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Archive for the ‘Cambodia’ Category

Travel Tips for Cambodia

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 20, 2017

2017

You have to bring:

  • Prescription medication.

Everything else can be bought in Cambodia, but not as cheaply or as easily as in Vietnam. But, it can be done.

Quick disclaimer: We only stayed in hotels in Cambodia. For 2 people, hotels were either cheaper or just slightly more expensive.

Things you can buy here but you should bring with you:

  1. Luggage
    • Bring a backpack instead of a suitcase.
      • It’s easier for bus rides.
  2. Clothes
    • Everyone sells the same exact clothes here.
      • You can get a good deal, if you are good at haggling.
      • Larger sizes are harder to find. So, if you are taller or chubbier than average I would not depend too heavily on finding lots of clothes.
      • Many pants are unisex and one size fits most.
    • You might not find your usual style.
      • You will look like every other backpacker, unless you shop at malls which only carry smaller sizes and have less discounted prices.
    • You will need to have at least one short sleeved (non-tank top) shirt and one pair of shorts or a skirt that covers your knees to enter some temples. This is true for men and women.
  3. Towel
    • All hotels provide guests with towels.
    • But, I don’t know about hostels.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
    • All hotels provide guests with shampoo and body wash.
      • Sometimes I didn’t like the shampoo or body wash so I bought my own.
    • You are never given conditioner.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in Cambodia.
      • You can find many popular brands like Dove, Pantene, Finesse, and Lux.
    • But, I don’t know about hostels.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant
    • You can find this here, but the brand selection is limited.
      • It’s mostly Dove, Nivea, and other brands I’ve never heard of.
  6. Sunscreen
    • It’s mostly Banana Boat and Nivea.
    • Many (not he Banana Boat brand) come with “skin whitening” (whatever that means).
    • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, and suncreen at a convenience store, but they will be cheaper at grocery stores. Grocery stores will have more variety, too.
  7. Over the counter medicine
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone

Tuk-Tuks:

  • Settle on a price before getting into the tuk-tuk.
  • Some will have a laminated flyer with destinations and prices.

Money:

  • Get cash from ATMs.
  • Get US Dollars.
    • Make sure, when given change, you get “legit looking” bills.
      • No bills with writing, odd marks, dirt, or anything that looks counterfeit.
  • Make sure you use up all the Cambodian Riel before you leave.
    • No one out side of Cambodia wants it.

Scams:

  • No scams in particular.
  • Just watch out for overpriced things and tuk-tuk rides.
    • Even overpriced items are cheap when compared to prices back home.
    • Overall, almost everything in Cambodia is inexpensive except for some restaurants.
      • Restaurants away from the tourist areas are FAR more inexpensive.

Visa:

  • If you need a visa to enter (Americans do) get a visa beforehand to save time.
    • The cost of a Cambodian visa at the border or at the airport is 34USD. (I know all the websites say 30USD, but it’s actually 34USD.)
      • It’s not a scam, because everyone pays 34USD. If it is a scam, it’s a very consistent one.

Cambodia
(កម្ពុជា)
(Kampuchea)

How to get there:

  • You can enter Cambodia by bus, plane, train, or boat.
  • You will need visa to enter. You can get a visa at the border, get an e-visa, or go to the nearest Cambodian embassy or consulate and get a visa.
    • I got my visa at the border, so I don’t know what advantage an e-visa would give you.
    • The cost of a Cambodian visa at the border or at the airport is 34USD. I know all the websites say 30USD, but it’s actually 34USD.
      • It’s not a scam, because everyone pays 34USD. If it is a scam, it’s a very consistent one.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Fire 118
    • Police 117
    • Medical Help 119

Websites:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • The US dollar is the main, however unofficial, currency.
    • Only paper money; no coins.
    • When getting money from retailers as change, check the bills.
      • Return anything that looks suspicious and ask for a new better looking bill.
      • If you have a suspicious bill, you will be stuck with it. No one will take it from you.
      • Refuse to take anything with rips, writing, or stains.
      • Refuse to take anything that looks fake, even if it’s a one dollar bill.
  • The local currency, the Riel, is used mainly as change less than a dollar.
    • Pay for things in rial, is like paying for things in quarters.
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2017 A Flight Oddity

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 15, 2017

Thursday, May 18th, 2017


Mark and I flew out of Cambodia on an inexpensive Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur. There was a moment when I thought we would have had to stay another night in Siem Reap. When we were at the airport there, I saw a very weird looking guy walking around the airport. He wore a Rugrats t-shirts and, I think, a wig.

