Rachael and I spent a total of two nights in Phnom Penh. The first night we rolled in really late so we just went to dinner at the restaurant across the street, browsed a few street markets and then headed to bed early so that we could catch our morning flight to Angkor Wat.
Our second time in Phnom Penh was a bit more adventurous. We were picked up after our trip to Angkor Wat and headed straight to the Killing Fields. While in Cambodia we have been reading a lot about the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnam War and how it all ties together. We’ve talked to a quite a few Cambodians about their thoughts and experience during that time. It is so insane to think about how the Khmer Rouge happened only a few years ago and yet, it is so brushed under the rug. It is definitely something more and more people are talking about now. In fact, lots of books are being written about the subject. But it is not talked about nearly as much as World War II and yet the genocide is still so tragic.
Seeing the Killing Fields reminded me a lot about my experience visiting Dachau in Germany. It is such a special and sacred place. Walking through the Killing Fields, listening to the details and different stories about that time and place makes you stop and think about our world today. Experiences like this can touch you and truly open your eyes. I can’t help but ache at the thought of an entire generation suffering like many have in the past. Keeping praying for the world, we truly need it.
After the Killing Fields, Rachael and I checked into our hotel and set out to find dinner for the night. We ended up at an Italian restaurant Il Forno, the owner was straight up from Italy so the food was authentic and a real treat. We happened to pass a Krispy Kreme on our way home and you bet we stopped and bought hot donuts.
Cambodia is definitely an interesting country. Everyone here is SO nice and helpful. At one point Rachael and I were having a hard time finding our tuk tuk driver. Two other tuk tuk drivers approached us and sincerely wanted to help us look for him because we were obviously lost. We eventually found our driver and the two other drivers, that helped us find him, happily waved goodbye to us once they saw we were no longer lost. I used to think I was possibly naïve in this thought – but through all of my travels I have confirmed more and more that I believe humans are innately good and kind. Those who do bad are the humans that get lost along the way; however, we are all born with good intentions. Even here in South East Asia there were two tuk tuk drivers who had every good intention in the world to help two lost American girls find their tuk tuk driver. Rachael and I have talked about it and we both have felt very safe the entire trip. Another part of me thinks it is the fact that we stand out so much. People know if they tried to do something to us it would be so obvious something was up that it would make it hard to getaway with – someone would stop them.
Cambodia is also very interesting because you can tell the effects of the communist past and genocide in present day. There are only really old people here and people our age. The middle age generation, those age 50-70 is small, almost non-existent because of the mass killing. People here have a very serious demeanor as well and keep to themselves. It is more solemn and quiet than other Asian countries like Nepal and Thailand. Cambodians are also very patient.
There is definitely a large gap in class as well. You either see very poor people or very rich people driving very nice cars everywhere. Rachael and I have seen SO many Range Rovers, BMWs and Lexus’, etc. driving around – it is crazy!
Honestly Cambodia is a very interesting place but overall it is has been my second favorite country we have visited so far next to Nepal. I really have enjoyed our time here and would recommend Cambodia as a do travel to country.