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The Cambodian Sojourn, Part 3

October 10, 2008

The human mind is a powerful tool and weapon; therefore, it is imperative that the number of people misusing it be kept to a minimum. There is only a thin, faint line between a genius and a dictator.

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Wednesday morning, third day of the Cambodian trip; a fine, sunny 1st October. We didn’t head off to the orphanage immediately, but there was a tour of the city at that time.

First Stop: The Royal Family’s Palace (I forgot the name :P)

The front door.

The front door.

Inside, there were more buildings.

Inside, there were more buildings.

Apparently, the Palace is now in disuse and part of history, but in its heyday it must have been one heck of a busy place in the city.

One of the statues that lined the entrance.

One of the statues that lined the entrance.

Some had missing arms though, a fine example would be a statue of the first king. Er… name, name…

Said statue.

Said statue.

The way the arms were missing though, it looks almost too clean to be an accidental break…

P

Another royal building. The one for banquets and celebratory functions... was behind, so it's not in this picture. πŸ˜›

Apparently the French left a good impression on the Cambodians, since you can clearly see the influence.

Apparently the French left a good impression on the Cambodians, since you can clearly see the influence.

They had a small building displaying various royal items from the past; the one below really caught my eye.

One color for one day of the week. No, really!

One color for one day of the week. No, really!

Apparently Lady Vashj is quite popular over there.

Apparently Lady Vashj is quite popular over there.

They’re called “Naga” and they appear quite frequently on holy buildings and carvings. They quite differ from their Warcraft III representations in that they are more akin to dragons in Cambodian culture, and not serpentine in nature.

Another temple in the middle of the palace.

Another temple in the middle of the palace.

No shoes and photo-taking allowed inside there, so sorry, but nothing to show.

There are four of this ringing the main temple.

There are four of this ringing the main temple.

Plenty of stuff to see otherwise; pictures recording the various kings’ various exploits, their personal effects, even a wall carving that tells an entire story.

Next Stop: Park (I didn’t hear the name at all! I swear!)

The landmark of the park.

The landmark of the park.

Now what's that doing in a park?

Now what's that doing in park?!

Actually I think its for riding; we saw a seat and its caretaker was hanging somewhere just out of the picture. There was a flight of move-able stairs somewhere just to my side too…

Then it’s off to the Central Market. gawd, it has next to everything there… Fried spiders for snackin’, anyone?

The interior of the Central Market.

The interior of the Central Market.

I bought shirts from here.

I bought shirts from here.

I also bought a painting, but that’ll be in the “Looty Booty” section at the last part of this series.

We only had an hour to gawk at the hawkers. I found out, to my horror, that I have absolutely no hope in bargining for prices at all. Oh, the horror!

Of course, not everything was fun n’ games; we had to do our fair part in learning a bit about the history of Cambodia as well.

Forward, to the Tuol Seng Genocide Museum. During its day it was known with fear as S-21.

Those of you familiar with CAmbodia's istory would know what's comin'

Those of you familiar with Cambodia's history would know what's coming.

The graves of the last fourteen people who were killed before the Khmer Rouge fled the place in the last days of their regime.

The graves of the last fourteen people who were killed before the Khmer Rouge fled the place in the last days of their regime.

They tied them to these beds, and tortured them until the blood collected in a pool below. There were photographs depicting the cruelty in the rooms were the bed-frames were, but I think setting my camera to it would have been overstepping my boundaries.

They tied them to these beds, and tortured them until the blood collected in a pool below. There were photographs depicting the cruelty in the rooms where the bed-frames were, but I think setting my camera to it would have been overstepping the moral boundaries.

This might answer some of your questions.

This might answer some of your questions.

What the Khmer Rouge used in thier grisly work. Human imagination used at its very worst.

What the Khmer Rouge used in their grisly work. Human imagination used at its very worst.

Imahine the storeroom in your house.

Imagine the storeroom in your house. That's about the space allocated to a prisoner; maybe two or even three.

They filled it with water and kept the victim's head submerged for a period of time. I believe the Singapore NS used this as a form of anti-POW training sometime back.

They filled it with water and kept the victim's head submerged for a period of time. I believe the Singaporean NS used this as a form of anti-POW training sometime back as well.

This one is easier to understand; they simply strapped the prisoner to it and beat the hell out of him/her with anything they had on hand.

