Before leaving Phnom Penh there was one more thing that I wanted to check out – the killing fields. I knew the story about what Pol Pot had done but there’s definitely a sense of reality that’s brought by walking round the compound where the massacres took place, seeing the graves, listening the stories told first hand by survivors on the audio tour, the clothes and skulls that still come to the surface after it rains.
I won’t start a history lesson on what happened in Cambodia in the late seventies, but wandering round the killing fields and seeing it first hand was heart breaking. I left that place in a sense of bafflement, I’m not saying that there is ever a reason to kill, but for the leader of a country to kill so many of his own people over so many years, for no other apparent reason than to secure his place at the top of the food chain is beyond comprehension.
After spending the morning around the killing fields, I jumped on a bus in the early afternoon and headed for the coast as I didn’t like the idea of spending Christmas in the city. After a relatively short trip of four hours down to the South coast of Cambodia I arrived in Kep. There weren’t many choices as to hostels in Kep so I played the odds on what the pictures looked like online to get the best for accessibility, I chose a place called Oasis which was a little out of town but looked okay. When I got there I found that the path around the complex leading to all the rooms was in fact tiny gravel which made pushing through it a nightmare. The staff there were friendly enough and as they hadn’t got the reservation I’d made and had let out the room I had booked they gave me a free upgrade to a huge bungalow.
Christmas day started with a nice lie in which is exactly what I needed after the recent travel days. Opening the front door of my bungalow, I found that even though I was all this way from home Santa hadn’t forgot about me and there on one of the patio chairs was a small cracker made out of newspaper – I opened to find a Kramer, a Cambodian scarf. I thought that was a very nice gesture. After breakfast at the resort, I got a tuk tuk into town hoping to find somewhere that would be worth exploring. By this point in my travels I’d started running out of cash and needed to find an ATM, with my debit card lost in Thailand I was planning on using my credit card to see me through and it had worked fine in Phnom Penh so I wasn’t worried.
The first cash machine in the town centre was out of cash which was a let-down, but there was another cash point on the edge of town so all was not lost. Outside of the ATM I started chatting to a fellow traveller who was exploring Kep alone today. Laura-Lynn had just got into town and was exploring on her own just like me so we thought we’d grab some Christmas dinner. Christmas dinner consisted of a cheese omelette. Laura-Lynn was over in South East Asia on a trip with business school, being retrained after retiring from being a pilot in the US Air Force – very cool.
After hanging out for a little while with Laura-Lynn I decided to get back on the trail of the ATM. The tuk tuk driver from earlier was knocking about so I got a lift with him. In hindsight I shouldn’t have done this because I felt I got ripped off for the journey that we took, especially as my card was declined at the next cash point. With only $71 left in my wallet I figured that the it was time to move on and getting to a big city would be the best chance of getting some cash, if not then it would be more likely that places would accept credit cards and thankfully mine was still working. I booked a bus ticket for Boxing Day that would take me to Ho Chi Minh and my sixth and final country of this trip, Vietnam.