Friday, March 26, 2010

Phnom Penh

The first day of my first solo travel adventure is coming to a close. I must tell you that i was (and still kind of am) freaking out about the fact that I am traveling by myself in Cambodia. It doesn't help that some of you filled my head with severe warnings of the dangers of this country.

So far, I've been ok. I am being smart and keeping my wits about me. I hope this trip goes smoothly. It's a huge step for me and one I think that will ultimately be life changing.

I've dreamed of going to Cambodia for a while now...I was hoping to go over Tet but it wasn't possible, and while I had a lovely time in Laos, I was pining a bit for the idea of Cambodia. So when these ten days of no work came up, I decided to seize the opportunity. i could either be scared of traveling alone and not go, or be a big girl, face fear, be smart and do something I've always wanted.

I arrived in phnom penh this morning. Got a Cambodia sim card, hopped in a tuk tuk and got to my hotel. Immediately made my trip to Siem Reap for the next day (Angkor Wat is #1 on my list of places I want to go) and then made my plan for the day here.
Thanks to some very helpful friends (especially Edward who not only told me places to go but also everywhere I should stay and made my life really easy) I had an idea of what I wanted to do today.

It was rainy and bleary which kind of matched the destinations I was heading to...the killing fields and the genocide museum. Anyone who goes to Cambodia should visit these sights, horrific as they are, because they are such an important part of world history that i believe sometimes gets forgotten.

The images were graphic, disturbing, and sobering. I was, at certain points, overcome with emotion. Especially looking at pictures of the prisoners (some young children) and seeing it in their eyes...wondering "why me? what did I do to deserve this?" Those images are haunting.

I can't help but be so disgusted how people treat each other. How one could inflict that kind of torture on another human being so effortlessly. And this was RECENT, in the 70s. How can it happen? Why does it happen? I don't know but it upsets me on a level I can not describe.

Ok, enough of that heavy stuff.

Let me share my fun little tips about Cambodia:

1. The tuk tuk drivers are very eager to help. they will accost you in the street and offer to drive you somewhere. If you are awkward, like me, you might yes them to death telling them that you'll go to them when you need a ride. Do NOT do this. They will remember you. Ask you why you joined another tour and then proceed to shout yuor name at you every time they see you (in a nice friendly way but still "Alec! Alec!" as I head down the street....)
2. I heard that if traveling as a single woman, it's a good idea to wear a wedding band to deter any incidents. Well, it hasn't done anything with the locals. I am scaring off other backpackers though which is kind of the opposite of what I want to do. I want to make friends! Hopefully on the bus tomorrow I can, and at Siem Reap I'll be able to. If for nothing else than to have someone take pictures of me at the sights hehe.

Heading in for an early night now. Love to you all and maybe I'll blog from Siem Reap but maybe not.

xoxo AC

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