Friday, November 8, 2013

Phnom Penh by Tuk Tuk

On our second full day in Phnom Penh we hired a tuk tuk driver, who went by the the name of Johnny, to take us to the "Killing Fields" and a couple of other sights. It was strangly relaxing being driven though the city traffic, which seems chaotic but actually has a bizarre flow which works well and did not bring about the least amount of apprehension in either of us. We weaves between busses and tuk tuks and motor scooters carrying their multiple passengers, bushels of bananas, sacks of something, and in one case, a large dead pig. The exhaust and dust from the barely paved roads grew string as we carried in and out driver offe us each a surgical mask. It was very useful for keeping the grit out of one's teeth, but no so condusive to smoking.

We arrived at the Killing fields of Choeung Ek, which are really very peaceful, due to the their rural setting and despite their horrific past. We did the audio tour of the sight, which was very good and informative, giving the history of the otherwise non-descript spots along the walk. After Choeung Ek we went by tuk tuk to the Tuol Sleng prison, where so many people were held, tortured and executed. It was a sobering pair of sights, but certainly worth visiting.

Finally, we had our driver take us to the "Russian Market", large market, very similar to the first, but more labyrinthine and containing more crafts and sounveniers. We had some vegetables, noodles and fried ginger at a food counter and took the tuk tuk back to our hotel.

Yesterday was the first day that it felt really hot to me. All the other days so far were hot, but in a totally bearable, humid, Miami sort of way. Yesterday afternoon though it felt very hot as I went for an afternoon walk. I visited a couple more temples and walked to an area which was quite fancy, which I promptly left, as I felt too dirty and shabby to be there. All around the streets local people were setting up for the next day which is a holiday, and flags were hung above the streets. 

In the evening, we dined and people watched before making our way back to the hotel along the wildly uneven and dark paving stones, sidestepping holes, garbage, and sleeping families.

That was yesterday. Now we are at the airport about to board a 45 minute flight to Siem Reap.

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