FIRST FULL DAY IN CAMBODIA.

Hello! Mother is here to give me a right good ear bashing on what's what and whose who. So she's  decided to also take over my blog for the next couple of days, whilst she is here. Please enjoy!

Greg met me at Phnom Penh airport yesterday after telling me that he wouldn't be able to which was my second (wonderful) surprise upon entering Cambodia - the first being that the visa had gone up by $10 since my Lonely Planet guide was written in Sept 2014.  Flight over with Thai Airways was brilliant and managed to watch 'Frozen' at last.  A bit bleary eyed I got into the tuk tuk Greg had arranged to take us to his flat, driven by his friend Sky.  She drew a lot of glances as one of the very few female drivers in the city and then - out into the heat of a crazy world of thousands of motos carrying everything from up to 5 people (3 of whom are often small children and babies clinging on), tables, huge sacks, monks in their saffron robes sitting side saddle, live ducks gazing out with loads of chickens hanging upside down apparently hypnotised their beaks nearly on the road surface, tuk tuks loaded up with every conceivable item used by mankind, old ladies walking along with a stick across their shoulder with their cooking implements hanging from baskets on either end.  Lorries loaded sky high usually with someone on the top, little refreshment stalls with a moto attached with one bent wheel hanging on for dear life.  A trailer on a moto being loaded up with 20' wooden poles - how does he go round corners?  The side roads are full of potholes, dust, rubbish - then to my horror there are people on motos and bikes coming towards us on the wrong side of the road! Junctions - pah; traffic lights -  might stop if everyone else does; zebra crossings - don't bother!  I cling to Greg's hand when we cross roads now as if I were the child.  The trick is to be confident and they go round you!  

Everywhere is full of personal industry - cafe's, stalls, workshops fixing anything that has ever worked, shops stacked high with bits of metal god knows from where, another old lady selling snails off a tray by the road side, chickens on the bbq smelling delicious, all covered in a thick layer of dust and diesel.  What an experience - I can see why Greg loves it here. 

The poverty is unconsciounable - I watched a female street seller lay a blanket on  the pavement last night on the equivalent of the Embankment (but warmer) by the Mekong river for her small child to lie on for the night inches from the busy road.  Young boys no older than 5 or 6 approached us begging in a street cafe last night.  No-one walks anywhere - the pavements are broken up badly and covered by parked cars - huge 4x4's so there is wealth here and which are an obvious status symbol, heaps of debris, cafes, parked tuk tuks and motos on which you find the driver asleep.
 

I visited one of the 'Killing Fields' sites today in the suburbs and was very moved by the peace there as in the war cemetries in France and Belgium and the audio tour, then went to a genocide museum near where Greg works which was a secondary school before it was turned into a prison and torture centre by the Khymer Rouge in the second half of the 1970s.  People were taken from here to the Killing Field I visited to be executed.  It was full of photos of the people held there and the cells they were kept in.  They were the middle classes, the teachers, doctors, lawyers, shop keepers that Pol Pot hated despite being a teacher himself.  The rest of the population were worked or starved to death in the countryside growing rice to export to China to buy arms.  3 of the 8 million population were murdered. Horrific. When will we learn!