[Phnom Penh]~ Why was it just a Day?

—- There is a trite saying that “forever is not enough”, what more a day? – 04.18.14

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Each city in this trip has its own lovely but it is Phnom Penh that I fell in love with immediately. It was a city/town that reminded me a lot about Dumaguete, not only because of the tuktuk which I find similar to latter’s pedicab, but more so as it seemed a quiet town filled with more than enough interesting small shops and places where could hang-out. Despite some bad points in its history, there is this warmth and trust that I instinctively felt from the locals despite sadly limited encounters. Nonetheless sharing with you some stories and pictures of that almost one day in a place I would definitely go back to.

Phnom Penh

IMG_1275Prior to this meet however is this experience of having to cross border between the countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. It was definitely one in my to-do lists since I started budget travelling because I know it would allow me to save on airfare. I have heard from some friends too that it was an experience to have. It was indeed interesting because by hopping on a bus – there was just this quick checkpoint wherein we all had to go down (twice actually), fall in line quickly and get past immigration just as quick. It didn’t have that intimidating feel of the usual immigration encounters. What I remember most though is that there was this moment of slight panic when I had to entrust my passport to our lady guide. She got all passports then submitted it to the officer in bulk, like the rest of the guides.  To me who thinks of my passport as my temporary shadow when traveling (airline tickets can be reprinted, clothes and other essentials can be bought, etc -well you get the drift), all that time that a stranger was holding it (even if she was in my line of sight) stirred some sort of restlessness still.

The bus hours were spent mostly working taking photos of the road. My seatmate was a friendly guy but past the border, a lady asked to be seated next to me because she was scared and felt harassed by her guy seatmate. Met this lady Midori and we spent quite some time talking about her travels, in her commitment to fulfilling her dream to travel the world. (We became Facebook friends and I continue to see her adventures there).

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Random breakfast at Ho Chi Minh before heading to travel agency office in Pham Ngu Lao

where we would have to wait for our us to Phnom Penh

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I certainly did not just want some eggs but this eating place in an alley may not have been that used to tourists dining there that the lady didn’t even bother explaining to me what I pointed at

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Was just curious because we have these snacks in Manila as well

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Not that visible but some bubble stuff going on near our bus

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This Malaysian ‘videoke’ my in-bus entertainment

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Their version of “ukay-ukay” (secondhand items shop)

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To How I Met Your Mother fans, there’s your pineapple incident

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Hmm. I quite don’t get the first one.

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Wow. What a documentation.

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Border-crossing begins

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“Don’t leave me, Mommy!”

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Welcome to another country!

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I am again seeing those temple-like structures.

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View from the other side

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This is sharing too much information (TMI!) but saw this interesting reminder. Don’t you worry, I flushed, did not flash.

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At the first (and only) stop-over

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Our bus, there is

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Fellow Filipino travellers

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Spicy stuff for my boyfriend!

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A new friend

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As we were nearing Phnom Penh, we were welcomed by this rather long red dirt road and despite the bus driver’s reckless driving and unnecessary and baseless honking, it was to me an enjoyable ride and sight. For some strange reason. (Maybe another story if I was not riding an air-conditioned bus.). Or maybe it is how I enjoyed house-watching especially because I thought I was seeing this pattern of houses being elevated which led to my hypothesis that it could be because flooding was frequent in this side of town.

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Dust-blur

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Then soil turned more red than gray

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A typical house on that part of town

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IMG_1275Upon reaching the terminal, shared a tuk-tuk with Midori and another solo female traveler from Germany. They were the ones who also helped me decide whether I should still try to go to the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum as it was approaching closing time. I trusted my instinct and after surrendering my heavy luggage to the counter, spent an hour hovering in classrooms-turned-torture-venues during a certain period in tiem. I am no historical junkie but the thought of events transpiring in those rooms gave me not the creeps but more of a strange feeling – an uncanny combination of being wanting to be there when all that happened, but also a feeling of gratefulness that I never experienced such. At the end though, that visit left me feeling weak on my favorite time of day.

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Shared tuktuk for us solo travellers

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This room just of many

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Could almost imagine a person lying on that bed..

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And these photos sure did help.

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Traditional feet shot

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Set-up essentially the same but bigness varies

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Where those dead lie

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Haunting

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Black cat, what do you bring?

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xxx

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Barrier

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This labeled as the wooden bar where keys used to unlock prisoners’ common chain are hung

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Cells during what could have been a nice time of day

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Leads to where

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Where mug shots are taken

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Some remains stored in a room. (Most are in Killing Fields which is located off-town)

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This man a blessed survivor

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And this one seemingly having his snack

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Are those mangoes?

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On my way to hostel. This friendly driver even stopped to remind me to secure my belongings

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After some torture at the torture cells, went to check in at my hostel which gave some relief as my heavy mood was luckily altered upon discovery that hostel has this graffiti that I intended to but failed to find in Ho Chi Minh’s streets. It was a busy hostel (and one seemingly popular among backpackers as well) that I ended up getting a bed at the topbunk. I was too careful going up so as not to wake up the sleeping fellow guest on the bed beneath mine.

Bipolar tendencies kicked in at night and suddenly felt lonely which according to a newfound friend is ‘normal’ during solo travels. Nonetheless still went walking in search of a place to drink until I ended up downing local beers Angkor and Cambodia while listening to some kind of Cambodian sentimental music. What a funny caption to my sentimental mood on my first and last night. As the streets leading to hostel didn’t seem walking-friendly, I decided to go back early and just drink at the bar in the hostel. When I went back to my room though to charge some gadgets, ended up taking a nap until almost midnight. I was like “whoa, I missed a lot”. I could still hear some party on the common bar on the roof deck though I was wanting to drink in the more quiet one downstairs, it was already closed. On my up, came across two guys who were drunk who said something to me about partying. I got scared of course and chose to not just look them in the eye.

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Just so I remember price of beer

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My first Cambodia beer over some local TV

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Busy table

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Because we are related to monkeys

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Monkey doodles.

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Shelf-love

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Reception-slash-business center

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Hostel graffiti

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And here again my bed clutter.

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Room this dark when I was preparing my luggage for take-off

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Welcome and goodbye

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Personally felt those were wasted hours on sleep but then again, on the bright side, I just know that definitely – I will again come to see this place. There is always a chance at a second meeting, right? (Which reminds me, I still have free long weekends in 2015!)

How to get there:

From Ho Chi Minh, took a limousine bus via Mekong Express from Pham Ngu Lao. Booked my ticket online weeks prior to trip via their website. Instructions and ticket for confirmation would be sent to your email. This print-out I had to present to their office night before my trip.

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