Published: September 5th 2011June 11th 2011
On the way to Phnom Penh, our bus stopped off at some street stalls. Many locals were chomping away on what, to them, looked delicious. On closer inspection these guys were feasting on deep fried bugs. Cockroaches, grasshoppers and huge spiders. One lady was eating them like a packet of crisps, in the seat in front of us, on the bus. Not to my liking whatsoever!
James and I had little time to enjoy the sights of the capital city. However, that did not result in a lack of goings on. Firstly, after requesting to be dropped off at a hostel, by a tuk-tuk, we discovered it no longer existed. The Lonely Planet was only a year out of date. How could this be? We actually caught it during renovations but the same highly recommended family, who ran it, luckily had moved next door. Crisis over. With an adequate room, James and I were just relaxing watching WWE when our fan exploded. The possible power surge literally made the blades shatter. A terrifying ordeal when we were quietly watching John Cena strut his stuff, in the ring.
The following day, we ventured to the infamous "Killing Fields". I did
not know what to expect. A pagoda stood central to the area. As we approached we saw it housed all the skulls of the exhumed bodies, from the mass graves. Thousands of them (8,500 in fact) were stacked in a random fashion that stretched several metres in height. A very odd sight to which I did not know what emotion I felt. An eerie silence hung over the tower too. A truly surreal sight.
Behind the pagoda were the remains of the mass graves. The surprise was the lack of size of them. Not particularly deep or wide, these graves held an unimaginable amount of bodies. Truly shocking. The worst sight was that of the killing tree. This is where babies and children were held by the feet and slung onto the tree head first. How were the executioners able to do this? So inhumane and yet this civil war only happened 35 years ago. Some members of the Pol Pot regime are still under trial today. A crazy thought.
The site contained many signs informing visitors of the atrocities of the recent past. Though disgusting to think about I couldn't help but feel humbled and privileged to now
know more about it. James and I left feeling different people and wondered why we did not know more about this before. Also, the recent history is such a contrast to all the Cambodian people we have met so far. All have been friendly, hospitable and always have smiles on their faces. Not a particularly dangerous place where tourists can feel safe too.
To lighten the mood, James and I ironically decided to go to watch the televised Cambodian Boxing. Several men beating the living daylights out of each other, cambodian style. The atmosphere was buzzing and the traditional fighting music always makes it more fun. James being one of only three Caucasians in the crowd got a lot of attention from local children as well.The best thing was that it was free and located in an open TV studio. All the fights were competitive but the best fight was saved until last. In the red corner, the fighter was a kicking specialist, with spinning and flying back kicks. In the blue corner was a boxing specialist, who was a giant. They were transferring blow after blow until the blue fighter landed several hefty head shots in a row. The
red fighter did a comedy stumble but his legs had gone. He landed flat on his face with a thud. The crowd went wild. A top way to conclude our Cambodian culture experience. With a KO!
That evening James was booking a flight back to Bangkok in a couple of days. What he did not know is that he accidentally booked it for a ridiculously early time the next day. He realised this very late on and needed to find a printer. We hunted around for an Internet cafe, for a good hour or so. Eventually we found one. Brilliant! Then we discovered James could not log in to his flight. Nightmare! Stress central. James had to go to the airport not knowing if he had a flight or not. To cheer him up we went to the local Sports Bar, ate huge American style burgers, drank a few beers and played a lot of pool. It was all rounded off by watching the quiz episode of the Office. Very good day to end a fantastic ten days with a great friend.
More Bangkok awaited James whereas I was to fly to Kuala Lumpur to meet a special
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