He walked up to the Dairy Queen counter and asked the price of their beer. Dairy Queen doesn’t serve beer, at least not at the Siem Reap Airport. He made a little scene where he over acted his astonishment at the lack of beer. He looked around to see what attention he got. Not many people noticed him, so he walked away to cause a disturbance else where.

Inwardly, I hoped he was not on my flight. He was not just a weirdo. He was an attention seeking weirdo. One that wasn’t getting the attention he craved. This could not lead to anything good. I had just become aware of the existence of this man and only after a few minutes I knew that trouble followed this guy wherever he went. At best, he was just some guy with mental or social problems. At worst, he was up to no good.

When we were on the plane and everyone was seated and ready to go, the flight attendants closed the door. We just sat there waiting. Then the door opened again. Walking down the aisle was an airport official wearing a reflective vest and talking into a walkie-talkie. Behind him was Mr. Rugrats. He walked down the aisle glowering at some passengers and giving goofy smiles to others.

The airport guy walked Mr. Rugrats to his seat and got him to sit down. Then the airport guy left. Once the official was off the plane Mr. Rugrats got up and walked to the back of the plane to speak with a flight attendant. I don’t know what Mr. Rugrats said, but it upset the flight attendant. He ask Mr. Rugrats to sit down. But every time he sat down, he would get up 2 minutes later to bother another flight attendant or glower at passengers.

Flight attendants walked Mr. Rugrats back to his seat several times. We had not even left the ground and already these hard working people were exhausted taking care of just was silly man in a Rugrats t-shirt. He just wouldn’t stay seated long enough for them to do their jobs.

Finally another official came and took Mr. Rugrats off the plane. There was a very normal acting man who Mr. Rugrats sat next to, the few seconds he actually sat down. He was Mr. Rugrat’s friend. He was given the option to stay on the plane or leave and help keep Mr. Rugrats calm. He left with his friend.

An attendant made an announcement to explain what happened. The 2 guys landed at the airport earlier in the day, but the government refused them entry to Cambodia. They had to go back to their country, Malaysia, and our flight was the last flight to Malaysia that day. Cambodia wanted Air Asia to take the 2 with them.

But, they did not fly in on Air Asia, and our pilot didn’t want to take responsibility for the one who was behaving oddly. He was willing to take them to Malaysia if, and only if, Cambodia provided 2 escorts to accompany the strange man. Cambodia did not or could not do that. So, our pilot refused to take Mr. Rugrats. Cambodia retaliated by refusing to give our plane clearance to take off or to allow anyone to get off the plane.

I don’t know how things got resolved. After an hour and a half stand-off, our plane left without either of the 2 guys. Who knows what happened to them.


Cambodia
(កម្ពុជា)
(Kampuchea)

How to get there:

  • You can enter Cambodia by bus, plane, train, or boat.
  • You will need visa to enter. You can get a visa at the border, get an e-visa, or go to the nearest Cambodian embassy or consulate and get a visa.
    • I got my visa at the border, so I don’t know what advantage an e-visa would give you.
    • The cost of a Cambodian visa at the border or at the airport is 34USD. I know all the websites say 30USD, but it’s actually 34USD.
      • It’s not a scam, because everyone pays 34USD. If it is a scam, it’s a very consistent one.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Fire 118
    • Police 117
    • Medical Help 119

Websites:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • The US dollar is the main, however unofficial, currency.
    • Only paper money; no coins.
    • When getting money from retailers as change, check the bills.
      • Return anything that looks suspicious and ask for a new better looking bill.
      • If you have a suspicious bill, you will be stuck with it. No one will take it from you.
      • Refuse to take anything with rips, writing, or stains.
      • Refuse to take anything that looks fake, even if it’s a one dollar bill.
  • The local currency, the Riel, is used mainly as change less than a dollar.
    • Pay for things in rial, is like paying for things in quarters.