This one is easier to understand; they simply strapped the prisoner to it and beat the living hell out of him/her with anything they had on hand. The "anything" usually were steel bars; you can see one at the top of the construct.

Well-wishers (or, depending on your prespective, vandals) left their personal messages here. I can't deny that I wasn't tempted.

Kind souls (or, depending on your prespective, vandals) left their personal messages here. I can't deny that I wasn't tempted.

The Khmer Rouge's path of conquest. I find it morbidly amazed that guerilla soldiers, even till today, can wreck havoc in a well-supplied army armed with nothing but a second-hand gun and rags for uniforms.

The Khmer Rouge's path of conquest/refugee routes/forced marches. I, morbidly, find that I am in disbelief that guerilla soldiers, even till today, can wreck havoc in a well-supplied army armed with nothing but a second-hand gun and rags for uniforms.

Skulls that were found and categorized. Some had descriptions of thier wound; usually a bullet or a knife to the head.

Skulls that were found and categorized. Some had descriptions of their fatal wounds; usually a bullet or a knife to the head.

A small shop at the entrance was selling various items, mostly eduational ones, about the Pol Pot Regime.

A small shop at the entrance was selling various items, mostly eduational ones, about the Pol Pot Regime.

After educational experiences like this, I always wonder what could have drove the leaders to do something like this. Genocide, genocide, more genocide… our history has been rife with communities of people wiping out each other. The Khmer Rouge regime, however, had their own people wiping out each other. Often preceeding such revolutions were unvafourable conditions for the countries; Germany was humbled after WW I, and Cambodia had its territory chipped away thoughout the history by neighborhooding countries since the 1200s. The people who set out to change the country often had nothing but right intentions… so, what could have happened?

The next and final stop in Phnom Penh for Wednesday was the Riverkids Orphanage; our final show there. We organized ourselves into groups, and then set about to interacting with even larger groups of kids.

Gathering the kids.

Gathering the kids.

D

Big Sis Cindy leading the kids. πŸ˜€

First program in the lineup: Dress-Up!

P

Everyone loves Big Uncle-I mean, Big Bro Kenneth. πŸ˜›

Our representative. Made of epic win; well, as I see it, he is.

Our representative. Made of epic win; well, as I see it, he is.

I forgot who actually won, but that's not important. XD

I forgot who actually won, but that's not important. XD

Next event: Dance! πŸ™‚

I don’t have any photos of this section since I was amongst the crowd, along with my friends, leading the kids (helped by the guys on stage), but they were laughing through every minute of it; Chicky Dance rules every kids’ party, hell yeah! They had a rest-period halfway, and it was free interation between the kids. I can’t count how many kids came up to me asking for company (I seem to get the impression that there were more girls than boys) but I’m sure my fellow friends were nothing less than besiged. >XD

And for the special effects event…

It snowed in Cambodia that day. 8D

It snowed in Cambodia that day. 8D

They had bought two cans of foam spray,and two of my gung-ho buddies (and show MCs as well) became the Weatherman-sorry, Weathermen for almost a full minute.

Of course, no kids’ party would be complete without some sweet edibles to round it off.

Time to hand out the goodies! 88D

Time to hand out the goodies! 88D

They know their manners, that's for sure.

They know their manners, that's for sure.

Our efforts were well-appreciated, it seems.

Our efforts were well-appreciated, it seems.

But there was one last snag in this otherwise smooth going of events; we ran out of our goodie bags halfway through the rows of kids, and thank god, we dived into the huge bag of extra yummys that we bought from the hotel. Thankfully we made it with some to spare.

Some of us bid a tearful farewell, and the kids waved like there was no tomorrow as they filed out of the orphanage; many of them had parents, but were too poor to go to school. The orphanage doubled as such.

Naturally, dinner was excellent. R-E-W-A-R-D! But right before, we had to stop at a nearby supermarket to stock up on important stuff like bottled water and Ankor Beer. Yes, you heard me right. XDD

Fanta

Fanta Lychee. Fanta's the power; POWER!

It was sweeter than the candy canes on Christmas trees though.

The restaurant where we had our dinner was a family-run place; at least, I assume, since it looked very much like a bungalow.

You can see the sign, read it.

You can see the sign, read it.

Because it was dark, there won’t be any foodie pictures.

And that is all for this part. Next round, we’ll be off to Siem Reap, to see le grandeur Angkor Wat!

And no, I have no idea how to speak French. XDDD

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