Xin chào các bạn (hello friends in Vietnamese),
Nancy, 13 friends, our guide the Phenomenal Phong and I are on our way to the city of Siem Riep in NW Cambodia. This is the jump off site to Templeland (as Disney would call it if they owned it), the location of Angkor Wat and many other temples. We are on a 6-7 hour private bus ride.
I stress the private bus as opposed to the public one we took from Sai Gon to PP for a reason. The bus itself was fine as were our fellow travelers. None of my hoped for chickens and goats clucking and bleeting that we know from the always accurate Hollywood depictions.
We stopped a few times for the border crossing, lunch, happy room and refreshments. Lots of scenery, traffic and amazing hubbub along the way. Photo ops galore as you see.
However, what made the ride most memorable for us was the almost 7.5 hours constant, incessant, continuous, never ending, always on (have I made my point?) blaring of the world’s loudest and most unnecessary horn. O M B! Matt in our group was ready to commit chauffeurcide!
It would have been ok if there was a reason for it but none we could see and we sat up front. It is possible the driver was deaf and had a twitchy thumb sitting on the resistanceless horn button. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as I am in my forgiveness mode since we are driving through countryside dotted with Pagodas (Phong has told us Hindus have temples and Buddhists have pagodas). Ommmmm…
PP was not at all what I expected. It is a large, thriving, bustling and growing city. Full of scooters of course and drivers who make up their own rules, just like in neighboring Vietnam. “Roads, where we are going, we don’t need roads.” Sidewalks work juuuuust fine. Pedestrians should walk in the street where it is safe, silly people.
Our first evening we did a pedicab tour and then a terrific dinner. I had the local favorite Beef Lok Lat at the and it was delish. Served with a passionfruit mojito- yummy. Nancy had a spicy yellow curry w French (they used to hang out here too) wine.
Yesterday was a gut wrenching day. First off was a visit to Tuol Sieng Museum (aka S23). This used to be a high school that was converted by Khmer Rouge into a detention /torture center. Just awful. We met one of only 7 survivors from the prison. This place is in the heart of town and you think the screams would cause some problems with the local population. Perhaps they would have but the entire city of PP was forced out into the countryside to perform backbreaking manual labor so the constant screams and moans of the shackled prisoners went virtually unheard by anyone who MIGHT have been able to help them.
If that wasn’t enough, our next stop was Choeung Ex Killing Field Memorial. This is where the prisoners from S23 were taken for execution. Even worse than the prison. Again, the sounds had to be mitigated so the authorities installed huge loudspeakers and played music to cover the noise of their atrocities.
Nancy took no photos there because she knows the images of that horrible place will be forever in her memory.
<I lived in LA during the Rodney King riots. A lot of people criticized and ridiculed him for asking ‘why can’t we all just get along? ‘ I have always agreed with that question. More so when I see places like we have seen in the last several days. >
Lunch was at another riverside local restaurant in PP. I finally ate frog. Tasty and better than chicken. Nancy had sautéed eggplant with tofu.
We went to the Royal Palace with fellow G Adventurers Dan, Heaven, Holly and Allan. Paid for Guide who showed us around. It seems the current king is gay. He is 64, childless and wifeless but has not come out. The official story is he is living as a monk. Imagine the good he could do if he came out. He does have a nice “house” so he would be a good catch!
We went to central market after to see what was for sale. The answer is EVERYTHING!
Dinner on a riverboat (upper deck) and we cruised down the Mekong River and back. Fun. Bit of a breeze which is nice since the conditions are h&h here. It was a bit dodgy getting on and off the boat. The gangplank was pretty flimsy, the angle was steep but the pièce de rèsistance was the hand rail. This was held top and bottom of the plank by two ladies on their shoulders!!!
After, we all enjoyed drinks on the rooftop of the FCC – Foreign Corespondents Club which was a hub of activity buzzing with CIA, KGB and other letters before, during and after the war. We know a former CIA dude who was here, we will have to ask when we get home.
Now this morning (Tuesday for us) we walked to a French patisserie for breakfast
and then boarded the aforementioned private bus to Siem Riep and you are now caught up. Except for a mention of the stop we just had at the bug market.
So, faithful reader, we hope you have been enjoying our trip with us. Please feel free to drop us a note or question.
gặp lại sau
Nancy and Chris