Posted in Cambodia, Siem Reap | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Angkor Wat

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 10, 2017

Monday, May 15th to 18th, 2017

We went to Siem Reap for one thing and one thing only. We wanted to see Angkor Wat. We weren’t really enjoying Cambodia that much. I’m not sure, maybe it was the genocide being less than 40 years ago, but it just wasn’t half as fun as Vietnam was. So excluding the day we arrived and the day we left, we stayed only 2 days in Siem Reap.

Arrival Day  

  • Option 1: Buy AW Tickets after 5:00PM and see the sunset?

The very first day in Siem Reap we made our first Angkor Wat orientated decision. We chose not to see the sunset at Angkor Wat. You see, on the day you buy a ticket, if the ticket is purchased after 17:00, you can enter the Angkor Wat complex without it affecting how many more days you have left to tour the temples. It’s like a sunset freebie.

  • Option 2: Sunrise at AW?

We were tired from traveling the 7 hours it took to get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh. So, not only did we not head right over to the Angkor Wat ticket office, We didn’t even schedule a tuk-tuk to take us there early enough to see the sun come up the next day. Instead, we agreed that he should come pick us up at 8:00 the next morning. Actually, I groaned on the inside at the thought of not being able to sleep in the next day, but then nodded at his suggestion that an 8:00 pick up would be ideal if we didn’t want to see the sunrise.

Mr. Le

Siem Reap Day 1 — Option 3: Buy either the 1-day, 3-day, or 7-day ticket?

  • Option 4: Bike or Ride?

Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Le, showed up as scheduled and took us right to the ticket office. I read online about people who rent or borrow bicycles from their hotels to get to Angkor Wat. We passed a few of them on our way and I thought they were crazy. It was very hot even this early in the morning. “Most of them will not make it back this afternoon,” I thought. Even if I were in the greatest of physical shape, the heat alone would deter me.

  • Option 5: Buy a sarong?

Mark only had shorts, having thrown out all his long pants in Vietnam. They were all too hot for the Vietnamese climate and they weighed his pack down. So, now he had no pants that completely covered his knees for Angkor Wat. There, knees need to be covered, even male knees.

There are shops at the ticket office selling snacks, drinks, food, bags, sarongs, and all manner of tourist items. Mark walked into a store to pick out a manly looking sarong. He tried on a few, holding them around his waist and looking at himself in the mirror. None of them were “him”.

Seeing what Mark wanted the sarong for, a sales lady told Mark, “Pants okay.” She pulled on the end of Mark’s shorts to show that it stopped almost below the knee. The shorts didn’t fully cover the knee, just most of it. He did not need a sarong after all.  

I had to yell at some tour group people to get out of the shot, right before this photo was taken.

  • Option 6: What order?

We read about “temple fatigue” and knew we would be very susceptible to it. We had already suffered from “travel fatigue” a few times on the trip. These syndromes happen when you have too much of a thing. You become overwhelmed by or tired of temples, travel, or whatever.

The best cure is to stop doing the thing that you are tired of for a day or two. For travel, Mark and I might spend a day in the hotel watching movies, hang out at a park, or stay at a café where Mark reads online articles and I blog. (I’m writing this right now in a café in Bali as a cure for “beach fatigue”.)

It wasn’t a matter of “if”, but “when”. So, we chose to visit our must-sees first. That way we could leave when the “temple fatigue” hit. We chose to see, Ta Prohm, Bayon (Head Temple), and Angkor Wat, in that order.

Ta Prohm, the temple from Tomb Raider, was picked to be first because it is a popular afternoon stop for tour groups. These groups move through the temple 30 or 40 people strong. They are slow, constantly stopping to take selfies, and always getting in your selfies.  Once you get stuck behind a tour group, all you can do is wait, or have clumps of tourists in all your best shots. It’s best to avoid tour groups at all cost.

