Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Heard It On The News.. They Say Its Khm-er Rouge!


I have almost recovered from my flu and during my days spent at home hibernating and getting better, i've rearranged photos that we will post here and on Flickr! This is gonna be exciting, i can feel it in my furrrs!

So now we are back on track with my next post on Cambodia!

We didn't take as much pictures as we should have in Cambodia mostly because our thoughts were focused on merely 3 "touristy" attractions - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and Angkor Wat; definitely an outrage to budding enthusiast (WHAT! Nothing to shoot? Are you from Planet Ignorance?!!) But its true, we didn't take as much as we should've but the ones we have were definitely memorable.

We took our maiden flight on Jetstar Asia and what initially was a mere 3 day trip to Siem Reap (on a $3 promotional low-season fare!) became a $200+ trip when we extended it to one week in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap! The Travelling Teddies are impulsive travellers who always always try to extend their trips to the maximum number of days and of cash too! Haha!

Anyway, we touched down in Siem Reap and made our way to Phnom Penh first... on wheels! Yup, the coach ride was bumpy but satisfying to take in the sights, the sounds, the smell... to recollect thoughts and... to catch up on our sleep! But Cubbies made some friends on the bus, and this one in particular is probably the cutest of the lot! We didn't talk very much because Cubbies speaks Bearish English and she speaks Khmer!

Khmer-Speaking Kiddo

In Phnom Penh, we put up at the Hotel Cara, which was conveniently located near the Central Wat and accessible to anywhere in the city by foot (just a matter of whether you are interested to walk!). We paid S$138 (US$100) for 3 nights stay and includes breakfast (with the same food served) every morning and a 97+ cable channels to blow your mind away. Room is comfy of course, nice queen size bed, clean and a toilet that will fit one. Can do with a little bit of cleanliness with the shower curtain but no problemos - TTT can deal with that perfectly (remembering the Horrifying Shower Curtain incident in the shared dorm/toilet in Europe).

Hotel Cara

After a night's rest, we made our first day of travel, which cost us about US$10 a day, to the most important sights first, on our 4-wheel ride: The ever comfortable, open-air, 20km/hr ride on the Cambodian Tuk-Tuk. For US$10, he promised to take us to 3 Hot Spots - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Cheung Ek Killing Fields and the Russian Market.


Our first stop was the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), which reminded us so much of the atrocities of the Hitler Regime. Even though you are free to roam on your own, you can also hire a guide to take you around the museum (which we paid US$8 for; the price which almost had Cubbies eyes popped out!). Local guides often have personal experience / encounter with the prison or the Pol Pot's regime and are often your source of living history. I have to admit, it was quite sad and disheartening to see the sombre look on our guide's face whenever she tries to explain certain things or relive certain personal stories as she goes around. Life must've been really difficult to plough through during those days...

Tuol Sleng

After an hour of one disturbing exhibit to another - we paid a visit to the Cheoung Ek Genocide Memorial / Killing Fields which is located about 15km outside of Phnom Penh. Now when you travel out to the Killing Fields, be sure to put on your shades and probably wrap a towel around your face because the ride is very bumpy and very dusty!

When we arrive at the Cheoung Ek, there is a certain kind of sterile, disinfectant smell about the air which was definitely a very human, stale smell of death. Not something the TTT is used to of course! After all, the killings only stopped in 1979 when the Khmer Rouge were defeated by the Vietnamese; and 8,985 men, women and children were unearthed only after the liberation of the Khmers Rouges.

The Killing Fields

The Cheoung Ek was the location where the Khmer Rouge took their prisoners for execution within 24 hours of capture. This definitely wasn't TTT's favourite visit but it was both heavy in the heart as well as an eye-opener and reminder for the TTT - that mankind is capable of such animosity, cruelty and atrocity, beyond anyone's wildest imagination.

Moving on from the Killing Fields, our Mr. Tuk Tuk took us to the Russian Market for some 2 hours worth of shopping. We didn't have pictures of the Russian Market but our experience comes with a very useful tip.

