View Full Version : South East Asia: Part IV of IV

July 25th, 2011, 07:04 AM
South East Asia: Part IV of IV


Travelling southwards, we came across Sihanoukville. Labelled as Cambodia's answer to Thailandísí Phuket, but without the over-development of tourist resorts that now plague Thailand's beaches. Off the coast lie various islands that offer excellent escapes from the urbanity of the coast as well as excellent spots for diving. The place is pretty much devoid of any architectural merit.

Serendipity Beach.
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These aren't what you think they might be.
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The beaches are devoid of any relaxation unfortunately - kids (who ought to be at school) constantly harass, trying to sell overpriced tat. The menus are a bit odd as well.
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Just caught fresh fish
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While the climate wasn't as oppressive as Dubai, it was still warm; yet the place was almost abandoned for our exclusive use.
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Leaving Sihanoukville, we make our journey northwards to Phnom Penh. Known before the Khmer Rouge as the Pearl of Asia, the capital of Cambodia has a chequered history, but is gradually making inroads as a tourist destination.

Home to the former French colonial authorities (lots of colonial era buildings) and various religious buildings from the period that followed the decline of the Khmer empire, the city is home to 9% of Cambodians and the epicentre of all things Cambodian.

Our slightly creepy (the only people in a large) hotel was located two streets back from the Mekong riverfront and just around from the National Museum, University of Fine Arts and Royal Palace.

Friend's Restaurant is an NGO-run restaurant staffed by street youths seeking to escape poverty. Excellent food for a good cause.
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Chocolate spring rolls - excellent
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Buddhist monks doing the rounds for food.
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The Phnom Penh skyline; not much but while walking around, there were several large developments (including several towers) under construction.
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As a pedestrian, there are few crossing and traffic won't stop for you; as long as you keep walking in a straight line you should be okay.
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Two things - okay he managed to balance the mattresses on the back of the bike, but notice how he's proceeding to drive down the wrong side of the road.
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French/Cambodian fusion cuisine roll.
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Gotta get some Steve.
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Rice for the win.
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Quad biking
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Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it's a Scotch Egg with a foetal-stage hatchling.
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The Post Office
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Slightly different direction now; the darkest period in Cambodian history came under the crazed leadership of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge (not to be confused with the Khmer empire who existed long before).

In the four years (1975-79) that these murderous people controlled Cambodia, some two million Cambodians were purged through starvation, forced labour and execution. Anyone who was associated with the previous national or foreign government, had an education, was literate, wore glasses, painted, composed or performed music, or were simply a minority non-ethnic Cambodian - your days were numbered if you didn't get out.

Formerly a school, S-21 (now the Tuel Sleng Genocide Museum) was a one-way trip to death for many Cambodians, foreigners and some of Pol Pots' closest aids and friends. You had a 0.04% chance of getting out alive. In July 2010, Kang Kek Iew (aka Comrade Duch) who ran S-21 was eventually found guilty of crimes against humanity.
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Inmates were tortured until the guards were able to extract confessions of 'spying'. Spying carried the death penalty, even for innocent foreign tourists or fishermen from neighbouring countries.
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Choeung Ek, or commonly known as The Killing Fields. In the few years of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot and his cronies became immensely paranoid and warped that there were enemies everywhere. For instance if the father of a household wore glasses, they didn't just execute him, they killed that entire persons' family in case one of the children (even if they were a baby) might consider enacting revenge later on in life. Things got so desperate for the Khmer Rouge, that to save ammunition, babies were hurled against trees. Remains are still being recovered in the landscape to this day.

Tad hard to take pictures of what is the final resting place for thousands of people, but this picture is of the Buddhist stupa at the centre of the site. It contains the skulls of some 5,000 victims.
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After travelling around SE Asia, it was time to head back which involved an Air Asia flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, then a connecting Emirates flight to Dubai, then another Emirates flight to London Gatwick.

Bangkok International Airport
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South East Asia Series
South East Asia: Part I of IV http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24975
South East Asia: Part II of IV http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24976
South East Asia: Part III of IV http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24977