Phnom Penh, Cambodia / by tina gonsalves

 

Wow, in Phnom Penh. We arrived a couple of nights ago. We had booked a little loft style flat on airbnb. We arrived late, and after organizing visas on arrival - we were the last ones out, with our lonely driver, nick, waiting for us. We follow him out, expecting to get in the usual big car, and he takes us to his little tuk tuk. It was a sensory intro to Phnom Penh. 40 minutes later, zooming through the streets, the kids are asleep in the back. He drops us at a corner street. Very local. All the cycle drivers are having a sleep, rubbish pouring over the street. Pablo wakes up and says, ‘where are we?, and where are we sleeping?..’. We walk up a stairwell that is looking a little too local for me. Matt is staring at me, I can tell he is thinking - ‘where the hell are we?’  I am desperately hoping that the apartment doesn’t resemble the state of the stairwell. Four floors later, carrying hugo, my legs are aching, and we open a few locked gates to reach our apartment. Its tiny, but clean. You have to love airbnb how it throws you into the local life quickly. We put the kids to bed, and had a few Cambodian beers on the balcony - watching the street life below. Felt really wonderful to be here. Cedric, who owns the airbnb , lives next door.

 

We had a huge day yesterday. Ventured for breakfast. Wasn't long before everyone is picking up little hugo and giving him hugs. He starts to get a little concerned. Then Nick greets us - for a day of touring Phnom Penh in his tuk tuk. The Royal Palace - beautiful. The russian markets - smelly and intense - Pablo told us we had to get out of there - the Genocide Museum - horrific. I was unsure if the genocide museum, which explores the regime of Pol Pot, would be ok for Pablo - I explained a little bit about what he might see, and he said we was fine with it - gosh, it was housed in S21, an old high school which became a torture chamber for anyone suspected of being against pol pot. There were images of torture, skulls, instruments of torture. It was intense for me, so I kept monitoring pablo. We did the audio tour, and we left feeling much the same way when we have left concentration camps in Germany - horrified, a bit sick and feeling quite empty. Up to 3 million people died. The cambodians have had a horrific past to deal with. 

Hugo exploring the royal palace.

Hugo exploring the royal palace.

breakfast hugs for hugo. He is not so sure about all the attention

breakfast hugs for hugo. He is not so sure about all the attention

 

We went to the national museum - some amazing sculptures taken from Angkor Wat - and surprisingly - there was actually a australian/cambodian exhibition on - sadly, they hadn’t even bothered to turn all the video works on, so we missed out on a lot of it. We were heading to the foreign correspondents club, when we all decided we were too tired - time to go and rest. The weather is hot and steamy. I am sure, at the peak of the day it was around 38 degrees. By about 2pm, the thunder clouds started rolling in, and we were greeted with some rain, which could things off beautifully.

the National gallery, Phnom Penh

the National gallery, Phnom Penh

escaping the sun at the Royal Palace. its hot hot hot here.

escaping the sun at the Royal Palace. its hot hot hot here.