Phnom Penh

I spent a total of six days in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After riding the six hour bus from Siem Reap and taking a tuk-tuk to the Onederz Hostel, I felt tired on the first day. For the first two nights I stayed at the annex building. I decided to extend four more nights at the main building of the hostel since it has a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a cafe. The hostel fits my vibe since it’s not a party hostel and has a common area on the first floor.

I spent the second day walking down the promenade that’s across the street from the hostel. Since it gets hotter later in the day, I made sure to do all my exploration in the morning.

I passed by the Royal Palace, where the king lives, then took some photos at the Statue of Samdech Choun Nath. Nearby is Statue of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. He is the “father king” of Cambodia. Lastly, I stopped by the Independence Monument before walking back to the hostel.

I didn’t want to do too much since I was tired. I slept 13.5 hours one night, then 14 hours the next night. I realized that I must be very tired to have slept that long for two nights in a row.

Other than chilling in the pool and relaxing, I took a tuk-tuk to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, also known as the killing field. These two places mark the horrific killings of Pol Pot’s regime. He’s responsible for killing about 2 million of his own people, or about a quarter of Cambodia’s population in the late 1970s.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S21, was a school that got converted to a prison during Pol Pot’s rule. There are four buildings with a courtyard in the middle. I opted to not get the audio guide. To be honest, I really don’t like to visit museums about war even though I went to the Peace Museum in Hiroshima and the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. But I think these museums are important to remind the future generations about genocide and the killings so that we won’t repeat the past.

I was undecided about going to the killing field since I heard there are skulls there. I don’t like bones and anything related to death. Even Halloween is my least favorite holiday. However, I also heard the place is serene and that I should pay my respect. So I did.

I took the audio tour and and listened to every track while roaming around the killing field. The audio guide was very well done and I enjoyed it very much. It was sad to walk on the same site that so many people were murdered. This is just one of many killing fields in the country, but it’s the most well known.

It’s also shocking to learn that Pol Pot lived to over 70 years old when many of his victims didn’t even live past two years. What’s more shocking is that the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot’s regime, had a seat in the United Nations and had financial support from the West.

I came back to the hostel feeling down. At the same time I feel the Cambodian people are very resilient and very kind. I hope the best for them and for the rest of humanity.

This experience made me think of our current wars, mainly the war in Ukraine and the war between Israel and Palestine. It’s sickening that unlimited amount of money is used to fund wars. I wish the future will have no fiat money so there will be fewer wars, hopefully none at all.

The more I travel the more I realize that America is powerful because of the unlimited amount of money the US government can “print” and distribute around the world and the constant need to grow due to the greedy nature of capitalism. US go to war with other countries, or fund other countries’ wars, with the appearance of being a peacemaker when in fact it’s all about the expansion of American capitalism, the spread of US dollars to other countries’ economies so they can be more reliant on the US. Democracy is just a good excuse, like patriotism. Given the chance, other countries would have done the same thing. One example is China’s influence in Asia and Africa. Keep the poor countries poor by tying them up with debt, either via war funding or infrastructure funding. Money is an interesting thing, it can make one free and it can imprison.

Enough about my rant. There’s more to say about this than I care to write. I’ll be taking the 6:35 PM flight to Singapore from Phnom Penh. I was in Singapore a few months ago and will stay for five nights this time. The plane ticket to Philadelphia is the cheapest from there. I plan to just hang around the hostel until 3 PM then I’ll take a tuk-tuk to the airport.

So much garbage on the side of the road on the way to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap

Saw many half finished real estate on the bus ride. Must be all funded by China.

The promenade in Phnom Penh

Statues on the promenade

Decorative gate

The Royal Palace

So many pigeons!

Traditional boats on the Tonle Sap River

Statue of Samdech Choun Nath

Statue of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk

The "father king" of Cambodia

Independence Monument

The pool at Onederz Hostel

The night market near the hostel

Statue of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk at night

Independence Monument at night

The Royal Palace at night

Saw this flyer in the hostel in Siem Reap and the hostel in Phnom Penh. Wish I could stay longer to volunteer.

Inside Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Looking out into the courtyard from one of the prison buildings.

The monument in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

A statue in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The stupa at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center

The pond at the killing field

Still can see bones and pieces of clothing on the ground of the killing field.

"The tree which the executioners smashed the children's heads against it."

"The tree was used as a tool to hang a loudspeaker which made sound louder to avoid the moan of victims while they were being executed."

A memorial sculpture at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center

A section of the skulls stored in the stupa

Back at the common room/cafe in the hostel

In Asian countries, they use electric heaters rather than a hot water heater to conserve space and heat up the water in the shower.

They also have an extra hose by the toilet for easy cleaning.

The boats by the promenade that's popular with the tourists.

A night street scene with a tuk-tuk