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Chris' most awesome journey

Last country on my trip!

THAILAND | Tuesday, 16 July 2013 | Views [318]

Phnom Phen – Bangkok: This morning I spent 3 hours at Toul Sleng Prison, also known as S-21.  This used to be a school but was converted into a detention center during the regime of Pol Pot (among other things).  Here people were held prior to bringing them out to Killing Fields.  When it was liberated in 1979, there were only 7 survivors out of the 12,000 that passed through here.  I was fortunate to meet the last two living survivors during a book signing ceremony today.  I also had a guide that was able to give me her personal account of what it was like to live during that time.  Phnom Phen was turned into ghost town three days after the Khmer Rouge took over on April 17, 1975.  All persons living within the city were forced to go out to the countryside and work in the fields.  Some estimates have that 25% of the population was killed during the Pol Pot regime (1975 – 1979).   

After that, it was onto the Russian Market.  Here you can buy anything: food, tires, DVDs, jewelry, etc.  It is one full square block filled with stalls.  The DVD for the Lone Ranger was on sale for $1.25 and the movie just came out!  Not sure how they did that.  Speaking of sales, the currency in Cambodia is the riel but nobody every uses it.  Everything is quoted in USD.  If something is .75 cents and you give them a $1, they will give you the change in riel.  That is the only time you will actually see their money.    All ATMs dispense US dollars! 

A quick walk around town and then off to the airport.  I was pleasantly surprised with Air Asia.  I would compare them to JetBlue (leather seats, new planes, smart uniforms for the flight attendants).  The flight was only 1 hour and I felt that we were back in civilization again: cars going faster than 30 MPH!  Having to deal with currencies with so many “000,000s” previously, it was a pleasure to deal with the baht (30 Baht=1USD).  The Vietnamese taxi cab union called ahead to advise them that “stupid tourist” was on his way.  My driver of course tried to overcharge me.  If the meter reads: 187 baht, Chris is only paying 187 baht (plus a 50 baht fee for the driver plus the toll road fee).  She backed down from her original request so now the score is Evil taxi cab drivers – 2 / Chris – 2.  Tied!

As I am typing up this blog (12:30 in the morning), I am beginning to know how I got such a great deal for this centrally located hotel in the shopping area.  Other hotels (Sheraton, Grand Hyatt) were going for $200 + a night and this was only $50.   The great advantage here however is that I get to listen to the blaring music from the disco clubs right next to my room without having to pay a cover charge!  Lucky me.  Hopefully tomorrow the internet will be fully functional and I will upload some videos and recent photos.


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