E-Travels With E.Trules.....whoa! cambodia, S.E. Asia Travelogue, Malaysia, Scandinavia














whoa! cambodia














5/15/2000


compadres--


thanks for your colorful responses. i'll see if i can answer some of your more pressing concerns along the road to --- cambodia.


just arrived in phnom penh, captital of the country. definitely third (or fourth) world - but still reeking of french provincialism, at least along the mekong river where el mario and i are staying for 20 bucks a night with a 5th floor window view, air con, tv, and a phone. in other words - the place is poor - where a dollar can buy you an hour "moto" ride - or half a deliciously authentic cambodian meal of fried noodles, freshly-cooked vegetables, and beef. where roads are paved in only the most developed places, where land mines and khmer rouge rebels are still loose in the countryside, and where people are barely a year out of a genocidal war that has robbed them of children and family and sanity and stability - for the last generations and decades in their memory.


we just got back from a place called siem reap, probably only 70 miles east of the civilized thai border where we had taken an air conditoned mini bus for 4 hours from bangok to poi pet. (notice i keep mentioneing air conditioning? guess why?) the roads were well marked, the countryside green and wet, the roadside full of fruit and vegetable stands selling exotic looking things called MANGOSTEEN and DURION (strange, stinky, spikey, but delicious), and lots of other things i couldn't identify.







but once at the border - wow! like a cecil b. de mille or d.w. griffith movie called IMMIGRATION. utter choreographed chaos. thousands of people swarming about, like ants in every different direction, carts piled 4 stories high with cambodian-made clothes to sell in thailand. hundreds of vendors, hustlers, beggars, taxis, motos, border crossers. lines for visas, passports, health documents, quarantines. which country have you come from? what diseases do you have? how long will be staying? at which point will you exit?


then a 10 hour ride through cambodian jungle and countryside in an open flat bed pickup truck - on which i bribed (paid) myself a way into the once-again air con cab, while heroic mario got crunched together with 8 other thick-skinned backpackers - all sitting on top of their luggage -getting tossed, spattered w/ mud, rained on, and insect bitten - as we catapulted, turned, twisted, jerked, crawled and stalled our way over what could only be called - quite generously - a semblance of a road. just eye-opening and shockingly beuatiful -- straw huts on stilts, naked children, bridges barely held together with chicken wire and precariously broken wooden planks, a khmer rouge dude carried out with a bleeding head wound. very -- colorful -- to say the least. there was not one american "tourist" on the ride. just a bunch of young alternative kids and 2 50 year old hippies trying to swim their way to cambodia.






stayed there 2 full days - going out to angor wat, the hindu and buddhist temples and city considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. built by the cambidian "khmer" culture of the 10-14th century. like the pyramids at giza. or teotihuacan in mexico city. architectural genius combined with centuries of slave labor and the egomania of a royal dynasty and civilization bent on immortality.


spent the nights in the cambodian discos and happy herb's - having "happy" pizza. cambodian people - sweet, soft, poor, hungry, feeding on the newly-arriving tourism for survival like flies. sad, desperate, necessay. this place soon to be the next backpackers' and alternative katmandu (if and when they fix that road).


today, we took the boat down the mekong river - like a scene out of apocalypse now (sorry for all the movie references, what else does this draft-free, american city boy know?)- before the violence and boredom, looking for kurtz - on our way to phnom penh - again living/looking at a way of life untouched by the centuries. el mario and i - cambodian boat people - getting rained on by the warm morning monsoon for 2 hours straight - up on the roof of the boat -- like the disney mekong delta ride for disney asia 2010, but without the safety, sterilization, or disney characters. not your standard e-ticket folks, but highly recommended. and sorry you LA fisher-folk, no trout in the mekong.


okay, my internet cafe's budget quota is up.


thinking of my mom on mother's day--


see you in vietnam--


love,


angor tom







HOME