Thursday, August 24, 2006


Phnom Penh

Spent a couple of days in Phnom Penh in the "OKAY" guesthouse...which is surprisingly better than okay - its actually fairly good!
First 2 nights were in a dorm, but i was the only one in the dorm, and it only cost me US$1 a night. I hung out with an ozzie (Justin) and a Canadian (called Gunner(!)). We hired a tuktuk driver for $7, and spent our first day going to the Killing Fields, and the Tuol Sleng prison - both very full on places. Oh, we also stopped off at the shooting gallery on the way home. Im not quite sure why the tour involves shooting a machine-gun after spending the whole day learning about the futility of war etc, but thats Cambodia for you.

Basically, the killing fields is where a shitload of ppl went to get killed n buried in Phnom Penh. Theres a huge tower full of skulls that u can see, and when u walk around, u see all these big holes which are mass graves. U can even see bits of bones sticking out of the ground, as they havent bothered excavating all the graves properly.

Cambodian History 101: The Tuol Sleng prison (also called S-21) is an old school which was turned into an interogation facility and prison. All this happened from 1976 to 1979 when the Khmer Rouge came into power. Anyone considered educated, foreign, or corrupted by outside forces or influences (ie anyone the Khmer Rouge considered a threat) was generally killed. Sometimes they were used as slave labour and would die of starvation, other times they were sent to be interogated or just plain killed. Anyone speaking out against the government suffered a similar fate. Even ppl wearing glasses were shot, coz they were considered more intelligent than regular people, or something....The main leader was known as Pol Pot - unfortunately, he wasnt the laidback cool hippy that his name would imply.
Overall, it is believed that between 1.5 and 3 million people were killed under the Khmer Rouge government.
Of course, why re-write history whe I can just give u a link to wiki.

The Killing Fields

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The Shooting Range

So anyway, after a very moving afternoon that left as all quiet, contemplative and sad, our tuktuk driver took us to a shooting range. They have a very matter-of-fact menu, showing u the prices to use various weapons. After alot of umming and erring (i didnt really want to fire any weapons after seeing the above places)I went the AK47-Kalashnikov. It was US$15 for 12 rounds, and entitled me to take some photos. If had chosen however, I could have gone for a much bigger gun (M61 machine gun etc), or a grenade ($30), or even a rocket-launcher for $200. Not sure what u aim at, but in the past it used to be a LIVE cow. Ive heard animal rights activists have since stopped that, and u can now only fire at non-holy animals, such as pigs (i didnt confirm with the dude running the shop however). Not much to say, other than these guns are REALLY loud, and its something I only ever plan on doing once in my life. Photos turned out well though!

Thats (ozzie) Jason on the left with an AK47, and my tuktuk driver Joe in the middle with the tommy gun. Ive got the stupid American M16.
NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez
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