This was written after a visit to the Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh in November. I lost my enthusiasm for a while.
Please heed the warning below if you are easily shocked.
Kep, on the coast of Cambodia, is surely something of an oasis. Most people seem to visit to just sleep whether it be in one of the hotels, guest houses, bungalows, or just swing in a hammock all day in one of the many, many thatched shacks that line the shore and beaches. The little town fills up over the weekend with visitors from Phnom Penh but for the rest of the week it is almost deserted. So much has happened, and not happened, since I arrived there that I might miss an important point or two. Right now I am in a local bus making my way down the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam to Can Tho, so yes, I’ve got some stories to tell since leaving Angkor and Siem Reap.
I shirked the twelve hour bus ride south to the coast and took a plane. Only a forty five minute flight, quite inexpensive, and a lot less boring than the long bus ride. From Sihanoukville I got a ride along the coast to Kep and a happy return to the Lodge. Not too much has changed, lots of dogs, monkeys, geckos, bats, amazing views and a feeling of isolation from the world at large. The Swiss owner is still there but seems to have a spouse problem, caused perhaps by having too many! They put me up in one of their newer rooms, a complimentary upgrade for a returning customer, it featured a balcony with a hammock, a mozzie net around the bed, hot water in the shower and the best view over the tree tops to the sea below. I had some fun with the webcam over the tiny pool adopting poses for the folk back home to see. I ate regular meals, took a tuk tuk into the town, lay on the new beach (they have imported the sand), made friends with some girls who owned a barbecue stall who fed me fish, and generally took a time out from the world for a whole week. It was quite blissful.
And then, and then, and then……..
I went back to Phnom Penh from Kep, got my visa for Viet Nam, saw a few sites and headed off down the Mekong. Hmm, that’s a whole lot in one brief sentence. Actually I went to Cheoung Ek and have yet to recover. Well, this was my third visit to P.P. and I got a kick in the pants from my sister in law (Vicky) so I went. In a tuk tuk, of course. They were doing something to the road, driver stopped and bought me one of face masks everyone wears around here. I felt very local. Relieved also in the clouds of dust. It was very hot. We got there. I bought a ticket and was given headphones for the audio tour. The following two hours or so were some of my worst. I have been trying to find the words for the last two weeks, they won’t come. Horrifying, horrible, heartbreaking. Maybe you have seen a movie, the Killing Fields. I have not. On the way back to town I was texting my distress back home and the wife, Jules, said comforting things and soothing words, as always. But it’s still there and I went.
Then off down the Mekong to Viet Nam. I was dropped of in a kind of a one horse town in the Delta, Chao Doc. No hotel, no nothing that I could see. There was a guy with a bicycle that had a little trailer on the back on top of which was what looked like a large tea tray with a hole in the middle. I sat on it, feet through the hole, clutching bags, and off he peddled. Well, this is a riot thinks I. Finally we came to what might be called downtown. There was a hotel, kind of. But it was only for one night so who cares. There didn’t appear to be any food around so I did what the locals all seemed to be doing, sitting on plastic lawn chairs in the dust, drinking beer and watching the traffic. One way to spend an evening I suppose.
Following are some very gruesome, graphic and upsetting photos. Please, if you are easily distressed or easily disturbed,
DO NOT GO FURTHER. I AM NOT KIDDING.