We picked Angkor Wat, the temple all the other temples are collectively named after, for the afternoon. Most people will have seen it shortly after sunrise. So, we hoped that it would be least busy after lunch. I don’t know if that is when it is least busy, but we did manage not to run into a tour group until our way out of Angkor Wat.

We also explored Elephant Terrace since it was not too far from Bayon, the temple with all the faces. There were so many photo-perfect moments interrupted by other tourists mindlessly stepping in the way. It was also hard to not be a mindless tourist myself, since at any given time other people were having photo-perfect moments themselves.

Most people tried to be as respectful of other people’s shots as possible. It was a little hard with so many tourists taking photos at all times. The only people who just didn’t care about ruining other tourists’ shots where the ones in tour groups. Something about being in a tour group makes people obnoxious and act like everything belongs to them. Tour group patrons would jump the queue of tourists patiently waiting to take photos with certain statues or doorways or take forever with a thousand and one selfies before pulling out another camera to take more photos.

  • Option 7: Buy a guide book?

At the entrance to every temple there are touts trying to get you to buy stuff. The most common thing they sell are guide books. You can buy one for really cheap, I hear. But, like me, most people have done their research before getting to Angkor Wat and a guide book at this point is a bit useless.

The Cambodian government would rather you buy from the adults, if you are going to buy something, and not from the children. Kids are recruited to sell things because they are cute or pitiful. The people forcing them to sell, think that tourists are more likely to buy from them. These kids are taken out of school to sell junk. If people stop buying from the children, their overlords might let them go back to school.

Sometimes you just have to rest and enjoy an icy drink.

  • Option 8: Stay for sunset?

We never did get “temple fatigue” because regular old fatigue and the heat got to us first. We spent 2 hours wondering around Angkor Wat after lunch and had to take many breaks and several liters of water to get through it. There were a lot of stairs to climb.

To cool down we ate some ice cream at a shop near the temple before looking for Mr. Le again. He asked us where we wanted to go next. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon. I couldn’t climb any more steps. We asked to be taken back to our hotel.

On our way back we passed a few tuk-tuks with bicycles shoved in the back cab. The cyclists looked so tired, many of them could barely sit up. “I knew it,” I thought. At least they didn’t have to bike back to their hotels…

  • Option 9: How will we recover?

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel’s pool. Later we were even too tired to go out for dinner. We ordered room service and went to bed early. It was a great day.

The following day we leisurely walked around town going from coffee shop to coffee shop. I did some writing and Mark got a 2-dollar haircut and shave. We felt like rich people because everything was so cheap.

Then we walked into an upscale mall. It had shops like Armani Exchange and Montblanc. I couldn’t even afford to buy a pen in that mall. I went from being a high roller to a peasant by just walking through the door. We didn’t stay long.


Cambodia
(កម្ពុជា)
(Kampuchea)

How to get there:

  • You can enter Cambodia by bus, plane, train, or boat.
  • You will need visa to enter. You can get a visa at the border, get an e-visa, or go to the nearest Cambodian embassy or consulate and get a visa.
    • I got my visa at the border, so I don’t know what advantage an e-visa would give you.
    • The cost of a Cambodian visa at the border or at the airport is 34USD. I know all the websites say 30USD, but it’s actually 34USD.
      • It’s not a scam, because everyone pays 34USD. If it is a scam, it’s a very consistent one.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Fire 118
    • Police 117
    • Medical Help 119

Websites:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • The US dollar is the main, however unofficial, currency.
    • Only paper money; no coins.
    • When getting money from retailers as change, check the bills.
      • Return anything that looks suspicious and ask for a new better looking bill.
      • If you have a suspicious bill, you will be stuck with it. No one will take it from you.
      • Refuse to take anything with rips, writing, or stains.
      • Refuse to take anything that looks fake, even if it’s a one dollar bill.
  • The local currency, the Riel, is used mainly as change less than a dollar.
    • Pay for things in rial, is like paying for things in quarters.

