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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I can describe Phnom Penh in three words: a gigantic cesspool. Infrastructure is crumbling with plenty of bad roads. Some streets are paved while other streets are gravel roads filled with numerous potholes. Traffic can be chaotic as cars and motorcycles roam crazily along the roads, and many drivers refuse to follow the traffic laws. Unfortunately, pedestrians have trouble crossing the streets from 5 to 7 pm every day when traffic is the heaviest.


Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries I have visited. Draft, Angkor beer costs as little as $0.50 a mug. Restaurant meals run the gamut from $4 to $8 even along the Mekong river where hordes of white people frequent. Phnom Penh has no shortage of old white guys with their young Asian honeys.

Cambodia

  • Area of the country spans 69,898 square miles, making Cambodia the 88th largest country in the world.
  • The currency is the Riel, although the U.S. dollar is widely traded and accepted for transactions above $1.
  • Phnom Penh is the largest city, and the capital, financial, manufacturing, and political hub of the country.
  • In 2013, the population was estimated at 15.2 million.
  • 90% of the population is Khmers with Buddhism as the main religion.
  • Most tourist pass through Phnom Penh and travel to Siem Reap and other towns of Cambodia.

The Killing Fields

One of the saddest moments I ever experienced when traveling. The Khmer Rouge unnecessarily murdered around 2 million citizens between 1975 and 1979.


The Khmer Rough closed down all education establishments and forced the people to flee the cities because the people refused to embrace communism. Thus, the leaders forced the people to work as slaves on agriculture collectives. Then the Khmer Rouge founded the S21 prison in Phnom Penh, which was a former high school.


The Khmer Rouge first rounded up intellectuals and former government officials along with their families and detained them at the prison. As the killing machine needed more victims, the Khmer Rouge was murdering everyone, and they even purged their own party members.


The Khmer Rouge used the prison to obtain confessions as the prison officials documented everything. Prisoners confessed to crimes against the state or participated in capitalistic activities. After jail officials had completed their files, the prisoners along with their families were sent to the killing fields for their final resting spot.


The killing fields are the mass burial sites in the paddy fields outside the cities. The Choeung Ek lies outside Phnom Penh. 


The Khmer Rouge brutality murdered their citizens in these fields. Soldiers lined up the prisoners along burial pits, utilized blunt instruments, such as axes, picks, hammers, and so on to bash in the prisoners' heads, and tossed them into mass graves.


Soldiers swung children and infants by their feet and bashed their heads against the thick trunks of the Chankiri trees. Then they tossed them into the pit filled with babies, children, and mothers. The Khmer Rouge believed the infants would grow into adults who would avenge their parents' murderers.


Luckily, the Khmer Rouge tried to invade Vietnam to reclaim a lost territory. The Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979 and removed the Khmer Rouge from power. The Vietnamese shut down the killing machines and appointed new communists into government.


Unfortunately, many of the war criminals have escaped justice and were never punished for their crimes against humanity.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The city of Siem Reap is a living paradox. New hotels, stores, and restaurants are everywhere, as tourists wander from shop to shop. However, the city government provides a third world infrastructure. Many alleys and small roads are not paved, and the constant traffic, pedestrians, and the wind would kick up dust, covering Siem Reap with an atmosphere of dust. 


Only half the intersections have a traffic light or sign,. Of course, the residents do not pay attention to any of the signs whether an intersection has one or not. Chaos and congestion rule the streets as drivers drive on the opposite side of the road and cut through parking lots at intersections. 

The Ruins of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the main temple that sits in the center of a collection of ruins that date back to the 12th century. Angkor Wat started as a king's palace that was eventually converted into a Buddhist temple. 


Angkor Wat has many scattered temples throughout the jungles. Even after three days of exploring the temples on bicycle, I have only seen half the temples. 


After Angkor Wat, the second most famous temple is Ta Prohm, where parts of the movie, Tomb Raider, was filmed.