Calm Before the Storm - A Sign of Things to Come

Trip Start Mar 12, 2008
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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sihanoukville was a great place, just what the doctor ordered after the traveling of the last few days. Three nights of chilling on beach swings, indulging in the local 'happy' shakes and pizza's and being conned into skinny dipping by a devious little minx (yes Shelley, I mean you). But who's complaining? Not me thats for sure alot of fun was had on a powder white beach, with crystal clear waters - and a day trip to Bamboo Island, an idyllic little strip of sand about 10km of the coast has me believing paradise can still be found.

Well paradise for those who never fell of the wonky chair anyway!

So short of being either drunk or hungover, (which was great) nothing of any real significance happened in Sihanoukville. As a group we'd been together for a week or so, and the polite conversation had given way to that more suited to a group of friends in most cases, with a good dynamic. Pretty much everyone stayed together the whole time. Beach together, eatin together and while some partied harder than others, everyone was up for a laugh and taking things easily.

We where to find out too, one of the guys on the group is actually related to someone a bit famous, he proudly told us. Well Sort of. Someone who has appeared in all the Harry Potter Films. We were intrigued.......and to be wholly disappointed and massively amused when in all seriousness, with less irony that a bad Vietnamese person sings Karaoke, said person went on to tell us that his cats, yes his cat, second cousin was the caretakers cat in the films. Wow. We were all, quite literally, speechless for seconds. Until the laughter broke out and he proceeded to get a tad miffed. A theme that was to continue for another 3 weeks or so after other pearler's such as; A strawberry is a fake fruit, A deer is th whales closest relative genetically - apparently a deer went for a swim one day, decided he liked it and grew a tail, and a blowhole - amazin, banana's are herbs and ants count there steps. Would you like to know how scientists discovered that ants count there steps?
Well they watched alot of ants leave the colony and go on a walk one day, when the ants decided the ants had walked far enough or had gotten tired or maybe decided there wasn't any food in the direction they where heading, and turned back the scientists attached tiny little ant sized stilts to their legs (and therefore, giving them a longer step) and watched them walk home again. However, the ants didn't go back to the colony oh no, instead walked past the colony and from that, we where told, scientists deduced that ants count there steps!

Well if I happened to be walkin the shops, and decided to turn back home, because maybe I'd left my money or something, and at that precise moment some really huge giant picked me up and attached stilts to my hands and legs, I don't think I'd be in any rush to go home either. aside from the problem of not being able to fit through the front door and the ridicule I'd get from the people I live with. I'd probably be thinking, how in the name of Buddha am i going to get these big, ridiculous looking pieces of wood of me or looking for the fucker who thought attaching them to me might be a good laugh.

Wow, got a bit carried away there, but it was a bonding experience for most of the group.

Well I'm sure you get the impression of Sihanoukville, but one other thing will stick in my mind;

While in Thailand, I read a book called Surviving the Killing Fields a biography by Hang Ngor, and while being well written, historically accurate and amazing honest, it was also very hard to read. Emotionally.


Our last night in Sihanoukville we decided to rent a mini theater and watch a film called The Killing Fields. Which just happened to star the Author of the book. While of similar names the film is not of the book, but the film is an account of a true story. A story of a Cambodian Journalist, working with American Journalists (including John Malkovich - Co Star). I wont go into the plot, you can download it for free via bit comet or Limewire if you wanna see it, the film itself was horrific.

The book, which goes into alot more detail of the terrors suffered during what can only be described as a holocaust, should have prepared me for what I was about to see. It didn't. And I'm not ashamed to say it upset me, on more than one occasion.

The reason we chose this film was because the next day, we where due to visit the torture prison S21 where only 7 out of nearly 20,000 inmates survived and also the killing fields themselves, mass graves where those killed where buried. We felt that it would be nice to get, well you know, 'in the mood a little bit' - for want of a better phrase.

I was, by the end of the movie, in tears as where others. However what struck me most was that for maybe half hour after leaving the cinema, there wasn't much said. Everyone who watched that film was moved by it. For me, 3 things got to me: 1. we were seeing this for real the next day, 2. this happened in my lifetime and 3. The lead character (who was to receive an Oscar for his role) who acted so convincingly, on location in Cambodia actually lived through the reality of all the things we saw on the screen and had the courage to relive it again, relive it so publicly and why? To get a reaction? To move those who watched it? To gain support to bring the guilty to justice? I don't know the answer. I do know that he had 10 people who where horrified by what they had seen on film.

Tomorrow we where to see it for real..............
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