Roasting in the sun
17.11.2007 - 23.11.2007 30 °C
Not a lot has happened since I last wrote, but I've got nothing but time so I thought I'd write another.
I spent five days in Phnom Penh, which was far too much, but my Vietnamese visa was delayed so I had to wait. Not a big deal, although I did have trouble meeting people there. I find the big cities are the hardest to meet people, whereas in a little town there's almost always a few other people searching for a fresh face to talk to. The absolute best place I've found to meet people is on the bus. It's near impossible not to talk to someone on a bumpy ten hour bus ride, and by the time you get off everyone just wants to find a room, so they stick together and end up going for dinner and drinks later. Anyways, I stayed at Smile Guesthouse in Phnom Penh, which looks out onto Boeng Kak Lake (I think that's right):
The view from the guesthouse patio at night.
With five days, I had a lot of time in Phnom Penh to see the sights. I went to the Tuol Sleng prison, which was the school that was turned into a torture center called S-21 during the Khmer Rouge genocide in the late 70's. It was very interesting and very gruesome. In one of the buildings, each room had a single wire bed, where victims were interrogated and eventually starved and murdered. A large black and white photo hangs on the wall of each room showing the corpse that was found on the bed. Pretty disturbing stuff. Other buildings had been divided into tiny cells where prisoners were kept, complete with barbed wire on the outside to prevent prisoners from escaping. The Khmer Rouge had taken mugshots of the prisoners (men, women, children and even infants), which were all displayed in another building. Over 13 000 people were killed here. I also went to the Killing Fields, which was essentially where they took other prisoners to be exterminated. Mass graves have been unearthed containing over 8 000 bodies, and some graves have been left untouched. There is a large memorial stupa that houses all the skulls and clothing of the executed; a not-so-subtle reminder of something that happened only 30 years ago. Almost two million Cambodians were killed.
So after the heavy sites in Phnom Penh, I was glad to be heading to a beach to relax. Sihanoukville is on the south coast of Cambodia, and is home to about five beaches and a thriving tourist scene. Almost too thriving, really, it's packed. I happened to arrive on the same weekend as the Khmer Water Festival, one of the few Cambodian holidays, so there were almost no rooms available and the rooms that were available were double in price. I was lucky to find a little bungalow for $4, although it has a thatched roof (unsealed, hope it doesn't rain) and no proper sink, just a tap and a drain. But hey, I won't be spending much time in there anyway, so it's no big deal.
Last night I took a stroll down Serendipity Beach, the main backpacker's hangout. It's lined with bars spilling right out onto the beach, and it's very relaxing. There are fire jugglers every few hundred metres, and one of them started up right in front of me. Here's a pic:
Today I took a moto taxi to Otres Beach, about 5km southeast of Serendipity Beach. It's still quite busy, but much more peaceful. I did well to start getting rid of my tshirt tan, but it'll take a few more days. Tough life. Here's the sunset:
I know I post a lot of sunset pictures, but I can't help it.
And for all you whiners who keep badgering me to post a picture of myself, here you go:
My hair is long.
I am officially halfway through my trip! Time is going by incredibly fast and I don't want it to end, although I miss Vancouver terribly. Too bad about the Lions, but it's nice to see the Canucks kicking some ass in the division. Until next time ..