You might think that it must have been quite an emotional trauma after visiting the killing fields, but now we are off to another place to evoke more trauma.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
If you are not the kind of person who can handle such emotional rollercoaster, I would suggest separating the killing fields and the genocide museum for two separate days. However, most people will try to cover most of them in one as Phnom Penh is rather a city with limited sights hence people move on elsewhere after they have covered the main sights.
This Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was used by the Khmer Rouge regime where they kept the prisoners, tortured them and executed them. It was said that at least 20000 people were killed inside this compound. And yes, it was actually a former high school building.
The cells were erected in the classrooms.
After the Khmer Rouge took over the school, they turned the place into a prison and interrogation centre in August 1975. The place was then renamed "Security Prison 21", hence the term S-21.
This place serves as a testament to the evil doings of the Khmer Rouge, and every bit of evidence was documented here in this museum. The evidence were all so well documented that every for every prisoner who was captured and killed here were photographed.
For you to imagine how many rooms the boards will cover for 20000 prisoners...
Here not only you see the pictures of the locals, you will be able to find foreigners who were killed in the Khmer Rouge as well.
Some of the photographs showing how the prisoners were tortured. The rooms were then made to look like those in the pictures.
Like here you can see the equipments used to torture the prisoners and the pictures on the board showed how the people used those equipments.
I would describe this place as pretty eerie and disturbing, but it is definitely well worth the admission of 2 USD (~ 2.7 SGD). A depressing experience, and I would say this place is not for the squeamish.
Spent quite some time in the museum and didn't realised that it would be sunset pretty soon. I had to leave the place and head to the next destination before sunset before the place closes. There weren't many taxis outside the museum and I was approached by this motorcyclist asking me where I was heading to. I thought he would be able to help me whizz through the traffic faster at a cheaper price and so I decided to take the motorcycle ride.
It was relatively fun on a bike in Phnom Penh I must say... Passing by the Independence Monument again.
I think it is rather okay to take a bike ride around Phnom Penh, considering the fact that the city is not that polluted and the weather was really cooling then. Roads in Phnom Penh looked pretty safe and the people seems pretty cautious on the road.
And before I knew it, I already arrived at the Central Market, also known as Psar Thmei.
This market is one of the landmark buildings in Phnom Penh, who would have expected the city to have a building like this with such a weird looking roof? People have said this market has one of the ten largest domes in the world, and it was very well designed that it offers maximum ventilation for a very hot day.
I was expecting to see a very busy market but the moment when I entered:
Looks like most of the shops were already closed for the day.
I was kinda disappointed but I told myself that I would definitely make time to visit again before I leave. Not wanting to leave this area without exploring the area, I checked out the map and found out that there is a shopping mall which is just across the street from the market:
Sorya Shopping Centre.
One of the more upmarket malls in Phnom Penh, I would say most of the people who visit this place are only the young locals because of the air conditioning. I didn't see any tourist in sight and the only one might be only me, and please do not expect this mall to be as glamorous as those in Bangkok for example, I came out empty handed not know what I could buy, but if you are looking for some interesting local food or you have any fast food craving, this is the place to head to. I decided to leave the mall and look for something better for dinner, and I decided to take a long walk back to the guesthouse and see if I could find anything interesting to eat on my way back.
Walked past the Phnom Penh railway station.
It is a nice colonial building from the outside, but inside is in shambles. Cambodian rail has stopped for quite some time and buses are the more convenient option in getting around cities, given that taking the train in the past was a painful option as the trains were said to be travelling only at 20 kilometres per hour. No joke!
Also passed by the Hotel Le Royal.
Tauted as the most impressive hotel in Phnom Penh, the reputation would be close to the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. It was one of the grand old palaces which was then converted to a hotel. I didn't go in because I was all too casually dressed and I was sweating quite a bit walking such a long distance, so I just took a picture and continued my way back. The most top end hotel in Phnom Penh going at least 250 USD a night. (~330 SGD)
Oh, and I finally found a place where I could settle my dinner! Guess where?
None other than KFC!
I think I walked for almost 2 hours before I finally reached back the guesthouse.
The simple room from the Tonle Sap guesthouse.
So the next day, I got up very early and thought I should make full use of the half day to explore the remaining sights which I wanted to visit. I decided to go on foot and see how far I could go first.
As I was walking, I could see many things which had Chinese elements, which proves to show there is still a big population of Chinese living in Cambodia.
Walked past a Chinese coffin shop, looked interesting and feeling kinda stange about the size of the coffins, looked rather small compared to the typical ones.
Saw a hokkien clan which many people walked in early in the morning, looks like a routine people would do everyday.
Finally I saw this shop! The Seeing Hands Massage.
This is one massage place which I would always support if the country I visit has one. So far it has branches in some of the lesser developed countries like in Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal. I am pretty happy about the idea that the person behind this actually helped to create jobs for the visually disabled and allow them to work and earn for a living. I tried looking for this shop the day before and I can't seem to find and now I finally found it. Really wanted to give it a try but shall see if time would permit before I end the trip.
I kept walking along the Tonle Sap river because I saw something far ahead which I wanted to get near to. I think it's not really an attraction but I thought it might be of some significance so I decided to take a look.
What's actually so special about this road?
It is not a road but a bridge at the far end of Tonle Sap, away from where the hustle and bustle is. This is a 700 metres Chruoy Changvar Bridge, also known as the Japanese friendship bridge.
This structure by the bridge marks the token from Japan.
It was so called the Japanese friendship bridge because the bridge was blown up in 1975 during Khmer Rouge, and was later repaired in 1993 with the funding from Japanese.
And not far from the bridge along Monivong Boulevard opposite the French embassy there is this interesting monument:
A pistol with a twisted barrel.
Main purpose of this monument was to symbolize non-violence.
As I have said, my fate with the Central Market doesn't end so easily as I decided to make another trip down to catch the market at the busiest time of the day.
Here I was again at Psar Thmei.
But before I entered into the market, there are a few nice places to check out for breakfast just across the street.
Oh my god, the beef noodle beehoon really tasted so good, and it's only 1 USD!
And so after the breakfast I headed into the market and I saw:
I don't know which section to classify this picture, because I could see people selling fish, vegetables and fruits together in one stall...
And of course the section which attracted me the most has to be the food section.
And of course the trip would not be considered complete if I didn't try anything from the market, so...
I needed something to satisfy my sweet tooth. Mixture of red beans, kidney beans, nuts and milk.
So I realised I didn't have much time left and I had to head back to the guesthouse to checkout, so I took a taxi back from the Central Market back to the guesthouse.
And I passed by this building which the driver told me it is called the Olympic Stadium.
I found the architecture of the stadium rather strange, or some might call it unique. This is the most classic example of the Khmer architecture in the 1960s and this place is the life of the Cambodians where all the major sports events are held here.
So after checking out, I headed a street across the guesthouse to the bus company. I have bought a bus ticket which was supposed to be superior class to the next destination. I chose this bus company because the guide book says it has one of the most upmarket services with in-drive hostesses.
Yeah, and this is the bus from Mekong express. The bus ticket is 11 USD (~14.50 SGD) and would be a 5 hours journey.
The bus was relatively ok, and the lady with the back facing was the in-drive hostess. Nothing to complain about except the blasting of the Cambodian karaoke throughout the journey.
And they served some light refreshments during the bus ride.
And for now, I just have to catch a nap and await for more exciting adventures at the next destination.