the faces of phnom penh

the numbers this far:
days traveling: 6
countries visited: 1
provinces visited: 2
feet blisters: 6
most number of passangers spotted on a motorbike: SIX!!! (phnom penh)

if i was not the one who snapped this very photo i would not have believed it either.

crazy or what? SIX people on a motorcycle navigating through this insane city. count them. if i was not the one who snapped this very photo i would not have believed it either. they say this is not the worst though, and i should be expecting some real circus acts in ho chi minh. i am sure i really cannot wait.

phnom penh traffic includes the occasional elephant…

i am sunburnt. can you believe it? it is scorching hot here and i am already sunburnt. this is from all the walking we have been doing all around town.

findings at the russian market

there are two parts of the places to see in phnom penh. i visited the national museum and the royal palace to see just how grand and wonderful things can be – there is just so much detail to the work of generations of cambodia – how their statues bring life to expressions and how even the normal everyday things like chopsticks and spoons you use to scoop rice is given intricate details. so much thought has gone into these things, details that are lost was the world progress towards modernisation.

and then there is the side of cambodia which have been scarred by the horrors of war and more imminently, the khmer rouge regime. i visited the cheung ek killing fields and the toul sleng genocide museum and walked away a changed person. the inhumanity reflected by the two places is horrific. far worse than what has ever happened back home. at least back in malaysia, we can blame colonisers for oppressions. over here, it is their own people who do the killing. over two million cambodians died at the mercy of fellow cambodians during the reign of pol pot. they were tortured, interrogated and killed. people with any sort of education were immediately destroyed. everyone else were driven to the fields, where all their produce went to the khmer rouge. they were not even allowed to cook at home. if even a potato was found at home, they will be killed. the khmer rouge rationed everyone two bowls of porridge a day. weakness kept the people from rebelling.

these places reflected the horrors of the four dark years. in photos. in torture instruments. in movies. in the stories of the survivors. everyone i speak to in cambodia has had some family member lost to the khmer rouge. it is painful. it truly is. and in this light, when you look at the kids on the streets and people begging on the streets with missing limbs, your broken heart just shatters. there is nothing left.

billboard in downtown phnom penh

but cambodia is a country striving on. despite the terror of the past, it has become a city of crazy traffic and polite people. oh the people here are just so polite! even the tuktuk drivers. they will ask you if you want a ride, and when you say no, they will smile and wish you a nice day. and they are just so polite about it. i was waiting for V yesterday and a tuktuk driver of who i declined a ride chatted with me about where i was from and about my stay in cambodia so far. they don’t like force you to take a ride with them. they just let it be and don’t like keep on insisting. i think that is just great.

on a last note, aku salah makan yesterday la i think. i stomach was churning and churning right after lunch… and it was then la that i decided to go to the genocide museum. bleh! i vomitted out lunch there and was the most pathetic thing last night. i took everything in my first aid kit: charcoal la… poh chai yun la… panadol la… and prayed that the meds don’t just cancel each other out. this morning okay sikit la. i don’t feel like puking anymore but the smell of food is a tad nauseating and i’m just sticking to soups and tea for now. my perut is still tengah pulas and pulas but i should be better in another day.

four nights in phnom penh so far. i have a ticket to saigon tomorrow morning. i will write again from vietnam.


3 thoughts on “the faces of phnom penh

  1. this food happening happens to me all the time when i am traveling except when i eat at better establishments. even Penang hawker food has the same effect on me sometimes coz I am used to bland food here.

    the above is just an intro to my comment

    The real comment : aduh u r really enjoying life…..i so envy u lah..i promise i will go to Phnom Penh one day. the only reason i dont go is mrs bengbeng is not adventurous and it isnt fun for me or nice to travel without her :(

    please blog more. nothing is not interesting..all yr reflections, minute details please…yr perspective on wat u c :) at least if i cant b there i can imagine it thru yr eyes.

    Btw, when u come home, hope u will post pics . and take care lest some soul out there tries to cheat u or something

  2. hey guys, thanks for following me up to here. i really cannot apologise enough for not being more active in the greater malaysian blogsphere i.e. your blogs, but internet here is pricy and i’m just updating this blog so you guys know where i am. i promise to visit your blogs soon alright:)

    sta tuned. knowing you guys are with me is comforting. it really is.

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