Everything you need to find in Cambodia, you can almost find it in the Phsar Toul Tom Poung (Russian Market; not to be mistaken with P'sar O Russei) at a much much cheaper price than anywhere other central / night market in Siem Reap / Phnom Penh.

You can find everything you need here; hardware goods, drinks and cooked food, antique furniture, traditional carvings and handicraft, hand-woven silk, music, movie and computer CDs, silverware, gems, books and maps, backpacks and bags and shoes and clothing.

And while Meebops was busy haggling prices for the Royal Cambodian Silk, Cubbies prowled around for some cheap DVDs of her favourite TV shows!

Foodies ALERT! There are more halal food you can find here in Phnom Penh than probably anywhere else in Cambodia (not even in Siem Reap!). The fare includes Indian and Thai/Cambodian cuisine. Now, do not expect a 5-star food fare but reasonably small, clean and comfortable shops along the riverfront.

Our first stop that night when we reached PP was to have dinner at Kabab Shop. Well, of course, Cubbies expected Kababs (middle-eastern meat wraps) but no no... This Kabab Shop sells Indian/Chinese /Pakistani cuisine. Prices are a little steep (as all Indian cuisine are) but taste was quite mediocre for the price.

The Travelling Teddies rate The Kabab Shop - 2.5 out of 5 Paws!

The Kabab Shop
#1, Street 104
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

On our 2nd day, we explored just a little further down the river scavenging for our lunch, at the ever popular Mekong Tours & Guest House; which apparently tripled up as a restaurant come GuestHouse come travel/tour agent. Its located at the very end of the river and right next to the mosque. So if you don't know where you're going, just head towards the direction of the mosque! Despite the raving reviews, TTT finds the food at Mekong Tours just of acceptable taste and not quite impressive as expected though the dining areas are very clean and there were no annoying little houseflies wanting a share of your meal! The experience was pretty apathetic but the price was reasonable. We had nothing to complain of course - Food was halal and that was all that mattered!

The Travelling Teddies rate Mekong Tours & Guest House (Restaurant) - 3 out of 5 Paws!

Mekong Tours & Guest House
43AB, Street 86
Phnom Penh

And on our final night in Phnom Penh, we gave the humble Malaysia Restaurant a shot. In actual fact, we were looking Rabbit Restaurant (Rabbit or otherwise known as Bunny, is Cubbies' little alter ego) which claimed to serve authentic Chinese food, and which happens to be Cubbies favourite! But alas, we couldn't find the shop. So we bumped into Malaysia Restaurant, which serves pretty authentic Cambodian food. Now, TTT has no experience eating Cambodian food at all. But being eager travellers and adventurous by nature, TTT ordered all things Cambodian. To our surprise though, all things Cambodian are all things soupy and veggie and fishy - which is not a perennial favourite of one of the Teddies.

The Travelling Teddies rate Malaysia Restaurant - 3 out of 5 Paws!

Malaysia Restaurant
#20Eo, St 130
Phsarkandal I District
Khan Daun Penh
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After dinner on our last night in PP, TTT went for a "Seeing Hands" massage, performed by the blind, with part of the profits going to help the sight-impaired of Phnom Penh. They have a few "copies" in Siem Reap but as much as you can, try to visit the one in PP, located opposite the Phnom Penh General Post Office. For US$ 5 an hour (used to cost even less!), you can relax and wind down while your friendly english-speaking masseur explains what has been bugging you lately (only physiologically of course)... You will be amazed at their accuracy!

Definitely a 5-star treatment!

The Travelling Teddies TIP!

Cambodia uses two currencies in tandem; the local currency (Cambodian Riel), and the US Dollars. Small shops will quote prices in Riel while guesthouses and upscale restaurants will make use of the greenback. Both currencies are accepted everywhere but be mindful, when you change your currency to Riel, be sure to use them all while in Cambodia because it is worthless outside the local soils!

Next Up: Siem Reap!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin