by Dr’s Prabhu and Savita, TMA members Sydney
Cambodia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South East Asia; Airfare, accommodation and food are cheap – though you can splash out and spend up to $800 dollars a day in Raffles hotel. We started our 6-day visit in the capital, Phnom Penh with a local cycle rickshaw ride. Hundreds of cycle rickshaws take tourists around the city highlights; the markets, Royal Palace, and the old colonial French area (including the only post office where people have to collect their mail instead of having it delivered to their door.)
Our Palace visit started uneventfully enough, but as our guide walked us to the palace entrance to obtain an entry ticket, an elderly gentleman waiting in the ticket area suddenly collapsed, falling heavily on his face onto the concrete floor. We went to his aid. After his condition improved we learnt he was a holidaymaker from Adelaide travelling in a group – which at that moment was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, as he was feeling unwell, he decided to rest while the rest of the group were visiting the Palace. He told us he was diabetic, on medications, and had became unwell the previous night. The heavy fall resulted in a nasty laceration to his face and nose, plus a few missing front teeth.
When his group leader returned, we advised the tour guide that the gentleman needed to be escorted to hospital for medical attention: repair of the laceration and possibly a brain scan to ensure he had not suffered any head injury.
This event highlights the importance of obtaining Travel Insurance prior to departure, just in case of this type of un-foreseen circumstances. Furthermore it is most important that travellers have current Tetanus and Hepatitis B vaccination.
The Royal palace is architecturally well designed and covers a vast area with palace museum, official visiting place for dignitaries, royal residence and stupas. The French occupied Cambodia from 1853 to 1963. However, though the French ruled for well over for 100 years, the young Cambodians all speak English. Cambodians also have a notable preference for American dollars over local currency.
We visited the killing fields close to Phnom Penh, and the School museum. This is a very emotion charged and sad place, where thousands of people were tortured and killed during Pol Pot’s evil regime from 1975 to 1979.
There is monument erected in killing fields which contains thousands of skull and other skeletal remains unearthed in the area: very somber and moving. We had the good fortune to meet one of the killing field survivors, he has published a book, (worth reading)
On Day 3 we travelled from Phnom Penn to Siem Reap. On the way we stopped at a village commonly known spider village. The market sells baskets of cooked spiders, cockroaches, grass hoppers and frogs. These local delicacies were on sale next to cooked birds / sparrows, and an interesting selection of small marble size bird eggs. We were not inspired to taste this exotic fare however.