Happy and Very Very Sad

Trip Start Nov 14, 2006
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38
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Thursday, March 8, 2007

The capital of Cambodia is a relatively small city, poverty is certainly abundant however the people are great and the city has bundles of character. The backpacker area near the lake where we stayed was a great place and had a vibrant atmosphere. I was told that in Cambodia approximately 40% of the population is under 20. This is a huge figure and it was certainly noticeable. There are not so many older faces due to the horrendous Pol Pot regime in the 1970s and you felt that everyone over the age of 30 we spoke to must have a story to tell.
We stayed at the No Problem Guest house where literally nothing is a problem. Happy Pizza is possibly Phnom Penh's most famous food, which is a Pizza of your choice topped with weed. It worked a treat and had Amy up all night worrying about a snake being in our room and the Khmer Rouge stealing our passports and using them to change their identities??? The nights where really funny and one Irish lad said "I am stoned because I eat Pizza and I eat pizza because I am stoned". One Canadian girl couldn't hide her happiness when just sitting next to us she spontaneously blurted out "I am having so much fun right now!" Anyway we visited Phnom Penh for other reasons.
We visited the Killing Fields where the Khmer Rouge massacred 17000 men, women and children and buried them in mass graves. They have all been dug up since and the mass collection of skulls, some with bullet holes or axe wounds, made it a completely unique and harrowing experience. It did not end there. We visited S21 which was a school turned into the Khmer Rouge's torture and interrogation prison. Many Cambodians were brutally tortured and almost all detained there were executed. The thousands of photos of the victims went a little way into helping us appreciate the scale and complete nondiscriminatory nature of the genocide that claimed over 2 million lives. The guide we had was a middle aged woman who told us her story. She was forced to work 18 hours a day in a rice paddy and her brothers and father were all killed by the regime. We could have gone to a shooting range after wards to have a go of AK47s and Bazookas but the thought that the guns may have been used by the Khmer Rouge completely put us off the idea.
We visited an orphanage with a $30 dollar bag of rice, coloring books and pens we picked up at the Russian market in order to donate. This was a really nice experience and we made a few young friends. Later back at the No Problem Guest house we were chilling by the lake when a couple of young lads pulled up in tiny boats. They took us around the lake and I freaked Amy out when I suggested maybe there might be some undiscovered bodies in the lake. 
One day we ended up at the Cambodian National TV station to see live Kick Boxing. This was a great find as it was free and beamed across the nation on TV. The tuk-tuk man who took us there, walked us straight in, picked up three plastic chairs and sat us at the ringside. We must have been on TV because the camera man continually focused on the three of us in between rounds.   
  We ate in some scruffy places due to a couple of days of trying to save a few bucks. One was on a pavement that literally had rubbish up to our ankles. Asians tolerance of garbage is something I can't and doubt will get used to. 
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