Siem Reap
(ក្រុងសៀមរាប)

How to get there:

Websites:

Notes:

  • During the hotter months, I recommend getting a hotel with a pool.
  • Other than Angkor Wat there are lots of adventure sport things to do in Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat
(អង្គរវត្ត)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 13.376835, 103.880741 (Ticket Office)

Address:

  • Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Phone:

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • One day 37USD
  • Three Days 62USD
  • Seven Days 72USD
  • Cambodians can enter for free
  • Tuk-Tuk ride 15 – 25USD

Hours:

  • Ticket Office 5:00 – 18:00
  • Sometime before sunrise to sometime after sunset.

Videos:

Notes:

  • Be sure to see:
  • Always keep your ticket with you. If an official asks to see it and you cannot produce it, you will be fined.
  • Food at the site can be a bit overpriced and not very delicious. Try the Golden Monkey in front of Bayon and Angkor Wat temples.

Map:

 

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The History Tour

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 5, 2017

Wednesday, May 10th – 15th, 2017

Learning History Through Travel

In high school I was a pretty good student. I went to class, paid attention, did my homework, passed my tests, and passed all my classes. I did, however, put more effort into courses steeped in math and science. I thought of these as more absolute classes, with questions that have real answers. I did well in subjects like literature, religion, and history, but I saw them as less important. Their questions came with vague answers based on feelings and emotions or other very subjective foundations.

History was the worst of them all. Not only was it very subjective and most of the time one-sided, but history lessons were unforgivably boring. Even when I tried very hard to pay attention in class, I just couldn’t. To be honest I studied history just to pass tests. I didn’t think history had anything for me since it didn’t interest me in the least.

This was before Youtube, John Green, and even the History Channel.* For me history was dead and I never had a good teacher to bring it to life. Once in my freshman V. I. history class, I asked my high school history teacher why the Danish sold the Virgin Islands to the US. They sold three Caribbean islands for 25 million USD, which is not a lot. “What did the Danes get out of the deal, really?” I asked. My teacher responded with a curt, “That’s not going to be on the test, so don’t worry about it!”

This seemed like typical history teacher behavior. I felt their job was to get us through tests, where as science and math teachers were there to help us learn things. In high school I always got the feeling that most history teachers didn’t know much more than what was in the textbook. So, asking them anything too complicated was equivalent to harassment.

I did have some very bad history teachers. But I’m sure even the really good ones must ask themselves what the best way to get students interested in history are. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have found two. My methods would be hard to implement in a classroom setting, unfortunately.

*There was a time when I thought the “H” in the History Channel logo stood for “Hitler” because every other documentary they aired was about World War II. Then they started making really interesting shows like “The Universe” and airing non-World War II documentaries that were just down right fascinating. I would spend many Sunday afternoons watching documentary after documentary. They still have good stuff, but now, I think it’s better to watch their shows online where you can pick out the better shows. Ancient Aliens is entertaining and all, but there are only so many episodes of the show one can watch before it becomes repetitive.

Sometime after my sophomore year in college, I read a book. I liked it, so I read another one; then another one. I had read books before, but they were mostly books assigned to me by teachers or my mother. Once in a while someone would recommend a book to me and I would read it out of obligation. But, in my second year of college I started picking out my own books. I got a library card and I developed a taste for certain genres of literature.

I enjoyed biographies and historical fiction. I would read 3 or 4 books at the same time. There would be a book on CD in my car, a smaller book in my bag, a bigger book at my desk, and a more relaxing book to read before bed. Without realizing it, I began learning about the recent past. I learned about the Nation of Islam through The Autobiography of Malcolm X . I learned about life in China through many Amy Tan books. I learned about escaping a Russian gulag with The Long Walk. (Later I found out that a lot of that story was fabricated when I read Looking for Mr. Smith.)

I chose books because of some curiosity about a time, place, or person in history. Rather than learning about the past through a dry textbook, I saw the past through the eyes of people or characters. I had more of a feel of what life for that person was like. I could almost imagine being there myself and that these stories were distant memories.

