The Heat is on in Saigon

Posted by  Daniël Cronk   in       15 years ago     636 Views     Comments Off on The Heat is on in Saigon  

The trip from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh took 6 hours by bus. It was not a bad bus ride. There were many beautiful scenes along the way. Although now I am wishing I had taken the boat, there is always the next time, right?

Phnom Penh is actually a rather unsightly scene. There are tuk-tuk* drivers and moto drivers EVERYWHERE. Hey Mister, you need tuk-tuk.. Hey, Hey you, where you go? NO thank you.

I ended up visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda on the first day. A lesiurely 3 minute walk from my hotel, which was located on the river front action of the Tonlé Sap. I had my own private veranda which allowed me to "spy" on the life of the city. It was very nice. Yesterday, however, was not very nice. I spent most of the day visiting the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Cheoung Ek Killing Fields. During 1975 to 1979, under direct order of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge formed and destroyed nearly 2-million of the Khmer People. Those who were seen as a direct threat to the Angkar (The name the Khmer Rouge were referring themselves too).

Tuol Sleng (also known as S-21 Prison) was the mainstay for the Khmer Rouge. Before 1975 it was a secondary education school filled with classrooms and students. But was soon turned into the S-21 prison. Inside the compound there are photos of the prisoners, along with grim reminders of what human beings are capable of doing to each other. From Tuol Sleng it was a meager 30 minute tuk-tuk drive to the Cheoung Ek Killing Fields. Here basically is where they brought the enemies of the Angkar to be killed. Amassing numerous graves of those who suffered under the regime. A very sad, solemn place.

Today I entered the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This is just the nice way of saying it is a communist country. The bus took nearly 7 hours including 1-hour at the border stations. The road conditions south of Phnom Penh to the border town of Bavet are NOT in very good condition. Not to mention road rules. Do they even exist here? Yesterday in my tuk-tuk the driver hit someone on a bike and didn't even stop. Even when I protested. When I got off at the hotel he told me not to worry about the biker. It happens all the time. Then today was a nightmare. I don't know how many times we almost got hit. I was very happy to see Vietnam... Which, the roads are considerably better condition.

Now, entering Ho Chi Minh City (a.k.a. Saigon) was an interesting experience. There are bikes and motorbikes EVERYWHERE. It is just this mass of bikes swerving this way and that way.

Since I arrived here at 16:30 I have not been able to see anything of the city. I have however booked myself into a day trip tomorrow to see the Cu Chi tunnels (tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam/American War to hide out seeking the Americans the Viet Minh soilders to seek and destroy). Also for tomorrow is a stop at the Great Cao Dai Temple. One of the major religions of Vietnam.

On Saturday I set myself up with a 3-day, 2-night Mekong Delta Tour. Should be an interesting experience.

Well, that's enough for now. HOpefully tomorrow I will have some photos for you of Phnom Penh and the Cu Chi tunnels. I only have space for a few more photos on my card before I burn them to CD. Oh, the money here is interesting. I went to the cash machine and got myself 2,000,000 Dong which is roughly US$125.... Going to be an intersting 20 days.... Ciao--


I am very passionate about traveling. My goal is to visit as many places and experience as many things as I can during my short journey on this earth.