Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Frogs and Grasshoppers in Cambodia

After saying goodbye to Allen and Isabelle and the kids, I had booked a flight with the relatively cheap Air Asia and was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Phonm Penh, Cambodia. Budget airlines like Air Asia make getting around this region cheap and easy, if you have more money than time.

I arrived to the capital of Phonm Penh during a rain and thunderstorm, which are all the more prevelant as we are approaching the wet season. I stayed here with a couchsurfer named Patrick, and his roommate Brendan. A few days spent here in the capital city with their friends and seeing the sights. One of which being the Tuol Sleng Musuem.
First of all, ignorance is not bliss in this case. Maybe you have or maybe you haven't heard of the Khmer Rouge, I know it's possible some of my generation hasn't, but you really need to inform yourself here on the not-too-long ago past of Cambodia. Search Khmer Rouge or Pol Pot Regime.
The history of the Khmer Rouge plays a major part in what a traveler would do go and see in Cambodia. For example, the Toul Sleng Musuem is acutally a former prison. This is where the brutal Khmer Rouge, S-21 section, tortured and killed thousands and thousands of Cambodian people. It was an eerie place to go and witness the torture chambers, prison chambers, and torturing equipment. I can't explain too well the feeling you get when going to this kind of place, but I did ask myself, "Is it even possible for human beings to do this to eachother, and for what?"
During the Khmer Rouge it is approximated that the genocide commited under the nasty Pol Pot killed about 2 million Cambodians.  Approximately 50% of the Cambodian population is under 25 (the people born young or after the Pol Pot regime).
But, from what I've seen, the Cambodian people stand strong and have plenty of smiles to give.

With my two couchsurfing hosts Patrick and Brendan, we decided to leave for the weekend and head toward the coast of Cambodia. We went to Kampot (which I revisited because I like it so much) town. It is laid back town on an river estuarary near the ocean. We did the trip with their motorbikes, and it was definitely a fun time. We revisited some of Patrick's old fav's since he used to work in this town, went for a swim, played mini golf etc... and also headed to some caves in the nearby mountains. The landscape there is quite gorgeous! Also this town is famous for it's PEPPER! It is supposedly world class, and it does taste amazingly good!

After Kampot and Phonm Penh, I headed east to Kratie. Kratie lies on the might Mekong river, which every time I see that river on this trip, I'm still amazed at how beautiful and massive it is. I headed here for a particular reason, I wanted to see the Irrawaddy fresh water dolphins that inhabit the Mekong river in these parts. Some of you may remember my story of the pink fresh water dolphins in the Amazon, and this is a similar experience, except that the dolphins aren't pink, but you get the sense that it is somewhat wrong. You are 100's of miles from the see and you are surrounded by tons of dolphins in the river. I still think it is just so cool!! :-)

As for Cambodian cuisine, it isn't too spicy, they love soup here, and it is good. But Cambodians differ a bit from their neighbours because they find nothing wrong in eating things that we would consider weird. Any time you ride on the bus and you stop at the restaurants for a bathroom or food break, there is undoubtedly the lady there selling the Cambodian bus-snack favorite, grasshoppers. I tried them, they are actually quite good!!!

Cambodia continues...

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