So I finally arrived in Cambodia. I had been advised to get the visa online to save time but it takes 3 days to get it processed and by the time I was ready to leave it was too late. So I got at the airport of Phnom Penh without a visa and was already prepared to have to go through long lines and boring procedures when in the end it all took me about 15 minutes (and I also saved some 10$ comparing to online visa).
The hostel I had reserved promised to send someone at the airport to pick me up but when I got there you guess it, nobody was waiting for me. I bought a SIM card and started to talk with Whitney, a girl from the US that was on the same plane as me. We were going in the same direction so we decided to split the cost of a tuk tuk.
We jumped in and the first thing we were told was to watch our bags. Snatching bags and mobiles phones is pretty common here in Cambodia and so we were on the know. The traffic was pretty bad, Thailand style and it took us about an hour to get to our destination.
At the moment to check in at Billabong hotel and hostel I was preceded by a group of French Chinese and so I had to wait and be patient. About ten minutes later I finally managed to do my check-in and I was then showed to my room.
EditDorms here are pretty big and spacious. I got a lower bunk bed as requested and the locker is so big that my entire backpack fits in. Fantastic! That night I went for dinner with a couple of very nice Japanese guys that were staying in my dorm. Walking around the city we managed to find this place where only locals go. The food was good, big and cheap. The day after together with Hiro and So we decided to go to the killing fields.
I remember when I was a kid that in the news they talked about the Khmer Rouge but I didn’t know much about the history of Cambodia and what really happened here. So when I decided to go to the killing fields I was not really aware of what I would have found. We got there in about 30 minutes with rented motorbikes and paid the 5 dollars entry fee. The audio guide was explaining what every stop was and what happened there. Shivers were running down my spine and the memory went automatically to my visit to Auschwitz. The atrocities that human kind can commit are really inexplicable. I cannot understand or accept that someone in their right mind can do something so terrible to some other human being (or animal for that matter). Violence has no justification or motive in my mind and I really struggle to understand what happened in Cambodia or in Germany/Poland under the Nazis.
To finish with the horror tour the following day I went to visit the genocide museum aka S21 a former school turned into torture zone during the Khmer Rouge occupation.
Phnom Penh is not a nice city. It’s chaotic and there are areas where you don’t want to go at night (I almost got my phone stolen one night). The only positive thing in my opinion is that there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants around the city. I only had time to visit a few but the food there was very good.
I went to EVERGREEN for breakfast. I had a plate of noodles pretty big and then shared a yummy soup with my friend. For dinner I went to VEGETARIAN 1000 a buffet like place where you can choose from different trays of food and they cost 1000 or 2000 riels (25/50c). The last day I went for breakfast to Surn Yi vegetarian restaurant and had noodles and mock pork. Although the “pork” was pretty good, the noodles were very poor, they didn’t taste of anything but maybe it was just my plate. The choice in this place is pretty big and it is very popular according to Trip Advisor.
Kep is a small village four hour drive from Phnom Penh, towards the coast. I checked in at Kepmandou Lounge a nice and small hostel by the beach built from wood in a cabin style. Clean and nice, very quiet at night. It rained almost all the time during the 2 days I was there but I just needed to rest so I didn’t mind. I caught up on some movies that I wanted to see and just chilled.
After Kep it was time to move to Sihanoukville where I was to start my next volunteering period on Sunday. Sihanoukville is a city known for its tourism. It’s not interesting in an artistic or historical way but my hostel was a little outside town, once again by the beach and I was looking forward to enjoy my peaceful time…. Never have I been so wrong. At Footprints the dorm is just upstairs from the bar area. The place is made of wood and there are no walls. I went to bed around 11 pm and the music was still full blast (in any other hostel I have been the music stops at 10/10.30pm the latest). I actually had to go downstairs and ask to tone the music down a little. At 3 am I woke up and there were still people at the bar chatting and laughing as of it was during the day. The music came from the outside. Somewhere not far away somebody was playing full blast techno music. And they didn’t stop until 8 am. The manager of the hostel apologized to me a thousand time but the damage was done. I also thought to move to another hostel but I was too lazy and I only had one night left. The second night was better, no music from the outside but the bar closed at midnight. Bu.t that night I was in kinda good mood as I had a very good pizza at Jin’s with Carlos a guy from Barcelona met on the bus from Kep.
So, comes Sunday and Roy, my host comes and pick me up. We drive for about 30 minutes and we arrive in Ream. He’s a Brit that lived for many years in Thailand and them moved to Cambodia with his Thai wife. They are getting ready a resort by the river with bungalows and animals, the Ream Yacht club. They need help with fixing and painting and here I am. The place is in the middle of nowhere but that’s the charm of it. The silence here is deafening and nature rules. I just love it here.