A lot of travellers skip Phnom Penh, but I decided to go observe the killing fields for myself. As a bit of preparation I went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former classroom which was converted to a torture jail by the Democratic Kampuchea regime led by Pol Pot from 1975 (notice that the wooden box is a waterboarding device). The killing fields themselves were a mix of mass graves and other sites of significance where Cambodians were beaten and then executed or buried alive. They had an audio self-tour which was detailed and surprisingly tasteful.
In the afternoon I went to the Seeing Hands massage parlour across town after briefly scanning the internet for business names, and when there I learned that all the massage therapists were completely blind. I didn’t expect a great massage, but I got one of my best to date, the girl’s sense of touch obviously accentuated by her disability. It was a great way to support a local charity and I would highly recommend going if you are in Phnom Penh.
The final stop on my tour was a lightning 24-hour visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, otherwise known as Saigon. I arrived at 3.30pm on new year’s eve so after a quick check-in it was off to Saigon Skydeck for a panoramic view of the city from the 49th floor. After that I decided to check out the Hard Rock Cafe for a grievously overpriced Western meal. The place was disappointingly small and didn’t feature live music like the one in Manila does.
After some searching, I found a deal including entry to two nightclubs, Observatory and Broma, and decided that they would be suitable for midnight. Many cocktails later I met Hazel, a Brit-expat English teacher who insisted that I dance with their group. She gave me a kiss at midnight, and again about an hour later before disappearing into the night. Bring on 2014.