After reading a book about one person in a time period and set in a place, I would read about another person in similar circumstances. This gave a more rounded view of events that felt a bit less one-sided than what my high school history classes offered. Take for example the books written about China during Mao’s rule. There are hundreds of them. Reading these biographies gave me more information about that time period than I could ever learn from just lectures. I could pick out any topic I liked and spend years reading up on them.

Traveling also helped me learn about history. Every city has a museum or two telling the stories of its past. But also, you begin to learn what the people who live there have known their whole lives. What is common knowledge about history to, say… a Korean, might be new information to other people who grew up elsewhere. Even if you did know more about the history of Korea, you will get a better hold of a Korean’s perspective after living in or visiting Korea.

Traveling and reading combined have taught me more about history and the world than high school ever did. Traveling to a certain city or town made me more  interested in that place’s history than in the history of areas I had not visited. Would I know as much about feudal Japan as I do if I hadn’t spent 7 years living in Japan? No. Was the Oxford Time series more exciting because I had lived in London once? Yes.

Before going to Cambodia, I knew a little about the genocide. There was an evil man named Pol Pot. He was an agrarian, like Mao, and believed that the country should be run by the peasants. He tried to kill all the intellectuals in the country. There was a ridiculous notion that intellectuals included anyone with glasses, anyone who had ever been outside Cambodia, and basically anyone of convenience.

I was vaguely aware of a place called the killing field. I didn’t know much about it. I just figured that many people died there. “Maybe, there was a mass shooting or something,” is what I thought. I would learn more after my trip to Phnom Penh.

Our first stop was at the Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S21. This used to be Chao Ponhea Yat High School. I walked through the place sadden that they turned a school into a prison of death and torture. The building still held many characteristics of schools in Japan where I taught. It even resembled my own high school in the Virgin Islands a little bit.

As I walked from one room to another, the museum told me stories of individual prisoners held here. None of the stories have happy endings. Almost all the prisoners died horrifically. Many did not die here, this was just where they were held and tortured. There are a few survivors, but they are far from lucky as most of their families did not survive the torture.

They were made to name others and to admit to the most insane things. They were forced to say they worked for the KGB, the CIA, and the Vietnamese all at the same time. The possibility of this would hurt the mind of anyone capable of logical reasoning. Almost no one here was guilty of the crimes they admitted to. No one deserved what happened to them here.

There were some rooms dedicated to the stories of some of the guards. Many of them were prisoners here too. Some were teenagers conscripted in the Khmer Rouge taken from their families who would never hear from them again. They too were forced, not to admit to crimes, but to torture their countrymen. Some of them did not last long as guards and found themselves shackled along side those they had helped torment. Many of the guards ended up with the same fate as most of the prisoners.

Listening to the audio guide that comes with the ticket.

The first thing I learned at the killing field was that there was no one killing field. There are many throughout Cambodia. Many towns and villages had one. There were over 300 killing fields in Cambodia.

The one in Phnom Penh called, Choeung Ek was once an orchard and a cemetery for Cambodians of Chinese ancestry. This was where many of the prisoners from S21 and other prisons around Phnom Penh ended up.

The guards, not wanting the victims to scream or yell, told them that they were being moved to a bigger prison. Some people from nearby villages who were under questioning were told that they were clear, but were being moved to another town for their safety. They were made to dig huge ditches.

At the site, you will see many tourists standing or sitting around the place. They are listening to the audio guide. It tells several stories about witnesses and survivors of the Khmer Rouge. The stories are very immersive and gives you information of the different sections in Choeung Ek. There are areas where visitors are sitting down and crying as they listen to Ros Kosal’s voice. Ros Kosal is himself a survivor of the Khmer Rouge and escaped the killing field. He lends his soothing voice to the audio guide along with others who tell their stories.

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Choeung Ek was discovered to hold more than its expected old Chinese graves. The people were not buried very well and after heavy rain, many of them would surface. It took years to collect all the bodies. There are still more in the fields to this day and remains still get unearth after a hard rain. As I walked along the designated path I saw clothes and bones of victims.

According to Wikipedia, 8,895 people were buried here. They were placed in mass graves that many of them dug themselves before being murdered. They were not shot. That would have cost the government too much money to pay for all the bullets. These people were bludgeoned to death.

