Genocide and girls

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today was an early bus trip into the capital city of Phnom Penh.  Hello city life.  My oh my.  Talk about bustling life.  We think of New York City as being so busy and hectic, but I think those people coming from cities such as these would find New York City slightly too organized and boring.  I mean, where is the excitement when you actually have traffic lights and regulations?  It seems odd that a city call actually function without any road rules.  However, I do have to say that I was in a tuk-tuk today and we were hit by a Camry in an intersection...tried to jack-knife us.  It was not really a big accident, really no damage, but still, when you're in an open air trike and you see a full size car literally hitting's odd.  Yea, exciting times.

Other exciting times is that by sheer luck and crazy timing, my Vancouver friend Brian was at the Khmer Rouge genocide museum at the same time as me and spotted me there.  What are the chances?!  We hung out for the rest of the afternoon with his new friends he met at his guesthouse.  Then, we headed back to my guesthouse because there was a rooftop bar and because I didn't want to walk alone at night (aren't you proud of me guys??!!).  On the way, he gets the great idea to check into these very odd, flashy bars/clubs.  The sex industry is really overt here.  It is not uncommon to see older Western men with very young, pretty girls.  We literally walk into a bar called 'Secret Bar' and are met with a sight I've never seen.  Lined up on the wall, all sitting on high bar chairs are dressed up, young girls....waiting.  Holy sh**!  Did we turn and leave immediately?  Nope, we didn't.  We had a beer and waited to see what would happen.  We were not disappointed when 3 older, skeezy Western men walk in.  Immediately, one of the guys walks up to a girl and grabs here arms and then pushes up her skirt a bit.  Yep, you read right.  Talk about major creeps.   A first hand look at the underbelly, except this was the high end, clean belly of the industry. 

Speaking of clean bellys, turns out that I met friends on the bus and bus station.  I know, I know, shocked.  Three Aussie girls.  I proposed we share a tuk-tuk and look for a guesthouse together.  They proposed we split a room.  So, here I am, typing this in a room with three new strangers, one of which I get to share a bed.  lol.  One thing that is predicatable is the unpredictability of everything.  Did I envision myself meeting a band of gals and then sharing a room?  Nope.  But, $5 sure sounds better than $20.  Phnom Penh is a bit more pricey than the other towns.  A single room for example typically runs $15...for very basic.  Ah, good times.

The genocide museum was exactly as you'd suspect, although, I think because I had prepared myself mentally, it was not as devastating as I had feared.  The pictures are obviously very disturbing.  Staring too long at the portraits (every person brought to this location which was a high school, was photographed) is difficult as the eyes seem to stare right back at you, hauntingly.  What was more impactful was the story that our tuk-tuk driver told us over dinner.  He took us to a cheap place to eat and he ate with us.  I asked him whether he had visited the museum himself and if his family had been affected by the Khmer Rouge.  He said, "Of course".  His grandfather took too much rice to feed his family and the Khmer Rouge took him to his house where they took a palm frond and repeatedly sliced his throat until he died, in front of his wife.  Then, their children (this guys' father) were cooks for the Khmer Rouge, serving a purpose so they wouldn't die as well.  Now that is some good dinner conversation let me tell you.  Whew.  Just crazy.  And now, the Cambodians really have no idea who and how people were involved in the Khmer Rouge.  Participants either vanished into the jungle or removed their garb and assimilated back into the culture.  It's not like there were many people left alive that would remember who was who.   Very disturbing. 

Tomorrow the killing fields and a departure for my new friends...and who knows what else?!
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