Thursday, April 30, 2015

Phnom Penh Day 2: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & Killing Field

Not exactly my favorite part of my visit to Phnom Penh was the trip to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Field. Before I went there, I was excited to go there and to see for myself the left over of the Khmer Rouge. Cruel and inhuman was all I could think about after the visit. How could they kill an innocent live without a blink of an eye? How could they inflict pain and torture their victims without feeling guilty? 

I just couldn't understand it.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was initially a school but turned into prison when Khmer Rouge took over. We did asked our tour guide at Angkor Wat what was the purpose of Khmer Rouge. He explained it was to abolish classes such as the rich and the poor in the society. They want everyone to be equal and classless. You can read more about it here. It is a very interesting read. 

The purpose is good but executed with such an extreme methods. It kills the purpose, guys.

As we walked into the school yard, there were some veterans sitting under shade with posters and books behind them. My guess they are probably the survivors of Khmer Rouge or someone related to Khmer Rouge victims. 

I was not paying much attention as it was really hot that I can feel the sun burning my skin. Plus, we were in a hurry to catch a documentary about Khmer Rouge in one of the old classroom. 

Some of the victims that killed or died at Tuol Sleng were buried there.

The higher floor of the building was wired to prevent the prisoners from jumping off. They were tortured with all methods that you could imagine and rather commit suicide than being left to suffer till their last breathe.

We didn't stay long there. The place seems so eerie and haunting to me. The peeling paint on the wall, the rusty metal bed and the stench make it even more scarier. The surrounding atmosphere was quiet as tourists flocking the area kept their voices down as a sign of respect to the victims.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Musuem
Street 113, Boeng Keng Kang
Phnom Penh

Entrance fee: $2

Next, we got on our van and heading to Killing Field which was quite a journey too. It takes around 45 minutes to reach. The Killing Field is located at Choeung Ek village and the location where the prisoners from Tuol Sleng were sent to be executed. 

By looking at the tower in the picture, you will never guess what are stored inside. Thousands of skulls of the victims are stored in there. The skulls of the victims are arranged accordingly to age categories. Same as the genocide museum, we didn't buy the audio guide as it is quite pricey, $6 if I'm not mistaken.

Same as the genocide museum, everyone was quiet and mostly walking around with headphone as they were listening to the audio guide. Although it will be great to be brief about what incident happened at a certain spot, I don't think I can handle the brutality. I'm glad I went without the audio guide.

Signs like this are placed at certain essential spot so you won't be completely lost and not knowing what happened there 40 years ago.

I can't find the word to exactly describe how I feel after visiting the important places in Cambodia history but I glad I went because it is an absolute eye opener about Cambodia dark past. The haunting experience at Tuol Sleng and Killing Field is not my standard normal tourist experience. It was my first time visiting history spots with such gruesome background.

Even writing about it give me goosebumps.

I strongly suggest you to visit these places if you ever set foot in Phnom Penh, for its importance history and reflection of the past.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I can handle this

Are you sick of my Phnom Penh post yet? Fret not, I have a lot more to come hahahha. And I'm still talking about my second day there after 3 blog posts. It was definitely an eye opening experience for me and of course I have a lot to talk about. But I'll save that for another post. Right now, I just want a break from my travel post and just jot down how I currently feel like.

I don't know how to describe my feeling but it is negative. This whole week I have been feeling down for no reason or for the slightest things ever. It doesn't help either that there is a lot of complains in my work place. Surrounded by people complaining everyday drained my spirit and energy quicker than anything else.

I really hope the mood swing is just PMS. The timing is about right. But then I really hope it come faster because I will go on an exciting trip this month end. I am really looking forward for the break plus it will be my first solo trip and I have been planning this for over a year. At least there is something to look forward to.

Before I pack my suitcase and enjoy myself, I have a big work event this whole week. Everyone in the company are involved and the upper management people are coming down for this too. So, it is quite a stressful week ahead but it is okay. I can handle this.

Current wish

Throwback to 2 months ago when the bestie was back 

I have been trying to cook a lot back in Feb/March. The inspiration came in when I was bore one day, so I was on Youtube watching random videos and ended up watching some cooking channels. Everything they did on camera seem so easy. Add in a tiny bit of salt for taste they said. I added mine, it was tasteless. Add a little more and it was too salty ='=

My current favorite dish to cook. Aglio olio seafood. So easy and quick to make. The only downside with pasta dish is the pasta itself takes quite some time to cook. But I can whip this up less than 10 minutes if minus the pasta cooking time.

I tried making mash potatoes the other day and dare I say, it was sooooo good and super easy too. Same goes to my roast chicken and baked fish. If you notice I only love making western dish. It is because it is easy, quick and almost fool proof. The chinese dish and others are quite hard, at least for a beginner like me and time consuming. 

Went to celebrate Sara birthday at the new cafe, Horisen One Cafe last week. Hoe was performing there too. There are so many new cafes popping out in Sibu lately that I can't even keep up with. Horisen One is good but it was hot as it is open air, thus no aircond. Which leads to mosquitoes ='=
Food wise, the price is okay but there are still room for improvement in their food.

Our side profile are definitely our best side. lololol

Monday, April 13, 2015

Phnom Penh Day 2: Wat Phnom & Khmer Surin Restaurant

Our second day in Phnom Penh was packed with activities to visit places that play significant role to Cambodia. We crammed all the visiting into 1 day only as we wanted to save on the driver. Hiring driver for 2 days is too expensive and besides, all those places can be visited in a day if you plan your itinerary carefully.

So far, we have visited The Royal Palace, National Museum & Central Market. Our next destination is Wat Phnom, the famous temple set on a hill that plays a significant role in the beginning of Phnom Penh.

