The Mekong Diaries – Phnom Penh
10th July 2018 – Day 4 of “Classical Civilizations” cruise aboard ms Jahan
After an early morning Tai Chi class on the pool deck of the ms Jahan and a big ol’ breakfast (you can checkout the buffet on our YouTube Channel), it was time to head out to Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh.The day began with a visit to Toul Sleng the infamous “S21” prison – where we bore witness to the suffering meted out by the Khmer Rouge during their reign of terror over the peoples of Cambodia during the late 1970’s. I remember, as a child, seeing the stories of the horrors unfolding in Kampuchia (as it was then known). It was a story we knew, but to meet living survivors of this period of modern history is very sad and moving in equal parts.
This somber tour was followed by a visit to the terrible Killing Fields located just outside the capital city. It is such a peaceful place – very quiet and sad – the mass slaughter that happened in secrecy there and in hundreds of other areas in Cambodia is truly mind-boggling.
We then went back to the city and lunch at the exclusive ‘Mallis Restaurant” where delicious local dishes were served up (and all included in our cruise fare). Switching gears, the afternoon was spent visiting the stunning Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
The Palace is the home to King Norodom Sihamoni, who does not hold any real political power, with the majority of the country being run by the communist party. You may be interested to know that the King’s full royal title roughly translates to: “His Merciful Excellent Majesty Protector, King Norodom Sihamoni, who united the nation, religion, realm, and people of Khmer state, great king who is supported by Buddha and Indra, protector of independence, unification, and peace, King of Cambodia, the Great King in the Kingdom of Cambodia” After the palace visit, we boarded individual cyclos for a short but exciting trip back to the ship’s dock which was right in the middle of the city.