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Published: April 7th 2014
We Must Be In Cambodia
Our Tuk driver recommended this place to us and it was a hoot. Great Khmer food and dancers too. Dinner and a show!
Good Bye Vietnam! Even with a year on the road to play with you soon discover that the world is a very big place and if you want to experience a chunk of it, well then you're going to have to pull up stakes as much as you're enjoying the place in which you find yourself.
We headed to Cambodia via the Mekong River crossing in Chau Doc, Vietnam. We've covered Chau Doc ad nauseum in previous blogs so I'll be brief. Karen and I had been through Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta at least a half dozen times before but as it was Karlie's first visit we showed her the high points of town. Like the fish market and the fruit market and the scene on the Mekong where women row sampans across the great river while standing upright and wielding long, heavy, T-handled oak oars. Stilt-houses perch over the surface so close to the water that they appear to be floating. Their chicken-wire basements are enclosures for the raising of fish for later consumption. Big barges haul gravel and rice up river to Saigon. Produce fields cover the Mekong's banks. Cone-hatted people tend to tall trellises of
1st Night In Phnom Penh
After a brutal travel day we decided that a celebration was in order so we headed to Rory's Pub on 178th Street near the Royal Palace. Seedy bar with a great crowd and even better music.
Long-Beans. Everyone is doing something all of the time here, resting only after dinner when they spend time with their families at communal tables. Giggling babies bouncing on their knees. The Mekong Delta is one mellow place to be.
After a night at a local hotel we boarded a boat for Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The fare is $16 US and the ride takes six hours. After stopping once to have the Vietnamese police stamp our passports out of country we stopped again a few miles down river so the Cambodians could issue visas and collect $44 US fees. These stops took about 90-minutes but we got to play with some puppies at the Cambodian customs house so it was all good. The other passengers on the boat were primarily Kiwi's and Eastern Europeans. Farmers gave their Water Buffalo baths in the river as we passed by. In Phnom Penh we were met by a horde of Tuk drivers (a Tuk is a 4-passenger covered wagon drawn by a scooter) all looking for a fare. We pushed through their ranks and climbed the stairs to the street above. The sun was angry this day my friends. Karen, Karlie and I
Breakfast Over Phnom Penh
Our hotel restaurant. The Salita Hotel. Note all of the construction projects in the background. The best thing about the restaurant is the view. When it comes to cuisine; Cambodia is definitely not Vietnam.
were covered in a gritty sheen of malodorous sweat by the time we got our ride to the Salita Hotel. Nice room with all the bells and whistles including breakfast for $37 a night. We be livin' high on the hog! We celebrated our arrival with showers and a night at Rory's Pub on 178th Street. I sipped root beers while the girls dipped into their cocktails. Classic Rock hits played loudly in the background. It was a fine evening.
We went to S-21 the next morning as none of us had been before. This is the infamous Khmer Rouge interrogation/ torture center in Phnom Penh. It was in an old Cambodian high school. If prisoners survived the interrogation they were trucked 15 km south to be executed with farming implements or axe handles or plastic bags. There were over 17,000 people killed at or near S-21. Nationwide the number of dead is estimated to have been between one and two million people of all ages. The interrogators/ executioners were young people. Most between the ages of ten and twenty years. It was as if the Khmer Rouge leadership had taught their kids to pull the wings off of
Giang and Mike
I've known Giang for over 5 years now. He's 28 years old and lives in Saigon. A no-B.S. kind of guy that reminds me of my son Noah. Motivated and fearless.
flies and then let them have human beings to see what they could do with them. The young can be so imaginative. It was a sobering visit. It always amazes me how the most obscene evil can bubble forth in the most ordinary of places. The classrooms were converted into chambers of horror. Some still have blackboards on the walls. Through them flowed men, women and children of all ages. Four Americans who were captured while sailing off of the Cambodian coast were killed here. Welcome to Hell in 24-hours or less. To date only one person has been convicted and sentenced for the crimes committed. Don't hold your breath for any more. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuol_Sleng_Genocide_Museum
Phnom Penh swings the gamut from ultra-luxurious living to extreme poverty. Some families are literally living on the streets. Cooking on Hibachis and sleeping in hammocks. At night the great unwashed scour the streets and lanes for any scraps of recyclable material. Limbless victims of landmines pull themselves along the sidewalks looking for a handout. Per capita annual income in Cambodia was less than $500 US in 2013. Entire villages are being evicted so that huge new resorts can be built in
Boat Napping Backpacker
This dude has the right idea. It's a long ride to Cambodia. Most of the passengers were Kiwi's and Eastern Europeans.
the name of progress. Hence the street people. Some of it is hard to stomach. Especially the sex trades which pander to ALL tastes at bargain basement prices. If you're a Westerner with bucks in your pocket, Phnom Penh is your oyster and it will shuck itself for your dining pleasure. Local pharmacies sell assorted opiates over the counter and anything they don't have, your Tuk driver can provide. It's a strange place. Cambodians use American currency. ATM's here spit out US bucks in all denominations. Dine outside and a stream of small children will stop by your table trying to sell you braided string bracelets, three for a dollar. How can we not?
We got the idea to visit India. We applied for Visas at the Indian Embassy here. (Cheaper and faster than doing it in the States) We expect our papers to be completed on April 9th after-which we are heading to Siem Reap and the wonders of Angkor Wat. You know; The place they shot part of the first 'Tomb Raider' movie. We first visited the temple 8 years ago with our son Noah. Going back without him will be bittersweet for Mom and Dad. While
Bike Boy Chau Doc
Spotted this little guy in the town square.
we await our documents we spend our mornings at the Hotel Cambodiana gymnasium. $30 a week gets you access to the gym, the pool and the tennis courts. Living like colonials is not bad. Karlie and Karen hit the aerobics while I fiddle with the weights. Doing aerobics is fine but the resulting weight loss is the last thing I'm looking for at this point. Poor me.
Shouts to Rick Stites and family. Ila; Write us a note please. Noah; We'll eat French food but only to make you happy. Patty; I haven't forgotten about it. I'll do snail mail when I reach Thailand. Hello Stacey and Reed. Are we there yet? Liz, Jamie, Coley and Ava; You'd love the scene out here. Parts of it at least. Sorry we missed you in Saigon Truc. Peggy and Jeff; Meet us in Bangkok. We'll do lunch. Lewis and Lisa; She's good. I watch her like a hawk but she doesn't know it. Mom and Dave; You'd like the weather here since there's no snow. Jan and Neil; Heard the wedding went swimmingly. April and Scott; Leave Chicago. Run for your lives! Literally. Jane and Brad; How go things at home?
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