Monday, 22 April 2013

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

First impression: people are honest, very friendly, and speak English! LP says that education is valued and it definitely shows!
I don't want to do anything, and the rain helps. It rains from the bucket non stop for 2 days now. I'm just happy to sit in the nice lounge area in my guesthouse, look at the rain, read a book about Cu Chi tunnels, Cambodia LP and write my blog. I also did 40 minutes of yoga and was very happy with the whole day of doing nothing. On the 3rd day I finally got out at 3pm to see the world beyond my little street. Who knew that just around the corner there is a whole street serving very good street food. I am shocked by the prices in here. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet the prices are similar to Thailand or Vietnam. Lets hope that it's only in the capital that way. I was out for 3 hours, and I've heard at least 100 "tuk-tuk", "tuk-tuk miss", "where you go?", accompanied by frantic hand waving, whistling and hitting objects to attract my attention. Traffic is just as crazy as in Vietnam, and I have no idea how Penny and I will be able to ride motorcycles in here, with these traffic, roads and weather.
Got a Japanese massage from the blind clinic. Blind people are supposed to give the best massages because their senses are heightened  And it was a good massage, better than my foot massage the day before :) Went to watch a documentary movie about the Khmer Rouge regime, but didn't understand much ... need to find something that will explain it to me in a greater detail. For that reason I bought a book "First they killed my father", but it's lying in the guest house, I'm looking at it, and can't get the courage to finally pick it up.
I'm feeling very down these past few days, but today I'm the most grumpy and irritated as ever! 100s of "tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk!" don't help even a bit. Went to a national museum which is ok. It contains 100s of very beautifully carved statues, most of them from the Angkor wat, so this museum is very skip-able as I'll be at the wats anyway. Then I went to a Palace that has a silver pagoda. Again, it's ok, and gave me something to do during the day, but after Bangkok's royal palace, this is nothing ... I think I'm getting spoiled! :) There is actually not that much to see in Cambodia as the Khmer Rouge regime destroyed almost everything.
Went to a shopping mall with a hope of finding capri pants. I think they went out of style since I can't find them anywhere, not in markets, not in malls. Wanted to see a movie, well, more to have popcorn, and this mall has the best movie cinema in Cambodia. Didn't see anything because all movies were either horror or violence movies :(
Got tired of being in a bad mood, and since Penny might be arriving tomorrow, I need to snap out of it. Cause fine if it's just me, but I don't want to reflect my mood on anybody else, unless it's energetic, positive and cheerful! Internet was working well in the room, and I brainwashed myself with motivational phrases and youtube videos. Did some yoga, and some empowering guided meditation before going to sleep and I woke up early in the morning, happy and cheerful! :)
I'm tired of walking in the streets, more so to cross the streets which every time seems like a suicide mission, and took motorcycle taxis everywhere. 1st went to the central market. In there had the best mango/passion fruit fruit shake EVER! Then I had market food which is always an experience of pretty much pointing to whatever someone else is eating and digging into the unknown. Next was the Russian market so called because earlier in the days Russians used to shop here. Along the regular assortment of $2 products for which you'd pay $20 in Canada, there are also brand name items, Gap, Levi's, Nike, Adidas for 10% of the price. Of course one never knows the ethnicity of these items. From my experience though, who cares if they're original or not, as long as they're done well. I bought 2 Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts in Ecuador for $4, 2 years later after very extensive use and after the beatings of India, they're still in my suitcase making me happy :)
In the guesthouse I'm practicing pool, and after a few games with an imaginary partner, I'm becoming pretty good :) So good, that I actually beat someone who was reaaaaaly good! ... and not imaginary :)
I've played a few games with Jonathan who also stays in the guesthouse. Jonathan is a ex soldier, and of course after I heard that, I gave him a lecture about what I think of army. He surprisingly agrees with me on everything! But when he signed up, he was 18 and didn't know any better. I told him how the US army treats soldiers as guinea pigs by testing vaccines on them, and he said yeah, his friend went blind after one vaccine. He was discharged and given life time disability payments of $1400/month.
He got stopped by a policeman for an "illegal" left turn. Trust me if you saw the traffic in here, you'd know that there is nothing illegal about doing anything! Bikes drive pretty fast on pavements, in the wrong direction, speed past red lights, especially big cars (the bigger the car, the more money, the more you don't have to give a shit about anybody else). It's crazy in here! He started with a $40 "fine". Jonathan negotiated it down to $10. I told him that if he was reading lonely planet, he wouldn't pay more than a dollar or two. They can charge foreigners with having the lights on during the day, when they don't stop Cambodians who go with the lights off during the night! After Jonathan gave him $10, the police thanked him!
