Where's Tai?

"And I still haven't found what I'm looking for"

Cambodia: Water people, temples and gangsters June 3, 2010

Filed under: Travelling — Tai @ 5:45 am

One of the nicest people you will ever meet.

That is why it is hard to understand the atrocities that happened in that country.  Pol Pot died in 1998 (not long ago), but he killed 1.5 to 3 million people.  Massacred, tortured and starved.  He wanted to make the farmers the ruling class and so city dwellers were evacuated from their homes. Sent to work in the field.  If they were educated they were ostracized, ending in millions starving in the countryside or forced to dig their own graves and then get beaten to death (because they were considered not worthy of a bullet).  Sadly, I guess one man can make a difference.

I went down to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat.  Angkor Wat is actually only one of a massive collection of temples spread across 1000 square miles.   You drive from one temple to another by taxi, tuktuk or on a bike.  The temples were great, but after 10 temples you get a little “templed out”.  I got a guide and tuktuk and crammed a 2 day tour into 5 hours.  Too many kings and queen with long names and nefarious pasts all started to run into each other.

Took an unplanned swim in in the morning.

Was taking some great shots of these monks working in the forest next to Angkor Wat and ended up on my arse in the middle of a puddle with my camera.   The young monks were chopping wood and loading a trailer.  They were young kids.  They lived in a monastery just next to the main temples.

I saw a mass of temples but they all started to blur into the other.  I was just enjoying seeing the locals.

My guide was the most interesting part.  Local guy who had a shady background but was looking to go straight.  He use to be a gangster, he held the gun for his gang.  So when trouble happened he got called in to wave the gun around.  He was actually a very nice guy and had only shot one guy, and only in the leg (which made me feel much better).

He said it was hard to find a woman because you had to have lots of money in Cambodia to buy them a house and clothes or they wouldn’t talk to you.  (Guess some things are the same the world over, just the price differs!).

After cruising around temples for the day, he invited me to go out for a drink.  We went into the middle of this local neighbourhood.  I was shouting, so he invited his brother around too.  For US$18 we all got very drunk and fill.  We ended up at a local nightclub.  The music was really good R&B and hip hop and at 6 foot I was the tallest guy there.

Next day he took me to another temple out of town.  And then as an afterthought I went to Tonle Sap Lake. Have to say it was a great experience.
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People live off shore in small boats. Large families.  There are Vietnamese communities that live there as well.  All for fishing.  These little kids paddle around in large tin buckets waving snakes they have caught, so you’ll take pictures.

Also went to the land mine museum.  A guy who was a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge and later the Vietnamese has dedicated his life to removing mines from Cambodia.  All quite sad.

The great thing is that their problem is multinational. (That’s sarcasm!!)  They have land mines from USA, Russian, China, France and UK planted all over Cambodia.  (Way to screw with a third world country).  Suppose to be 6 million more planted around the countryside.  You do see a lot of  amputees wandering the street.

However, the cool thing is that the people are similar to the Thais and Filipinos (happy people) but even more humble and shy.

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