From Sad to Exhillarating
Having been aware of the Pol Pot regime, and the world's reluctance to step into yet another war, I knew if I ever planted my feet in Cambodia, I would visit both S21, and the Killing Fields. S21, the former public school in Phnom Penh made me feel so sad, hopeless, helpless and angry. Walking through the rooms, seeing the implements of torture, the holding area where people were held, starved, interrogated, tortured, and died. The room with pictures and stories of the disappeard, including foreigners, will tear your guts out. Reading the posted rules of the camp reduced me to tears.
When it is coupled with the pyramid of bones and clothing at the Killing Fields it will haunt you, gnawing at your soul when the full impact of the atrocities impacts with your consciousness. I could imagine the screams, the tears, the blood and guts with a realism that does not disappear with time.
The Temples of Angkor, I was intrigued by the story of a man stumbling into the ruins sometime in the 1800's. From pictures, I found them amazing, the architecture, the size, three days is not enough to truly appreciate them. They were magnificent, the fusion of Indian rule is so evident.
Battambang, and the bamboo train. The train is no more than a mattress sized piece of bamboo set on top of two sets of old train wheels, and a little fly motor at
the back. As you proceed down the track, the train with the least cargo stops for the oncoming train, passengers disembark, the mattress is lifted off, train wheels set to the side of the track, and the opposite train moves forward, then stops. The driver of that train helps your driver reassemble the wheels, mattress and off you go. The tracks are jagged and twisted, but I had so much fun, I returned for another ride the next day. Rumour has it that Australia will be rebuilding the war torn railroad, so the bamboo train may become a thing of the past.
The hot air balloon at Angkor. It was something new, anchored to the ground, cost $15. for 15 to 20 minutes. The view was breath taking and although it was a short trip, I felt it was worth the money, and fun.
Angkor Palm Restaurant. I genuinely loved all my Cambodian food expereinces, but at Angkor Palm, I took a cooking course. It was inexpensive, I was able to meet new friends while learing how to cook, best part, we gathered in the dining room to eat all the dishes we prepared.
Adopting my tuc tuc driver and his family, knowing my small monthly contribution can add chicken to the diet, his wife and children will be healthier, perhaps live longer than the estimated 50 plus years. Best thing, they receive all the money I wire over, no middle man.