Cambodia: Battambang, Phnom Penh and Kampot
Battambang was a nice transition from hot Siem Reap. Our hostel was slightly out of town but was pretty marginal. Even as inexpensive as it was we probably would have preferred to be in town.
The day tour we took around Battambang was challenging. Simple enough was the trip to the “old house” and local temple.
Much more wrenching was the trip to the killing caves on tours by very young children. The piles of bones and savage residual equipment spoke to the genocide in the late 70’s. Heartbreaking the way the children spoke about it. We. Would see much more of the evil from that time in PP.
We broke the somber time with a fantastic cooking class at Coconut Lyly. We had a bit of a tour though the market to procure supplies and the set to cooking.
We cooked a four course meal: a killer green papaya salad, mushroom coconut amok, the best springs rolls EVER, and wonderful coconut dessert. Best $10 spent! Super fun!
Off to Phnom Penh early the next morning - the roads are miserable! PP is definitely a shock to the system. It’s really a bit crazy, much more intense than we’ve been used to. However it isn’t all bad - we found a couple restaurants that were superb and prowling the markets was excellent. We did park ourselves by the riverside and found a restaurant with a spectacular view. We also made it to the National Museum of Cambodia, which had more relics than I would have expected, given their history.
A day trip to to the infamous Tuol Sleng secret prison, and the Choeung Ek killing fields, makes for a somber day. It is unfathomable about the amount of evil at both places.
The Tuol Sleng was a school before the Khmer Rouge used it as a torture and interrogation facility. The excellent audio guide was grim but clear and very well done.
The killing fields were an odd juxtaposition between the tranquility of the environment and the heinous acts that were committed. The sheer brutality with which they carried out executions is heartbreaking.
Fortunately the next day was a bit lighter. The Royal Palace was packed with tourists on New Year’s Eve, from all over the country and world. The Emerald Buddha was spectacular as well as the silver palace in which it resides.
I liked PP - I feel like we only scratched the surface - it is noisy and hot and busy, but definitely a society and city on the rise.
The midday trip to Kampot was difficult on the miserable Cambodian infrastructure. We were happy to arrive in one piece at Phoumrumduol Bungalow. Despite being outside of town it was lovely with wonderful hosts, and a pool!
However no time to wait - it is New Year’s Eve and we have to celebrate! We hustle down to the town and it is crazy, with fireworks and parties and LOTS of karaoke.
We almost make it to midnight but are pooped from travels. Celia of course heads to a party until late with a couple of Aussies.
The next day we have a long remork ride to an awesome pepper plantation. A French couple started this about 5 years ago and it is such a well thought out business. They helped to achieve certification for the region, grow delish types of peppers, fruits and veggies, and started a school for 100 kids. It’s pretty impressive.
I did a bit of exploring of the market, I actually thought it was my favorite in all of Cambodia.
We head back, and this is the bleak night results...
We left the day after the hospital day - flying to Vientiane after a nice, easy ride to Phnom Penh.