The guards used the same tools they had for farming and repeatedly hit the prisoners with them. Shovels, hoes, axes, sometimes even a simple bamboo stick was used. It took a lot of effort and hate for these guards to keep up the killings.

Some guards didn’t have what it took. Their hatred either waned or it was never there to begin with. If a guard was just working here to not become a prisoner himself, his lack of enthusiasm would show and his fellow guards would become suspicious. Sometimes, all it took was for the other guards to dislike a coworker for a guard to be labeled a spy. The guard would be beheaded and tossed in a mass grave dug for treasonous ex-Khmer Rouge.

The Khmer Rouge uniforms for women and men.

The government was so chaotic and so blood thirsty. Many Cambodians did not make it through the 70’s. A quarter of the population died in camps, from starvation, or from sickness because all the doctors were murdered. Being on the side of the Khmer Rouge was no guarantee that your life would be spared.

Unless you were firmly on the top. The head of this whole movement, “Brother Number One”, Pol Pot, never received any form of punishment. “Brother Number Two” a man by the name of Nuon Chea wasn’t held accountable for his actions until 2014. He was placed in jail in 2007 and received life in prison after a trial in 2014 along with Khieu Samphan, another Khmer Rouge official, for crimes committed in the 70’s.

Many of the officials running the S21 prison either received no punishment at all or very late in life. In the 80’s many of the people who had positions of power in the Khmer Rouge held legitimate power in the new government. The Khmer even kept their seat in the UN until 1982, which made it look like the world was okay with what had happened in Cambodia.


Cambodia
(កម្ពុជា)
(Kampuchea)

How to get there:

  • You can enter Cambodia by bus, plane, train, or boat.
  • You will need visa to enter. You can get a visa at the border, get an e-visa, or go to the nearest Cambodian embassy or consulate and get a visa.
    • I got my visa at the border, so I don’t know what advantage an e-visa would give you.
    • The cost of a Cambodian visa at the border or at the airport is 34USD. I know all the websites say 30USD, but it’s actually 34USD.
      • It’s not a scam, because everyone pays 34USD. If it is a scam, it’s a very consistent one.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Fire 118
    • Police 117
    • Medical Help 119

Websites:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • The US dollar is the main, however unofficial, currency.
    • Only paper money; no coins.
    • When getting money from retailers as change, check the bills.
      • Return anything that looks suspicious and ask for a new better looking bill.
      • If you have a suspicious bill, you will be stuck with it. No one will take it from you.
      • Refuse to take anything with rips, writing, or stains.
      • Refuse to take anything that looks fake, even if it’s a one dollar bill.
  • The local currency, the Riel, is used mainly as change less than a dollar.
    • Pay for things in rial, is like paying for things in quarters.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
(សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 11.549347, 104.917658

Address:

  • St 113, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phone:

  • +855 93 388 988

Websites:

Cost:

  • 3 USD
  • 3 USD for an audio guide

Hours:

  • Daily 7:00 – 17:30

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • You can probably meet Chum Mey. He seems to hang out here signing his book and answering questions.
  • Bring lots of water.
  • Check the times for the movies and special lectures for the day.
  • There are a few rooms with some air conditioning.
    • One is a library where you can sit relax and take in all the things you’ve seen.

Choeung Ek Genocidal Center
(Killing Fields Of Pol Pot)
(មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​ប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍​ជើងឯក)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 11.484441, 104.901967
  • You will need to take a tuk-tuk or get a tour bus.
    • The tour bus costs about 10USD per person.
    • The tuk-tuk should cost about 15USD for the ride.
      • 1-4 people can fit in the back of a tuk-tuk.

Address:

  • Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phone:

  • +855 23 305 371

Websites:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • 6USD with audio tour included
  • The tour bus costs about 10USD per person.
  • The tuk-tuk should cost about 15USD for the ride.
    • 1-4 people can fit in the back of a tuk-tuk.

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 17:00 daily

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • The audio tour is very good.
    • You might start crying.
  • There is a museum that your ticket covers. There is air conditioning in the movie room there.

Map:

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