** first off thanks for the emails but ...

Trip Start Dec 07, 1999
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Trip End Jan 07, 2000


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Where I stayed
Cloud #9 Hostel

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, December 19, 1999

** first off.. Thanks for the emails but because of the amount I have gotten, I haven't been able to reply to any of them, if you didn't get a response to an message you sent me, I apologize but I'll have to catch up when I get back, Thanks!

"Phnom Pen... the big city"

Phnom Pen is the capitol of Cambodia and if you are coming to Phnom Pen after being in Siem Rep, its a little ... uh... different.

Being the big city that it is, the safety and relaxed atmosphere that I was accustomed to in Siem Rep was nowhere to be found here. Phnom Pen is lots of fun but its a little crazy.

"Hold on tight!"

The traffic situation is nuts! You can get a moto for about 15 Cents but no one wears helmets and there is just hundreds of motorcycles crisscrossing around all over... We bumped into a few cars a few times, the accident rate must be insane here! The price is cheap but they always try to rip you off, I think 15 cents for anywhere in the city was the average price... you get what you pay for I guess :)

"Cloud #9"

We stayed at the #9 guest house. Its built on the lake ( you can see the water between the cracks of the floor boards ) and it is really nice, at 2$ US a night for 2 beds you cant go wrong but... its a little noisy, our ear plugs were a must as the Mosque next to us played what sounded like eeeeerie muslim music till 6am.... Other than that, the hammocks and relaxed athmospher were conducived to vegging out and watching the sun go down. A nice getaway from the crazy streets of Phnom Pen.

"Fire at will !!!"

One of the best parts of Phnom Pen was the firing range! A surplus of ordinance in Cambodia makes for a good time. At the firing range in Phnom Pen you can shoot pretty much what ever you want... if you are willing to pay that is :)

18$US for an AK47 clip, 10$ for an M16, 20$ for a grenade... the list goes on. For 200$US a live cow or for 20$US a live chicken can be placed on the field as a target ... the paper targets did the job for me.

It's funny, I would have thought that after all of the years of playing violent video games (ala Doom) I would be a natural. Although I did get some good shots in on the target, adrenalin coursed through my veins so much that I quite literally couldn't keep a steady hand... I am glad I chose to skip the grenade, I would have probably dropped it 10 feet in front of me ... After pulling of a few rounds from my AK47, I have to admit I was pretty giddy all after noon... nothing like a little live ammo to brighten up your day! I popped a few off with the M60 and I got my fix....

"Genocide - An exercise in horror"

Cambodia's turbulent history is quite sad. Many monuments and sites in Phnom Pen revolve around the murderous Khmer Rouge and their atrocities. Needless to say, a day of sight seeing is a sobering and depressing experience.

After the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Pen in 1975 they began a killing spree to rid Cambodia of educated and free thinking Cambodians, tens of thousands were killed. Killed in horrible ways, the S21 prison and killing fields of Cambodia provide quite a disturbing insight to this.

The S21 detention center is a school which the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison. 17000 were killed here. Today, the S21 prison is a museum, walking through it reminded me very much of the holocaust museum in Houston. The attrocities are shocking... The Khmer Rouge did not shoot their victims, to save bullets they were beaten or killed in horrible ways, many of which are shown through paintings by local artists at the S21 prison. The most shocking painting for me was the one of the Khmer Rouge throwing babies into the air and spiking them with their bayonets as they fell... Some of the children, women, men and babies which were murdered here remain photographed on the walls of the prison... The photos were taken by the Khmer Rouge as they kept a detailed records of their victims, the looks in their eyes tell it all...

"The killing fields"

After being tortured and murdered the Khmer Rouge took the bodies to the killing fields. You can visit the killing field which is essentially a mass grave. As a reminder of the horrors which took place here a tower of skulls has been erected from the skulls found here. What disturbed me the most was a tree which was used to bash babies heads against...

"The russian market"

The russian market is great! tons of stuff you never need but the great part is the CD's. you can get CD's here for 2 bux a pop... if you are so inclined you can also get 20,000$ software for 2$US as well... Windows NT2000, Visio Enterprise etc.. all for the low, low price of 2$US. Guess piracy isn't illegal here, I skipped this stall....

"The wats"

A Wat is essentially a temple. Wat phnom, I would pass on, not too impressed. The silver pagoda on the other hand is nice. King Sihanouk lives here and its fairly impressive.

---

That's pretty much it for Phnom Pen. I found myself answering Internet questions from the staff at the Internet cafe and volunteering to give an Internet lesson to the crew... but, my flight to Thailand at 10:20am the next day made it hard to co-ordinate, in retrospect, that's probably a good thing :)

All in all I loved Cambodia, it was great. People are nice, Angkor is great and its a cultural experience which is very much worth experiencing. I have to admit though that travelling in Asia is alot harder than Europe. There aren't that many tourists here and english is hard to pull off. Maybe that's what makes it fun, the challenge.

I am in Chiang Mai, Thailand now, Nicky is in Koh Lanta, I think, and I am now travelling with Ed, an Australian mate. I am off on my Hill Tribe trek in 2 days and I'll update when I get back.

Cheers!
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