Before making our way to Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor, we headed to Phnom Penh. This capital city is not to be missed as it is alive with both history and nightlife and we found many things to do in Phnom Penh. As Phnom Penh has only recovered from the Khmer Rouge reign (1975-79) in the past decade, we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21) to pay respect to the thousands of victims who were held captive, often tortured and killed for ‘confessions’ by the Khmer Rouge.
This once high school then turned prison and now museum provided a confronting experience, seeing photos of dead victims chained to their steel beds by their feet. I think the hardest thing was realizing that these atrocities occurred less than 40 years ago. We also took a motorbike to the Killing Fields-mass grave and burial grounds where the Khmer Rouge killed thousands of victims. Again, another rather somber afternoon out, but important to understand the history of this country.
On a happier note, we visited numerous Wats, watched monks hitch a ride on a motorbike, got lost in the Russian Markets while trying to buy silk and enjoyed a 2 hour Khmer massage at U & Me Spa.
Another event within itself that we thoroughly enjoyed was taking a ride through the mayhem that is the traffic of Phnom Penh. Although we have both traveled through Asia before, we still marvel at the ducking, weaving, and beeping that goes on all hours of the day it’s always good fun!
Although we don’t like big cities too much, Phnom Penh provided us with so many contrasting experiences it was hard not to enjoy if you love nature.
Spend your half day tour to visit the Royal Palace, a King’s house. There are many temples you the palace where you will realize what Cambodia’s histories are. Next to the Royal Palace National Museum of Phnom Penh will explain more about Cambodia.