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What to see in Phnom Penh


  Sonia   |     22/04/2018

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After celebrating the Khmer New Year in Siem Reap (https://www.marsontheroad.com/en/destinazioni/97/il-capodanno-cambogiano), I head to the capital of Cambodia: Phnom Penh.
 
I take a bus at 12:30 pm (paid 10 $ with the company Mekong Express) and after 6 hours I arrive at the Phnom Penh bus station. I'm 4 km far from the hostel booked so I decide to take a tuk-tuk for $ 4 that I share with other guys.
 
The hostel is called Aura Thematic Hostel; I pay 4 $ in a 6-bed dorm. The building is new and it also has a rooftop but it is not an ideal environment to socialize: most people have in fact the private room. A hostel that I recommend instead is the Billabong: it offers a pool and is full of backpackers. I've been here to take a swim in the pool because in the city you cannot breathe for the sultry heat and I really like the environment. A dorm bed here costs $5.
 
Phnom Penh is located at the intersection of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. It was an important centre for both the Khmer empire and the French colonialists. On its walkable riverfront, lined with parks, restaurants and bars, are the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, which display artifacts from all over the country (the entrance to the Royal Palace and the Pagoda it is 10 $ and is only allowed at certain times and for the museum it is also 10 $). I have not visited any of the two places as it is not my priority considering the prices a bit high.
The heart of the city is the massive central art deco market. Here you can find clothes, technological objects and jewels: definitely worth a visit.
 
If you want to know a little about the history of this people then you must visit the S21 prison and Killing Fields. The prison is in the centre and the entrance fee is $ 5 or $ 8 with an audio guide that I highly recommend to better understand what you see.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a testimony to the Cambodian genocide. In 2009 UNESCO added the museum to the List of World Memories.
 
The building was renamed Security Office 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge socialist regime, which used it since their rise to power in 1975 and their fall in 1979. "Tuol Sleng" in the Khmer language means "hill of the wild mango"; in the abbreviation "S-21", 21 stands for the Santébal code, the Security Police. Recent studies have revealed that the S-21 was the tip of the iceberg of a vast system of prisons.
It takes me about 2 hours to visit the complex listening to the audio guide. It is undoubtedly a sad environment; you can see the methods that were used to kill nearly 20,000 innocent people, skulls, photos and clothes of them.
 
The Khmer Rouge wanted to turn the country into a socialist agrarian republic, founded on the politics of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism. To achieve their goals, the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced the Cambodians to move to labour camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labour, physical abuse, malnutrition and disease took place. This resulted in the death of about 25% of Cambodia's total population.
People perceived as opponents were taken to the Killing Fields, where they were executed and buried in mass graves.
 
Killing Fields is located about 20 km from the centre and can be reached by a tuk-tuk paying from 10 $ to 15 $; while the entrance is 6 $ with the audio guide.
Due to the proportions of the phenomenon and the impact on the overall population, the genocide in question can be considered as a unique and unprecedented case in the history of humanity.
 
They are very sad places to visit but without a doubt, it is interesting to understand the power of the human being and at the same time the nullity of the weakest ones.
 
I recommend staying in Phnom Penh for 2 days and if you want to eat good food then go to the Sinan restaurant. There are several nearby but the food at this restaurant is something special and prices ranging from $ 1 (for breakfast) to $ 3.50 for lunch and dinner.
 
In addition, the capital also offers several shopping centres and casinos. I have visited one met by chance: "NagaWorld". Here I was with 2 of my friends and a tuk-tuk driver sent us in and offered us a beer as he played. One thing that we found very strange was to get dressed in a casual way without anyone stopping us.
 
Finally, if you want to visit the area with nightclubs then I recommend having the restaurant Mr Mediterranean as a reference point and in the surroundings, you will find several places like the reggae bar or others. You will not regret it!
 
 

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