Destination: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The decision to go to Cambodia is easy. My personal expectation about Saigon is too high. It lacks the sense of adventure, exotism, and culture. I packed my bags waved goodbye to my German friend Myriam and spent the night in a cheap hotel near the bus station.

Day 1

I woke up early in preparation for my journey by bus to Phnom Penh. The day before, I had to convert all my money to 1, 5, and 10 dollar denominations since Cambodians only accept dollars and they give you change in their currency.
In the bus station, I met four friendly travelers from the UK. After our conversation, they offered their spare bed space in the hostel they’re staying at in Phnom Penh. Hope to humanity is restored! The journey was a good 6-hour trip including the border stop in Bavet where we had to stamp our passports.
When we arrived the hostel, I immediately wanted to look around since I only have one day and a half to see the place. The girls were pretty tired from their partying last night so I went out with two other lovely British girls who wanted to see the Killing Fields.

Selfie with the cuties

The tricycle ride was a bit of a rip off. But the driver is very nice. Based on my experience, Cambodians are kind people. Must be the result of the Pol Pot regime which humbled the entire population. I didn’t know the story until I came. In 1975 (sic), Pol Pot began a radical experiment to create an agrarian utopia; to purify the society. An attempt by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and executions.

Audio Tour
Walking in the Fields
An Emotional Walk

The audio tour was a very depressing experience. You’d see the history of the Killing Tree, the graves, and bones right before your eyes. There are remnants of dead people in the field.

The Killing Tree
The Graves
The Remains of the Dead
Tools Used to Kill
The Skull Tower
The Chemical Room: Used to hide the smell.

After the tour, the girls and I ate at a nearby restaurant just outside the Cheoung Ek gates. The fried rice was super delicious.

Day 2

Another day for city tour and the only interesting places to go are Wat Phnom and the Cambodian museum. The “Tuktuk” driver took me for a half day ride good for 9 dollars. Rip-off because I’m paying the price of two since I’m traveling alone. Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple and the tallest religious structure in the city. In my opinion, there are better temples in Vietnam as I have visited quite a number of them built in different eras and dynasties.

The Royal Palace was closed by the time we arrived. There’s some sort of a gathering by politicians I don’t specifically know. So I just took the most selfies I could take while in Phnom Penh.

Wat Phnom
Me and my Tuktuk Driver/Tourist Guide

When we reached the National Museum of Cambodia, it started to rain. I met a Kurdish guy temporarily staying in Phnom Penh as an intern. We toured the museum and the interesting part is that the Khmer people have been buddhist since centuries ago. Buddhism teaches that the primary purpose of life is to end suffering. On the contrary, the genocide that happened recently invalidated the buddhist way of life of the Khmer people.

Having Lunch with my newfound friend Kawe and my tuktuk driver

After the city tour, it’s time to go back to Ho Chi Minh City for my flight to Manila. Back to reality, back to the normal life. The trip is not as fun especially when you’re not sleepy and you’ve already seen the same sights and you’d have to get off the bus to cross the border in Bavet and have your passport stamped.

My Competition in the Selfie Master Title

I keep on bumping into these two cuties from Japan so I decided to take a picture with them.

With Shoko (Japan) and her friend

The bus arrived just in time for me to starve. The first priority was to look for food places. I didn’t have time to go somewhere Vietnamese since the rain was pouring hard. Although I had another meal at airport in Burger King.

The Story of the old 5 Dollar Bill

When I checked in to the Me Mates Hostel, I had to deposit 10 dollars as a guarantee instead of giving them my passport. By the time I checked out, the reception lady gave me two five dollars. One is really old and kind of wet. Little did I know that I cannot use an old currency in Cambodia and Vietnam. The tuktuk driver, Free shops, and everyone else refused to receive the old 5 dollars as payment. I’m doomed so I put it in a donation box in Ho Chi Minh City International Airport.

Moral Lesson: Do not accept old bills in Cambodia.

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