Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Day 19-20: The Killing Fields
After a 5 hour bus ride from Siem Reap, we arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Another big city. We stayed at the Mad Monkey hostel, which came complete with its own swimming pool and bar. We checked out the hostel, had dinner (luckily the food here is a little better than in Siem Reap) and went to a nearby bar called Club Love.
Discovering a pleasant surprise
The club can best be described as a small room with a dance floor and some couches, flashed with multi-colored lights. I met Ben, an awesome Australian, and we danced like lunatics the whole night. This bar holds a special place in my heart, because after traveling for weeks it is the first place I was finally able to get a Corona. I know what you’re thinking . . . a Corona?
Yes. And it was God damn delicious.
You see, Corona (among Blue Moon and a few IPAs) is my favorite beer. And something you might not know unless you travel to Southeast Asia . . . is that there is NO GOOD BEER in Southeast Asia.
They have Singha, Leo, Chang and numerous other types of watery substance labeled as beer.
But not real beer.
Going to the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields and learning about a recent genocide
The next day we decided to go to the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, an obligatory stop while in Phnom Penh. A quick history lesson for you, during the Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979, roughly 2 million Cambodians were brutally murdered by Pol Pot, a communist tyrant, and his guerrilla army (this was out of ~7-8 million citizens…that’s over 25% of their people!) It was one of the largest genocides to date.
As I took an audio tour around the fields where so many lives were taken, I learned all about the genocide and what the people had to endure. One interesting point that stuck with me was that they especially wanted to kill people of intellect and high profession. Pol Pot and his regime feared that the intelligent people would overthrow them if they weren’t killed. Eventually he even turned on his own soldiers, fearing that they were conspiring against him. In 1979, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime were overthrown by a Vietnamese invasion.
The fields that I walked were where many Cambodians were taken against their will and forced to stay until they were eventually killed (think, the holocaust concentration camps.) Many of the victims’ bones, clothes and even skulls still remain at the fields today. While it was a heartbreaking scene to walk through and learn about, it was extremely informational and morbidly interesting.
Ending the day on a lighter note
After experiencing the killing fields, we all sunk into a mild depression. It was a lot of heavy information to take in, and our hearts went out to all of the innocent people who lost their lives just 40 years ago. We were told to stay in a fun, upbeat hostel since we would surely feel sad after the fields, which is why we chose Mad Monkey hostel. So after stopping by the Russian Market (FYI it’s just like every other market . . . I’m not sure what makes it “Russian”) we got dressed and ready to party at our hostel. At our hostel bar we met Kurt and Sarah (American’s who are part owners of an egg donation clinic in China. Their names have been changed for the sake of this article.) This will be important to remember for my upcoming post.
We pre-gamed at our hostel bar while discussing business with Kurt and Sarah, and eventually decided to go back to Club Love for another night of dancing. Partway through the night I took a short break from dancing and stood by the front door for fresh air. While cooling off, I started people-watching everyone in the club. There was an exceptional amount of Lady Boys in the club tonight, and just as many western male travelers hitting on them. I’m not sure if they could tell that they were Lady Boys . . .
Or maybe they just didn’t care.
Either way, it was funny to watch.
On my way home from the club, I passed a salon chair on the side of the road. Next to the chair were piles of cut hair. This isn’t important, I just thought it was odd. Apparently someone was just posting up shop on the sidewalk.
Seems legit . . . I wonder what their Yelp! reviews are like. . .