The entrance fee to Wat Phnom is $2 and we're not sure if guide is available at the ticket counter as we seek refuge at shaded spot from the hot sun while one of our friend purchased the tickets. Therefore, we were clueless about the significance of Wat Phnom. All that we know is it is rated as a must visit spot in Phnom Penh. Fail tourist we are, I know.

Well, I did a little research when drafting this post and the legend has it that it is tied to the beginning of Phnom Penh. Back in 1372, Lady Penh (Yea Penh) fished a floating koki out of the river and 4 Buddha statues were found inside the tree. She built a hill (Phnom) and a small temple (Wat) which is how Wat Phnom got it name, source here. In Khmer tradition, lady has higher power if compared to man. Our tour guide in Angkor Wat told us that Phnom Penh if translated from Khmer language stand for Lady of the Mountain. 

Wat Phnom is the busiest temple in the capital.Local and tourists roamed the temple for prayers and visit. They offer the release of bird for a small fee if you're interested to release one. And you can buy flowers as offerings and incense to light at the shrine.

During our visit, a prayer was going on. It was interesting to see them playing the music instruments which are very similar to Iban instruments.

Wat Phnom
St 96, Norodom Boulevard
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By the time we were done with our visit at Wat Phnom, it was around lunch time. Our driver took us to a decent Khmer restaurant as we were craving for a decent meal which translated into rice. Yes, we Asian can't live without our rice. Not sure if our driver is affiliated with the restaurant or not, but it was a good place with decent food for a fair price.

The only downside were they refused to turn on the air conditioner for us, we were seated on the second floor with windows opened. It was a really hot day :( and their wifi did not work.

The restaurant is called Khmer Surin. The claim about relaxing surrounding in the menu is true except that I wish they had turned on the AC to make it more relaxing for us, considering that we were the only patrons besides some businessmen/businesswomen having meeting in their private room there.

I had the fried rice with shrimp paste and 3 layered pork, mango and omelette as sides. It set me back for $5.5 and fresh coconut for $2.5. Others opted for pineapple fried rice and we had chicken amuk too.

While waiting for our food

Coconut, you are a life saver during the hot days. I think I had at least one everyday when we were in Phnom Penh.

Khmer Surin Restaurant
House #9, Street 57,
Phnom Penh

Till my next Cambodia post

Friday, April 10, 2015

Phnom Penh Day 2: The Royal Palace & National Museum

On our second day in Phnom Penh, we went to visit the Royal Palace in the morning. Everyone was excited as it is our official full day to explore Phnom Penh. We hired a driver that will drive us around whole day for $55. It was worth it because 1) the van has air condition, Cambodia is really hot and humid, guys 2) some places that we want to visit are quite far.

We were all excited and gathered in our hotel restaurant for breakfast and ready to leave after filling our stomach. But the hotel staff stopped us and informed us that our attire will not be allowed in some places that we wanted to visit.

Some places in Cambodia has strict attire protocol especially The Royal Palace and temples. Ladies should be modest and covered up which means no shorts, sleeveless tops and short skirts are allowed. As for the guy, any shorts past the knee length is fine. 

The entrance fee for The Royal Palace is $5 which is rather expensive if compared to other places. But The Royal Palace is really well kept and clean. It is the exact opposite of the outside. I guess the grass is really greener on the other side #nopunintended.

The landscape at The Royal Palace is so beautiful and for a while I forgot that I was at Phnom Penh. Not trying to be mean but after a day soaked in dust and saw litters and cockroaches everywhere, that was exactly how I felt when I was in The Royal Palace.

Not sure if this is the Silver Pagoda or not.

We went in without a guide because well, the admission fee is rather expensive so we skipped guided tour. In the end, we learnt nothing about The Royal Palace. I'm sure they are some great history behind it. So if you are keen, better opt for the guide.

There are many great buildings inside but we are not sure which is which. Some buildings allowed the visitors to come in but some are not. The atmosphere were tranquil as visitors are told to be quiet around the palace ground. Except for the occasional tour guide narrating the history of The Royal Palace, you can admire the architectural in peace. 

These kids on field trip are super cute.

Poser much? hahaha

We took like millions of photos there. Instead of touring the place, it is a huge place, we basically scattered on the center area taking turn to do photoshoot for OOTD. Yeah, we are vain like that but it was really fun.

Behind the scenes lol.

The sun was starting to shine very bright and it was getting hot. However, it gave us the perfect lighting for photo. So while waiting for our turn, we seek refuge under umbrella.

Photography failed but look at the lush background.

If you wonder who took most of our photos, it is Zyuan. 

The Royal Palace
Samdach Sothearos Boulevard, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Open from 7:30 -11:00 / 2:00 - 5:00

Our next stop is National Musuem. I'm not a museum person but it was fun looking around the artifacts. I'm still learning to appreciate the history values left behind every displays.

No dress code for National Museum so my denim jacket was gone. 

A selfie in the garden. Just realized that my brow game is damn strong here.

The entrance fee for National Museum is $5 as well. Again, we wing this visit without a guide. For a museum, a guide will not be necessary as there are many leaflets at the entrance for your reference. Most of the displays here are original statues from Angkor Wat, Bayon and other temples in Cambodia. The statues are not in good shape due to natural process and human activities.  Back in the days, the statues from the temples are often stolen and sold to other countries for a fortune. What left at the museum these days are the one that can be recovered. 

This is the bronze statue of the reclining Vishnu

Blurred photo because I had to rush this before the guard caught me. 

No photography are allowed in the museum but we still sneaked some until got caught by the guard. The guard then redirected us to the garden for photo. She was right, the garden is perfect for photoshoot and yes, we did take like another million of photos there before leaving for lunch.

I will share the photos in next post because this entry is already lengthy enough.

National Museum of Cambodia
Street 13
Sangkat Chey Chumneas, Khan Daun Penh