We arrive in the capital on the 1st of March. It is the first real city after Chiang Mai 5 weeks earlier. Way bigger than the small Vientiane. You have all facilities, and even some towers hosting banks. The traffic seems a little chaotic, but all in all, the centre remains quite small and the river side (coming in the Mekong there) is very nice.
The Royal Palace takes a big area on the map, but you can only visit only 2 buildings, particularly the “silver pagoda”. The silver is only used in the floor. Also call Wat Preah Keo, it hosts the Emerald Buddha: the 3rd of this kind after the Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok and Chiang Rai! Close to Royal Palace, the National Museum with many sculptures from the Angkor times can be visited in 30 to 60min.
We hire a tuk-tuk for a good half day to visit the saddest part of the Khmer history: the genocide from the Khmer Rouge. The Tuol Sleng museum is a former school used as the S21 prison. The “Killing Fields” outside the city is the remote place where the suspects were shot down. The macabre atmosphere reminds me Auschwitz in Poland. Despite all good explanation, I still cannot understand the motivation of these rulers: Pol Pot and his clique wanted to make a pure communist society without inequalities (but excluding themselves). They did from the worst, removing everything, destroying the economy, the cities and the education system: he forced every citizen to behave as a stupid worker in the rice fields, without any explanation or training. Each one not happy with that was suspected to be a spy and finally murdered! They killed their own people, it is so crazy!
Nowadays, the Cambodian people are so friendly. When we walked along the main post office in the late afternoon, and see a bunch of people enjoying the end of their working day. They immediately invite us to join them, so we cheers with many beers! These guys are policemen, army guys or worker in the electricity company.