Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
284Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
I can't say I was particularly excited about visiting a shooting range but Dave seemed really up for it. I was thinking more about my wallet and only went for the AK-47, still very steep at $30 for 25 bullets! Dave went for a tommy gun and hand grenade at $60. I had heard loads of rumours before about them giving you the option of shooting at cows and chickens but thankfully this was more professional and it had a proper range with targets.
I was up first and I was bricking it! Sparks flying everywhere as I pulled the trigger and the recoil was far stronger than I had expected. Wasn't really sure if my aim was any good either as the target was miles away. When they flicked it to auto it was over in seconds and I was very relieved, and covered in grease all over my face.
The Dave was up with the tommy gun. His aim seemed just as bad as mine but at least when his was on auto it didn't keep getting jammed like mine did. I was seriously glad they had proper ear defenders and not Sony headphones with the cord cut off like at Cu Chi!
After that we headed outside so Dave could throw his grenade. he was terrified, as would I be, but they told him everything he needed to do. He was to throw the grenade into a pond and had to get it just right or it would explode too close to the surface. A few practice goes with a stone before he was away. As soon as he released the grenade from his grip it made a popping sound which we didn't expect so I was glad when it disappeared under the water. The bang was pretty tame to be honest. I had expected a huge column of water to rise from the surface but all there was was a small trickle of bubbles and a bit of a bang. Dave seemed happy enough, I was happier that the ducks on the surface all survived unscathed!
Collected our targets and we both sucked. Neither of us hit the circle target once although my target was mortally wounded in the stomach and took a shot through the eye. After posing for a few obligatory photos we were off for a dose of reality at the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek.
During 1975-1978, 17000 detainees from S-21 were transported here to be exterminated and buried in mass graves. On entering the field you are met with the Memorial Stupa containing 8000 skulls from the graves, sorted into categories by age and sex. Its incredibly spooky to be looking at the skulls of people who were killed for no reason at all but it has to be presented in this way to really hit the point home and serve as a powerful reminder of one of the most brutal regimes of all time.
Walking round the graves was an incredibly sobering experience. There were about 30 graves with signs displaying how many people were found in each one. Some of the graves were so tiny it was had to fathom how they managed to get so many bodies inside. Looking at the graves closely you can still see bone fragments and bits of clothing protruding through the surface which was pretty horrific, as was the way in which they were killed. Most were bludgeoned to death with bits of wood or any other equipment they could get their hands on rather than waste precious bullets.
We had seen a pretty god net cafe in town so headed there for a few hours and managed to avoid the dogs on the way there. After about 4 hours I was pretty much ready to go when I spied the person opposite waving in my direction. Took me a few seconds to realise it was Julia who I hadn't seen since Chengdu so I was more than a little shocked but happy to see her. Apparently she had heard someone talking on the phone and decided to be nosy and see who it was!
She was meeting up with her travelling friends, Jasmine (who was also in Chengdu) and Antonia, for dinner nearby and invited us to tag along. Had a great time catching up with what they had been up to in the last 6 weeks. Seems they took Vietnam a lot slower than us as thats the only country they had been since China but it sounds like they loved it there. I might have liked it more if it didn't piss down everyday!
Seeing as the fear of canines was getting worse and they were staying by the lake, I wanted to check it out in case I end up back in Phnom Penh. The lake area was far better and like a backpackers mecca. Far cheaper than by the river and I didn't see a single dog! Result!
Sat around on the deck over the river drinking a few beer Laos before heading back to the ghetto by tuk-tuk. Should meet up with them again in Thailand in a couple of weeks.