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The Minority Report Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you'll die.


CAMBODIA | Wednesday, 27 February 2008 | Views [936] | Comments [2]

On our boat bus boat canoe boat bus bus ride to Cambodia, we met up with some fabulous people. Since the tour was lacking and quite mundane, it helped that we had good company among us. Our group consisted of two Brits, two Canadians and a fellow American from New York. After our spectacular tour of the Mekong floating markets, fishing farms, minority villages, coconut candy making we waited at the border to get our visas taken care of. Then they managed to pack 23 people and all of their luggage in a small van to take us to Phnom Penh. I was afraid the older gentleman in front of me was going to fall through the floor considering I could see the rode we were treading on through a hole under his seat. Plus the fact that his seat was already broken and sloping into the bottomless pit. He got really scared when I told him and held on for dear life. The ride into Cambodia was like no other. And as soon as we got settled in our $1 bed, we all scurried off to town where we were greeted with friendly smiles and cheerful hellos. The impression we were given about Cambodia was the exact opposite of what we encountered. The people are extremely polite, beautiful and take you in as one of their own. There are no kids with guns walking the streets or people constantly trying to rob you or rip you off. They are more honest and willing to help you out.

Phnom Penh doesn't have much to offer besides the Royal Palace, a Wat, a pagoda, and of course Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. We visited the Tuol Sleng Museum, where in 1975 Pol Pot's security forces turned this school into security prison 21 (S-21), which was the largest detention and torture center in the country. Walking the grounds of this place was very distressing. Every room had a story to tell, whether it be the empty room with nothing in it, but a wire bed with shackles, cell blocks smaller than a closet or the mugshots of the 20,000 men women and children. After visiting the Genocidal Museum we went to "The Killing Fields", where large numbers of innocent people were killed and buried in massive graves. A commemorative stupa displayed the victims skulls some with their teeth still intact. It was an eerie moment when I looked around and saw an empty vast of nothingness, then heard the sound of children playing at a school that was next door. Strange.

The next day Adam decided to stay with us while we got new pages in our visa while the rest went onward. On our way there we ran into a lovely park that had tons of monkeys just hanging around. One had picked up a broken mirror and discovered himself. It was pretty neat to watch him look in the mirror. We also ran into a random elephant. Poor thing. Not much else went on that day. Oh, except for our expensive, but well deserved cocktails and this fancy schmancy hotel. It's fun to splurge every now and again. We only went for the "free chips and salsa" add in the paper.

On to Siem Reap, where we conquered Angkor Wat and 20 billion other Wats. The first day we got into town just in time to see the sunset at Angkor Wat. It was quite nice, despite the massive amount of tourists there. It was built for a King in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. It's the epitome of the  classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become the symbol for Cambodia, appearing on their national flag, and the biggest tourist attraction in the country. Which means it was overly crowded and hard to get a great photo. Therefore, we decided to go the some less travelled. But the bridge we needed to cross in order to do so collapsed just before us with a truck full of sand and a taxi still on it. Supposedly this happened three years ago. I can't imagine why considering it was a steel bridge held up by wooden stilts. It was a mess, but very amusing to watch these people figure out what they were going to do next. We had no choice but to cross the filthy river to get to Banteay Srei. This Wat had some amazingly intricate details to it. Ta Prohm was another one that blew us away with GInormous trees shooting through corridors, around and on top. Incredible. By the third day, Mel and I were feeling a little under the weather and Watted out so we let Adam go on his own while we stayed in town. Mel was still feeling ill that night and decided to skip dinner. Adam and I went to the center of town to find that we were missing out on all the action of this small town. There were a couple of streets with posh restaurants and bars that must have all had the same interior decorator and were packed with people in them. We still decided to go back to Phnom Penh the next day. It's the starting point for every excursion in Cambodia.

Mel and I were jonesin for some relaxtion under the sun and fresh water to cool us off so we headed to the beach. Again. Sihanoukville was a very small place, but a fairly decent place to chill out. We managed to make a week out of it. We'd roll out of the hotel around noon or later just in time for lunch, where we'd stroll the beach until we found a cozy papasan to lounge around in and do absolutely nothing all day. Then later that evening we'd indulge in fresh grilled seafood and cocktails before hitting up the local cinema. Sometimes I think we are spoiled. We did rent bikes for a day to check out another beach. It was more secluded for there weren't any hagglers to pester us into buying their products. That was one thing I disliked about this beach. Way too many hockers! And the fact that before you got to the beach the streets were filled with litter. Even on the beach, man! Sad thing is it's the locals who are the ones destroying their country. Their income, too. I was swimming in the ocean and I thought a jellyfish brushed up against me, instead it was just a plastic bag. They must be mutating all ready.

