It was my fault. I accidentally bought a flight ticket from KL to Phnom Penh, I was supposed to get a ticket to Siem Reap, so we can wander around Angkor Wat before heading to Vietnam and fly back home from Ho Chi Minh. So, I have to alter the itinerary for our short weekend trip covering Cambodia and Vietnam.
Our short trip began in Phnom Penh (Cambodia), we cross the border to Ho Chi Minh, travel by bus to Mui Ne (Vietnam) and back to Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam). A five day trip with minimal budget and no intention of shopping spree!
We took an early flight from KL and arrived around 7.35am after went through the immigration, we left the airport an hour later. As we exited the airport, a man at the counter was trying to sell a tuk-tuk ticket for USD9 to us. It will take you from the airport to your hotel, flat rate he said. I took it and went outside, looking for the tuk-tuk driver. The guy from the counter followed us and took us to the driver.
We explained our route and started to negotiate our price. He (the man at the counter) started to charge USD40+USD9 (the extra charges you have to pay to the man at the counter). It was beyond our budget, I refused and pretend to walk away (I actually meant it). The man called me back and we started to negotiate again until we get the right price, USD30 (for the driver) and zero for the man at the counter.
Get your price right before you hop-on to the tuk-tuk.
Off to our first stop, Killing Fields, famous for its historical value where more than million people, including women and kids were killed during the rule of Khmer Rogue. Ichie was quite excited, she is a fan of it since college. It took us about 30 to 40mins from the airport, the road was ok and getting dusty and the traffic getting busier as we were reaching the place.
The entrance fee is USD3 and if you want to rent an audio tour set you will be charged USD6 (if I’m not mistaken). You can still read the info stated on each and every board marked, but the audio tape might get you back to 1975 when it all started.
The Magic tree was used to hang a loudspeaker, to make noises to avoid the noises of moaning from the victims while they were being executed. There are few massive graveyard inside the killing fields, divided into a different type, for women and kids (mostly found naked), for victims found without their head and there is also a tree where they used to beat children to death.
It was sunny and we were thirsty and hungry. There are mini stores run by the locals nearby so we grab coconut drinks to quench our thirst.
On our way to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum(G21), we stopped by at the Russian Market. Our quick prediction, a typical market that can be found in Asia, they have food, vegetables/fruits, clothes, fabrics and yeah pretty much it.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (G21)
I was a bit tired as we get here, but as we stepped in, Ichie whispered, this is the place. I stopped and said, I wanted to go to the upper level, this is so ‘Chernobyl Diaries’. Ichie hushed me and we started to wander around.
Known as Tuol Svay Pray High School back in 1976 where victims were tortured, interrogated and executed.
I can’t help myself from thinking, what if I was born as Cambodian, and were there during the rules of the Khmer Rouge. Can I be good enough as an artist or writer? To escape death?
We headed to the hostel after that. It was about to rain. The sky was getting darker.
Phnom Penh City
We finally arrived at our hostel. The staff showed us our room at the upper level, and with no escalator. He carried our backpacks and rooting for us as we stepped into the highest level, panting. We love our room, it’s more than what we expected, we have a balcony overview the city. It was raining when we got into our room so we had another hour for rest and chit chat before hitting the town after the rain.
Halal restaurant (Warung Bali) is few meters away from our hostel it was closed when we got there and we had to wait until 7pm for it to reopen. We were already starving, we snacking while touring around the Phnom Penh City. Actually, there is another halal restaurant, on the opposite direction, another 18mins walking distance from our hostel, but we’d love to try Nasi Gila badly.
Attractions are reachable by walking distance and you can finish the course by half day, the palace is closed on Sunday and the Cambodian was getting ready for a small gathering / picnic with their family at the park. It’s kinda lovely as they started to play around, eating and spending some quality time with their love ones and the weather seems perfect. Everything is perfect after the rain.
We wandered around until we reached the River Front Park and we went back to the hostel for another nap. We had our dinner at the Warung Bali. The food was great, big portion reasonable price and it’s delicious! Ichie and I had nasi gila, it’s simply a steam rice served with scramble egg, chicken and vegetable cuts.
It’s too early to go back to the hostel so decided to have a quick visit or last-minute shopping in Phnom Penh before heading Vietnam the next day. We went to the night market, is about 18mins walking from the restaurant.
It’s a pretty straight forward direction, it will be easier (and safer) to walk in the park near to the river all the way to the end of the park where you can see a big clock (not as big as the usual clock tower) and from there you can see the market’s tent. Safely cross the road and you are there.
Well, the night market is basically a typical night market where they sell clothing, some local souvenirs and food! Here’s where you can find the local food at a cheaper price, and experience the difference. They will set up a picnic cloth and you have to sit on it while eating. Isn’t that great? And while we were there, there’s some kind of local talent show happened in the market. It’s quite entertaining, I guess!
The best thing I love about Cambodia, based on my one day experience here, the people (especially the tuk–tuk’s driver) will politely ask if you need tuk-tuk and will back off when you politely declined. They didn’t force people to or tailing people around! (It happened to me once when I was in Manila hah)
I was taking a shower later that night. There was a noise from an upper room. But, we were on the top floor already! Could it possibly be the guest from the other room?