Travel Talk

Killing Fields, Genocide Museum & 1 Day Vietnam Visa in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

killing fields mass grave skulls phnom penh cambodia

What’s happening,

Is that a long title or what!? I used to care about making it one line, I don’t care anymore. I did a lot today for a guy who woke up and was out the door before doing anything you’d normally do when you wake up, nothing. Let’s talk about the killing fields, Genocide Museum and same day aka 1 day visas to Vietnam in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Ask around about a visa, most guest houses wanted ~$40+. I was like, ok whatever. The tuk tuk driver who really “worked on this mark” yesterday was around when I went down, of course he was. Go with him and turns out it’s $40us and same day. Guest house places are like ~2-3 days. Why? Sihanoukville has the consulate and supposedly it’s cheaper and 1 day there. If you ask a guest house, they will tell you the Embassy does not do the 1 day thing… Wrong. Also you need photos, I got 4 from this little place on the way for $2 in 2 minutes.

Oh yeah, the guy after stop 1 was like “hey, I’m having family issues, I need to go… This guy will take over for the day though”. The guy who took over was this nice old guy, not the kinda guy that can grind out the street solicitations like the young cats. Anyways, I like that racket. The guy who is slick but not creepy, speaks great English and will wait around bus stops at night for new arrivals… He gets paid, buddy gets paid.
If you are with a tuk tuk driver all day and you go buy yourself a $0.50 coke? Get him one too. If you ask they will shake their hands hard saying no “oh no” because they are used to get nothing. If you give them one, they’ll be thrilled it’s a great gift of good will.

Got my visa same day for $40 us. From the “River Side” you can pay a dude $2 to get you there and back to your hotel, I just did. Drop it off in the morning, pick up at 4:30. That said, he had to wait ~30 minutes so I gave him a 50 cent tip. Sounds pikerish but 50 cents is ~25% tip, indeed. I will note this was a motor bike taxi, not a tuk tuk. Just one of those tiny bikes on the roads with a driver whose job is going “ride or die” in some of the craziest traffic I’ve ever seen.

Supposedly, 5 years ago, Phnom Penh only had 2 traffic lights… That’s it, just 2 lights. There are a lot of cars, it’s controlled madness. I’d say besides the odd idiot, most don’t speed and always accelerate slow, because there is always someone there. Also you slow down when someone merges, most do simply because you have to.

My guy went out into mid section of a massive 4 way with all others coming same way. All 4 bikes just stopped like inches from each other in a perfect square. Then slowly made the way out. It’s madness but it’s controlled as much as chaos can.

Checked out the Killing Fields next. The place is worth visiting and quite sad and weird feeling, walking through all the mass graves and signs about the “Killing Tree” and the “Magic Tree”. Supposedly the “magic tree” was where they played loud music so it was harder to hear the pain, moaning and suffering. Truly tragic state of affairs. There is a monument / temple? in their honor. It is filled with skulls, I paid the $1 for some flowers and a candle type combo. A place that made you think.

Also a few kids begging outside the fences. They will ask you to take their photo then ask you to show it, also ask for ~$0.25us in riel and for water. I told them if they had an empty container I’d fill them some. No money though, imagine if everyone paid? That’s the problem, that’s a whole other topic really.

phnom penh cambodia killing fields mass grave

After that it was the Genocide Museum. That place was creepy, I can only imagine what it was like to of been held there. Not only to have been held there, but tortured and fully knowing what your ultimate fate was. All buildings were horrendous, similar but different. The place was originally a primary and secondary school turned extermination & torture camp.

There are many rooms / cells to go through. Many explanations of “what went on and how” as well as photos of inmates, remnants of the torture devices, setups in some of the bigger solo cells for political prisoners similar to what it would have been like. Most also included a photo of the dead / dying person. I’m actually quite sure everyone in every photo was dead, if not definitely on last day. They had these cast iron beds, a pillow maybe and an old ammunition or gas tank to put their waste into. Also shacked around the legs and usually lots of blood on the floor.

I’ll write a big update on this sometime, I also took lots of video. I also went the wrong way out, ended up on the ground floor with no exit but the way I came. I looked around and behind the stairs there were just hundreds of old shirts and pants piled up. I went in further and looked around the corner for the part truly under the case climbing down, even more. I could be wrong, but I do believe in 1976 it had ~5,000+ inmates. That or how many had come through total. It could be either one.

phnom penh cambodia genocide museum khmer rouge

Enough about that, if you are here though, go check it out. I paid my guy $12 for the day. Supposedly you can get it as low as $8. That said, you’d probably pay $4-5 to get your visa had you not read here it was only $2 so it all works out. They may ask you $20US as a starter for a day of Killing Fields, Genocide Museum and Vietnam Passport.

On a side note, I’m going to a Korean place for dinner with a Canadian lady I met in Sihanoukville who works here. Sounds good as I’ve been eating NOTHING but club sandwiches and poutines at this local place run by an English gent. Service is slow, food is good but the place is great if that makes any sense. It’s also dead most of the time but you run into a more random set of travelers and residents than a typical “Khao San Road” style here, which I believe there is one. I walked there today, didn’t see anything too crazy.

My visa is set for March 5 – April 4 or something. He said “mark down a day you will definitely come after”. Does that mean, it’s open to start between there or that’s it? If so I’ve just cut one of my countries a bit short, indeed I have. I seriously have no idea.

This is going nowhere, I’m actually going to post a few photos. Phnom Penh is good times and I’m glad to be spending some time here. I’m starting to think almost every country you visit, will be cool. Just different. Eastern Block is HIGH on my list, seriously. Finally, I quite enjoy being driven around foreign cities by somewhat trust worthy but also somewhat nefarious characters soliciting `transport`.

Peace out from Phnom Penh,

P.S: You been to the shooting range?

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