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An Alien in Spain - Visits Cambodia (Phnom Penh)

Today saw me say goodbye to Vietnam and the next leg would take me into one of the poorest countries in South East Asia - Cambodia - for years under French rule and then suffered from Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979 before liberation by the Vietnamese.

The first leg om my trip was a free pick up from the hotel to the dock where the luggage was quickly stored in the front compartment of an 18 seater fibre glass speed boat and after another short stop to pick up more passengers we set off on the scheduled 5 hour trip up The Mekong River to The Capital Phnom Penh. The cost of the boat ride was $25 and was a delight with a comfortable seat inside and an area at the back where I spent most of the time outside.

A word of warning I saw some companies charging $55 US for same trip but we passed nothing better on the way and our boat overtook everything and was never overtaken once !!!

Getting a visa couldn't have been easier we filled in a form on board and then gave the $20 US visa fee plus $5 admin fee to the main boatman with our passports we stopped at a riverside checkpoint and showed all our passports and waited 30 minutes then all back on the boat and down river to the Cambodian Checkpoint where we queued up and received our passports back with the visa inside - back on the boat and on our way.

We arrived on time in Phnom Penh - This is a novel way to enter Cambodia (or leave to Vietnam) and I heartily recommend it

The landing is right on Riverside an area I later explored where there are plenty of tourist bars doing Roast Sunday dinners and happy Hour that lasts 4 hours if that's what you want and plenty of Hotels at about $20 a night.

My hotel called Alibi was set back just behind the Royal Palace with a little garden with a fountain like an oasis in the city and at only $15 US a night a bargain however due to the fact the old king had recently died and the country was in mourning the authorities had roped off all the streets around the palace and the $1 US Fare cost me $3 for the Tuk Tuk to find a way through.

A Tuk Tuk for the day cost me $17 US for the day it is normally $15 but traffic problems because of Kings Death warranted extra and it is well worth the money.

Check out The Russian Market where good quality T shirts cost $3 US and sell all manner of clothes leather watches food etc etc -

Wat Phnom north of the city is one of the biggest temples in the city and well worth the visit $2 US entry fee but is also good to make a donation in the boxes around the temple and the Monks who speak English are happy to talk with you and practice their language skills.

Next I paid a visit to the infamous schoolhouse S 21 which is now "The Toul Sleng Genicide Museum " $2 US entry fee and an extra $2 US to a guide who gives a tour.

This is where The Khmer Rouge tortured and killed thousands of innocent people in the most horrific ways that I will not go into here but at the end of the tour there were the only two living survivors of the 9 that survived Mr Bou Meng and Mr Chum Mey who I had my picture taken with and spoke with via an interpreter a very humbling experience.

My last stop was at The Central Market a building with five arms protruding from the central body where you can buy anything from Jewellery to food and a place you can spend hours if you want I had a delicious veggie meal on a stall for $2 US and then as The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda were closed headed back to the hotel good value for money in normal circumstances.

The next day I spent drinking in the occasion which is a bit like a celebration of the life of the old king

With a visit to the nearby Temple

Next day I left the Hotel Alibi and caught a Tuk Tuk to central market ($2 US) where I was to catch my bus from Phnom Penh to Battanbang -

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