Phonm Penh, Sihnoukville, islands and temples
After our rather long boat journey up the Mekong to Phnom Penh we arrived feeling hot and tired and made our way through the barrage of tuk tuk drivers to find our hostel. The hostel turned out to be one of the most basic places I've stayed at so far... Mattresses on the floor with mosquito nets, no glass in the windows, a chilli bin with a padlock was our safe...there were no cockroaches or spiders so I was happy enough.
I decided to only spend one full day in Phnom Penh which gave me enough time to go and see the museum and memorial for the Khmer Rouge regime - the S21 prison and the Killing Fields. Both were extremely harrowing and eye opening experiences and although we'd all talked about going to the shooting range at the end of the day (where apparently you can blow up a cow with a rocket launcher,) not surprisingly none of us felt like going any more having just learned about how nearly half the population had been brutally tortured and massacred less than 30 years ago.
Our group of 4 split after Phonm Penh with Ness and Owen staying on in the capital for a couple more days and Dan and I decided to go down to the coast to check out Sihnoukville. We planned on only staying 2 nights which very quickly got extended, as after our first night out we met 2 Aussie girls who persuaded us into coming to one of the nearby islands with them. Our rather spur of the moment decision turned out pretty well - the island (Monkey Island) was amazing, totally idyllic and we spent the night in a rustic barasti hut on the beach. Sadly we didn't have nearly enough time there and Dan and I had to head back to the mainland after less than 24 hours on the island as we had to get to Siem Reap to meet Ness and Owen again (definitely will be coming back to see more of the islands.) At one point we even considered skipping out on Siem Reap and staying longer - Sihnoukville and the islands are somewhere you can get totally sucked into and I could have easily spent at least 2 weeks there... But we knew how amazing Angkor Wat and the temples were going to be so after one final day of lazing on the beach in Sihnoukville, we got back on a bus and headed north for Siem Reap to meet up again with Ness and Owen.
Had we have missed out on Siem Reap I think I would never have forgiven myself. The temples were next level - I don't know what I expected but I definitely didn't realize just how big they were and how many there are! As we'd spent an extra day on the coast Dan and I now only had 2 days to cram in as many sights as possible. As it was cloudy both afternoons we were there we didnt get to see a sunset but we did somehow manage to all make it up in time to see sunrise one morning, although we nearly didn't make it and ended up with us all running up a hill at 5.30am to catch it in time... Was 100% worth it though. So after 2 full days of temple hopping and some rummaging through the markets of Siem Reap we said goodbye to Cambodia and also to Dan as Ness, Owen and I were headed on to Bangkok and Dan sadly was off home. It again feels like I haven't given myself nearly enough time to see Cambodia properly and the only solution is that I'll just have to come back again to see the bits I've missed!