Looking back, the one other place that reminds me of Cambodia is Poland (featured here). It is a beautiful country that is filled with so many painful memories.
The next morning we woke up super early (4am) and made our way to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. Plastic chairs, extra-strong local coffee and fresh 5am air. Little did we know five hours later we'd be melting in the heat.
We got onto a bigger boat filled with other tourists anxiously waiting to capture the sunset. There were bees, snakes and crocodiles - I'm not kidding.
After Siem Reap, we made our way to Sihanoukville and then to Phnom Penh. To be honest, Sihanoukville was a massive disappointment. It was recommended by some acquaintances and ugh, I wish I did my research. We would've headed to Song Saa instead! After an eight-hour drive to Sihanoukville, 50 cent beers and a night's stay, we had another three-hour drive before arriving in Phnom Penh.
While in Phnom Penh, we visited the Killing Fields - Choeung Ek. I really struggled throughout the tour. I teared up looking at the 5,000+ human bones housed in the Buddhist stupa. The rest of the area are so raw. While walking through the site, I noticed white bits all over the ground, and realized that they were human bones. We also visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, better known as S-21. I couldn't actually finish this tour and ended up standing outside with our guide for the most part. (I don't have any photos from these tours as I couldn't bring myself to snap any - it just felt wrong taking photos of bones and blood stains).
Some people ask why I visit such sites whenever I travel. My question in reply is - why not? We travel to learn about a country: its history - good and bad, its culture and the events that shaped the lives of its people. It gives you a whole new perspective on life. Some of the most beautiful places are haunted by the most heartbreaking stories. And beyond all that, it reminds us to always be kind to one another. x
(all images by me)