Suor Sdei from Cambodia! A land of friendly people, tragic history, very skinny cows and pyjama-clad women!
My 7 fellow travellers and I arrived in the bustling capital of Phnom Pehn after far too many hours of travelling from the Thai islands. On our first night we found a basic hostel in a back-packer area that had less-than luxurious rooms but my much-sought after hammocks on the wooden "floating"" structure that jutted out over the river. We watched the movie "The Killing Fields'" in preparation for our next-day plans, which turned out to be upsetting but poignant and worthwhile, and we made friends with the friendly Cambodian staff, who later robbed my friend's phone from our room!
The visit to Cambodia's largest killing field invoked high emotions as we thought of the of the 3 million people who died at the hands of the Khymer Rouge up until 1979. It was hard emotionally as in the soil you could see human teeth and fragments of cracked boned from the victims of the Khymer Rouge that were taken here to be killed. Before the prisoners were taken to a hushed-up Killing Field to be executed, they were imprisoned in a former school called S21. We visited here next and were shocked by the tiny bare cells the prisoners were filed into, and the hundreds of pictures of emaciated victims.
That night we had a few pre-drinks by the river (literally, we were on the Mekong river bank wall with our own shop-bought drinks talking about which cocktails we would love to have instead). A great night out ensued in which we finally got to drink the cocktails we'd been drooling over, and have a ruddy good dance to the resident DJ (who was actually great and mixed in all our requests!).
After a 6 hour bus journey the next day from Phnom Pehn to Siem Reap, we found some cheap lodgings ($2 a night) and went for a fabulous meal at a Cambodian restaurant, where our entire bill (for 6 meals, with rice, drinks, tea and fruit) was $26. Happy student travellers! My friends would recommend the traditional beef lak-lak and the fish curry that is served in a hollow coconut, in case you re ever in the area.
On Saturday we visited Angkor Wat; the magnificent temple complex near Siem Reap (where Tomb Raider was filmed!). We hired tuktuks for the day and got up at 4.30am to make it in time to watch the beautiful sunrise, and explore the different temples before the stifling midday sun kicked in. The temples themselves were vast and imposing but so intricately detailed that we were in awe; needing to just 'have some me-time' to soak up the magical atmosphere. Many mesmerising temples, nasty monkeys and persistent kids trying to sell you something later, we went home for well-deserved naps. Later that afternoon we visited the central market and sampled some more of Cambodia's culinary deights before booking our 13 hour bus ride to Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam at 6.45am tomorrow morning.
I am not looking forward to the journey but Vietnam itself will hopefully be awesome!