After the beach it was back to Phnom Penh to get our Loa visas, then we headed on up to Kratie just for a night because there is absolutely nothing in this ghost town. The hotel we stayed at had a local worker who had the hots for us. He went above and beyond his call of duty. Or at least he wanted to, but we were so exhausted that we turned down his offerings and went straight to sleep and didn't wake up until the next morning. Our bus was supposed to pick us up at noon, but we sat around until about 3 until it finally showed up. This was the most expensive bus ride we have purchased so far and it was the worst bus ever! They managed to fill up all the seats and the aisle, where people sat on top of our luggage. We rode on the bumpiest dirt road. I mean there was dirt people. When we got off the bus our entire bodies were coated with dirt. We looked like Oompa Loompas. No joke. And the entire time I had the luxury of being crammed in the back seat with Mel and four other people including a restless one year old who neeed mothers milk every fifteen minutes just so she wouldn't start crying. She was cute, but sheesh kebabs! We were just glad that it was only four hours and not seven like we were told. When we arrived in Ban Lung, Rattanakiri Province it was all ready dark so we hopped on some motos to the Lakeview Lodge that was recommended by our hotel in Kratie. Except we didn't get no lakeview, but we weren't going to complain since all we really wanted was a nice shower. We had dinner lakeside at their restaurant and the owner's mother cooked our food and it was some of the best food we've had here! Delish.
We went to check out the volcanic crater lake and swam with the locals. I tried busting out some of my old front flips, then quickly realizing that I wasn't 13 anymore. It was still fun, though. We came back to the hotel after sunset and just hung out in our room when we were rudely interrupted by the guy who was in Kratie!! We didn't have curtains in our room. The ONLY room that didn't have curtains and he knocked on our window to talk to us. Odd. But we ended up going out to eat with him, an Indian guy named Baloo, and his taxi driver. Turns out Thel (the hotel guy who liked us) was helping Baloo find some cashews here because that's his line of work back in India. I just thought it was ironic that I happened to mention Thel to the owner of this hotel, who is also his friend, and he just shows up randomly. It was an odd, but amusing night out. Before the boys could fall too much more in love with us we hurried off to bed since we did have to get up at 6 am.

Our journey to the Loa border felt like we were in a National Lampoon Vacation movie. To this day, I'm still baffled by it all. We rushed to get on the bus skippin a shower and breakfast only to sit on the bus and wait for another hour. When we left Ban Lung we didn't stop until we arrive in Stung Treng where we switched from a bus to a mini van (no one told us to we just figured it out on our own that we had to change buses here) just to drive not even 30 kilometers to stop at a random restaurant. For what? Beats the hell out of me. After sitting there for 45 minutes we got back into the van to go 5 minutes down the street to the dock where we hopped on a tiny boat that tuk tuk took us to the other side of the river (The bridge hasn't been completey built yet). After we got off the boat we hiked up a hill and there is five of us who figured we were going in this mini mini van so we piled all of our luggage into the back only for our driver to tell us 5 minutes later that we were packing into this car that he was filling up with gas. I was wondering why he was filling up the gas tank in the car if we were going in the van. But he was standing right next to us and didn't say a word. Meanwhile all the locals are laughing at us because we packed our things in some random guys van. We drive to the Cambodian border to pay them a dollar. Why? Who knows. Then to the Lao border to pay them a dollar, too. Hop back in the car to a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. We are told to wait here 10 minutes. But 10 minutes turned into an hour, then finally someone showed up to tell us that we had to wait another hour. 10 minutes turned into 3 hours and we found out we were waiting on some other folks to go on a dolphin tour. When they were finished we piled into another mini van to drive one mili-second down the road before another van pulls up and tells us to get out. By this time I am not in a good mood. I haven't showered. I'm hot and sweaty. I'm tired and hungry. And all I want to do is get to Lao. But finally after some debacle over tickets and yada yada yada, we get into this van only to drive 35 kilometers to the border, where we hopped into a boat in Si Phan Don (4000 islands). Once I was in that boat all my troubles were left behind me. And when we docked on the island of Don Det there wasn't a single soul trying to sell me a single thing. For once we found what we've been looking for all along. This is what remains of the past, how things used to be, what you imagine in your head of Southeast Asia to be like. This is Lao.

Tags: Adrenaline



Hi,sounds like fun.Well not the prison but your trip. Just wanted to say hi...Love you Dad

  David bryant Feb 25, 2008 8:42 AM


Hi girls,
Hope all is ok. Mel good talking to you last week. Im here in Houston with Steph to see her new hous and spend time with her during her birthday, we went to eat sushi. We also went to see the rockets and yao ming play. You would not believe that he has a stress fracture in in foot and now is lost for the season. They made that announcement after I bought the ticketss, what a bummer. I here you have tickets for April 5th to go to LA. Hope I can come up to see uou guys around then.Take care see you soon,

Love Dad Hong

  Stephen Hong Feb 27, 2008 6:06 PM



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