This is kinda a personal issue, but I'm so excited that I just have to write about it. For all my adult life I've suffered from terrible and the most painful pms pain ever! I think it's genetic. If I don't take 2 extra strong pain killers in time, the pain is definitely killing me. I'm white, I can't breath, I can't move, and once the pain has started, I need to take 3 or 4 extra strong pills, lying paralyzed for hours waiting for the pills to kick in. In these cases, not only I'm trying to tolerate the pain, but also the nausea caused by the pills. As you probably guess, I'm against pills. When I have a flu, I heal myself with positive thoughts, if that doesn't help (which in 80% it does!), I eat garlic, honey, and propolis. I didn't do reiki in a while, and I thought to practice it. Taking a huge risk, cause if that won't work, I'll be in unbearable pain for hours. I did 10 minute reiki before I went to sleep, and 10 minutes when I woke up (just in case). There is no pain. I'm feeling excellent, full of energy, I'm even not pale ... awweeeeesome!!! :))
Had the best cheese cake! Yuuuuuuuum!
Penny came from Saigon and we went to the S21 museum and the killing fields. Between 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge (the communist party) came to power. The leader Pol Pot had an absurd idea of making Cambodia communist with only one class of people and making Cambodia self sufficient country far away from American influences. He went to villages whose people he considered to be pure, talked to the poor and uneducated youth, and said that the reason they're poor (at that time 80% of Cambodia was in extreme poverty) is because the evil cities and it's residents. He made an army out of these villagers  and arrived in trucks to all the cities evacuating them in hours. When they arrived, they said that the cities need to be left for 3 days because the Americans are coming to bomb it. Everybody had to leave, the elderly and patients in the hospitals, people who refused to leave were shot on the spot. People walked for days into villages. On the way there were checks. They asked all the politicians, intellectuals, teachers, people who wore glasses, whose hands were too soft, who is too white, who spoke foreign languages, to sign up for jobs, those people were taken to the fields and got executed. So it's very interesting that people are not scared to get educated right now after such a recent and dark past. City people didn't know how to farm and thousands died from starvation. Families were separated, husbands, wives, children, all were separate and sent to different villages. Pol Pot wanted to triple the rice production immediately. This was an impossible task, with people working from dusk well into the night without barely any food. Innocent people who were thought to resist the communist regime were sent to prisons where they were tortured and later killed. Everybody who was sent to prison was tortured and killed. S21 museum, a former school converted into prison shows pictures of 20,000 people who were held in it, with photographs of arrival and after torture. No one talked in that "museum", and most tourists wore sunglasses to hide their tears. People were told to admit to things which they never did, even to admit that they work for CIA or KGB, they had to admit to their crimes on tape, and even said that their families and friends are involved. The tapes were sent to the center, and the command came for their execution. They were transported by trucks to the killing fields. In there they put them in the shed, played loud communist music to cover the screams of the people who were being killed. Bullets were expensive. The prisoners knelt on their knees near the mass graves and were bitten in the neck with bamboo sticks, axes, their throats were cut with palm leaves, and were pushed into the graves. They put DDT on the bodies to prevent the stench and to finish the job in case the people were still being alive in the graves. Pol Pot's theory was "It's better to kill and innocent person than to spare an enemy". They killed young children too. They held them by the feet and smashed their heads against the tree. The mass grave for the children was found later on because there was hair and brain tissue stuck to the tree. 4 years later Vietnamese came in to save the country. Vietnamese were the only ones who came for help. The country that was still struggling after it's own war. It was the only country that sent food into Cambodia. My question is, where was the UN? Where was the US who is so against communism, who fought in Vietnam because of it? In 4 years 3 million people have died. 3 million out of 8. Cambodians killed by their own people. Pol Pot died peacefully in his house at the age of 82, 4 other high ranking officials are only now being charged. It's hard for me to imagine how people let that happen to themselves. I know that guns are scary, but if you get organised you can defeat them. They are only thousands, you are millions. History repeats itself again and again, and people still think they have a chance. There is a saying that you can change your future by learning your past, but people don't learn. What happened with the 9/11. They didn't have any bombs or guns or even proper knives. They were 300 passengers and 4 terrorists. How did it happen?? - killing fields - Cambodia - year 0


  1. horrible chto ludi delaut. hotela tebe skazat naschot pms :-) u menya posle rodov vso proshlo! so maybe it will work for you as well ....

  2. I guess that's a risk you take when you travel. You see amazing things and have your eyes open to both the best humans have to offer, and also the worst. I had a similar experience when I visited an old concentration camp in Germany.

    Why did you stop the reiki, you were absolutely sold on it in India. I hardly take any pills at all after your influence.