And a good evening to you from across the globe amidst a CONTINUOUS DELUGE in the Lion City. Feeling rather lazy and pathetic, the Bull went for his first ever "monsoon season" jog today, and it worked wonders for the pysche. There's nothing like a good head-clearing, bone-drenching run to put one back in a good place, and I'm happy to report that I've bounced back quickly from my earlier melancholy. The views of the clouds rolling through the city, as well as being the only one on the Merlion platform watching the storm roll through CBD, was a very cool experience. It was raining so hard that I felt like I was on the set of Matrix Revolutions. I was expecting Agent Smith to roll out and say, "Mr. Taylor. Welcome back - we've missed you." Bottom line - I'm in a good spot spiritually now. But just to be safe, I'll soon be ordering up an XL Boomerang Deluxe Pizza to keep the good times rollin'. :-)
I will say that, whilst the run was great for my mental state and EASILY the best run temperature-wise all year, I was sluggish throughout. I ran 30 minutes, which was probably about 3.5-3.75, but each step was work. I'm going to stick with low mileage for a bit and see if my stamina returns. I think it's equal parts a) not running for 10 days before this week, b) eating like a CHAMPION in the month of October, and c) having run the previous 6 weeks on just the treadmill, but either way it would be nice to get some outdoor cardio back before shipping off for the states.
But enough of that, let's get back to the travel recaps - we return to Phnom Penh for our third and final day there, this one including a trip to arguably Cambodia's second most famous place - the Killing Fields of Cheung Ek.
The day started with another GREAT breakfast. Seriously - I was convinced the seat was going to give way underneath me from all my exertions of shoveling bacon, eggs, and toast down my gullet. However, in true "Tight Ass Taylor" fashion, lunch was NOT an option, meaning this had to see us through until Happy Hour. Consequently, DOWN THE HATCH!
|Typical street scene in Phnom Penh - mobile vendors are EVERYWHERE!|
Getting his attention, however, was just not that easy. We wandered down, I made some shuffling sounds with my feet, and even went so far as to say audibly, "Well, shall we look for a tuk tuk?" Normally this would have sent a pack of rabid, feral drivers running for us, but this cat casually looked up, saw us, and went back to his paper. We finally walked over and said, "Hey, tuk tuk to Killing Fields, you can?", and the guy almost fell out of his chair with shock. I mean, HONESTLY - this cat is NOT on the fast track to tuk tuk entrepeneurship. Maybe that explains why we got the deal of a tuk tuk ALL DAY for $13 USD. Amazing.
|Check out the bike on the left - there are five, count 'em FIVE|
people on that puppy! Only the driver is required to wear
a helmet - that's consistent throughout Southeast Asia.
So there is no other way for me to describe the Killing Fields other than completely horrific and utterly fascinating. The tour cost $5, which included an audio tour of the premises. The tour took about 2.5 hours, and I was blown away by a) the quality of the presentation, b) how eerily this was reminiscent of our visits to concentration camps, and c) the fact that most of this happened IN MY LIFETIME and we'd never ONCE learned about any of it in the history books. There was a tree where mothers were forced to watch while their newborn babies (proclaimed as enemies of the state) were bashed to death against trees before the mothers themselves were killed. We saw pits where bodies with no heads were buried, and the areas where people were held in detention before they died. They audio guide had quite a few personal stories about life during the Khmer Rouge (also called the Civil War), and it was just MIND BLOWING. Needless to say it was just about as somber and depressing a place as we'd ever visited, and the fact that so few people in my generation even know about the Khmer Rouge and what happened makes promoting awareness of this place that much more important.
|Again - the beautiful blue skies and birds|
chirping in the background didn't really
do justice to the horror of this place.
We then rode back into the city, stopping at Wat Phnom - the most revered temple in the city. This was decidedly unimpressive, as was the guard who let EVERY LOCAL through but stopped us the SECOND our feet hit the first step. Granted, it was only 50 cents to enter, but still - that was a "farang tax" that we'd just paid.
|The skulls, however, definitely drove the point home.|
We then had unimpressive strolls through the Central Market and Chinatown before ending up back on the river. As it was 4:30 (the start of Happy Hour on the street - also affectionately known as "my favorite time of day"), we started wandering down looking for a place to have a drink. And then, like a beacon of thirst-quenching, there it was - THE FCC!!!
|Don't worry, Tacy parents - 2 of those drinks are mine. :-)|
Oh, and the most random item of the day - SEEING THE NORTH KOREAN EMBASSY. Obviously there aren't too many of those around, but sure enough, we walked past it and I saw the big "PDRK" out front. The building itself is pretty nondescript, and we were so afraid of some Jack Bauer style retribution that we didn't take any photos. However, we DID stop to read the propaganda out front, which was HILARIOUS. There were all these photos of Kim Jong Il in his ever stylish jumpsuit (please tell me there are multiple so that they get washed on occasion), and the caption below each was "Comrade Kim Jong Il giving advice to..." and you could see people on farms, in power plants, on assembly lines, etc. listening to him. There was even a great segment about how "KJI had resisted the vehement oppression and aggressive from the Western Imperialists." I mean, you gotta love 'em for trying...
So that's Phnom Penh. Next up - the travel day to Siem Reap and then the highlight of the vacation: The Temple of Angkor.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and (confirmed in Melbourne but struggling to type on Sarah's iPhone) Jenny