Cambodia Roundup

A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh

A dubious way to transport a ladder in Phnom Penh

I spent 16 days in Cambodia and an average of $30 per day. I didn’t see too many places, just Banlung, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap. The buses in southeast Asia were really wearing me down and I was concerned about my budget, so I decided to take it easy. I ended up spending more money than I had wanted to, though, mainly on the delicious western food I found near the beach.

I don’t have a burning desire to return to Cambodia. I found the people there to be a bit too aggressive and untrustworthy. It’s not that I felt unsafe there or like I’d be attacked, but rather that the people I encountered weren’t too concerned about my well-being and were always trying to rip me off. Also, the traffic was terrifying, especially when going for a bike ride.

I suppose if I do ever find myself in Cambodia again I’d like to explore more of the coast. I didn’t get to any of the islands or the smaller towns, and although the beach at Sihanoukville is beautiful, the town completely lacks culture and charm.

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The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng

A mass grave at the Killing Fields

A mass grave at the Killing Fields

Similar to learning about the Secret War, I was humbled and shocked by my experiences at the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng prison (S-21) in Phnom Penh. It was a very heavy day, starting with the audio tour at the Killing Fields and then an extremely informative and thorough presentation at the prison. It’s nearly impossible to comprehend how a few fearful, ignorant people can nearly wipe out the educational and cultural lives of an entire nation, not to mention murdering nearly two million innocent people, including infant children.

As is mentioned in the audio guide, though, Cambodia’s story is not too much different from that of the Native Americans in the United States, the Jews and other persecuted groups during World War II, Pinochet’s victims in Chile,  and countless other tragedies that have affected the globe. It’s so important to understand how these situations came about so we can try to prevent them from happening in the future.

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