We got the bus up to Phnom Penh and the bus was awful. Certainly the worst bus I have been on in South East Asia. We travelled with a company called PhnomPenhSorya... if you ever go to Cambodia, don't travel with them... it's a local bus disguised as a tour bus...
The bus was pretty average and it had an area that they claimed was a toilet... looked a bit more like a dump site to me. They had the air con on super freezing so for a fair few hours we sat there shivering until I figured out I could stuff the curtain up into the a/c vent and block it off... That was fine until my seat broke. All in all, a terrible experience. We got to the border after a few hours and had to go through the motions of having our bags checked.
It was so lacks that I could have taken anything through.... Still I managed to complete my SE Asia stamps with one for Cambodia in my now very well inked passport...
We finally arrived in Phnom Penh and checked into one of the best places I've stayed in SE Asia called Me Mates Place on Street 90. It's run by an Aussie guy from Melbourne and it's like walking in to a friends house. The staff are great, very friendly and they can't do enough for you. It really made our stay in Phnom Penh a pleasure.
We checked in and then headed out for dinner. Had a few cocktails and a nice meal before hitting the night market. We found another drinking venue and ended up at a place called Pontoon which is on a boat on the river. It was great fun and the Mojito's were quite special actually. Very impressive. I remember walking in and looking over the bar in complete surprise as a familiar face came in to view. It was Simon who I was travelling around north Thailand and Laos with.
It was great to catch up chatting about the different places we'd been to since Laos and we had a good night.
The next day we went to see the Killing Fields. For those that don't know what this is, it's a place where the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot murdered thousands and thousands of Cambodians all in the pursuit of an 'egalitarian' state. It has to be one of the most shocking experiences I've ever had. You can't imagine humans acting with such utter cruelty. They say at the Killing Fields that the people that committed these atrocities took a human form but were for all intents and purposes evil monsters and not real people. I couldn't put it in any better words. Absolutely shocking.... It felt odd taking pictures but it was difficult not too.
We stopped at S21 also which is the interrogation prison in Phnom Penh. Again a place filled with absolute hatred ad evil. The atmosphere felt heavy.
S21 was a former school which was then used as an interrogation facility. They have turned it into a museum so you can see how the prisoners were treated. It was very difficult to understand how people can treat other humans in such ways. You go to these places and wonder how Cambodian people can have such big smiles and warm hearts. They have to be some of the most friendly people I have met on my travels and for a country that has suffered so much it's an amazing thing to experience their hospitality.
I was glad to leave S21 as it was a very upsetting place. I'm glad I went and now understand what happened under Pol Pot. I think it's important to know about these historical events to educate people to ensure these things cannot happen again.
That night we went out for dinner again but the mood was sombre as you could imagine. The next day we headed to Siem Reap, unfortunately we had tickets on the same bus company as before so the journey was torrid to say the least.