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locations people

the killing fields

choeung ek is the best-known from the sites known as the killing fields. right after the entry the commemorative stupa filled with the skulls of the victims takes away all illusions about this place.

it is a weird atmosphere as the fields look like a garden or a park.

but the pits in the ground where the excavations revealed the bodies of thousands of people won’t fit in. on the left in the picture, the “magic tree” was equipped with a loudspeaker to drown out the screaming.

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locations

tuol sleng genocide museum

a former school was transformed into the s-21 prison for interrogation and torturing captives.

in most of the rooms there are photographs of how it was found after the vietnamese army took control over the city. 14 victims were left dead by the khmer rouge before they fled the city.

many of the former class rooms were devided by crude brick walls to create tiny seperate cells.

when you take a look a the photographs of the victims you wonder how many children are amongst them and why the khmer rouge felt threatened by these people.

many ot those imprisoned were later executed at the killing fields.

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locations

royal palace phnom penh

early in the morning on my second day in phnom penh i made my way to the royal palace. the palace itself like about half the area is off limits but other buildings are free for visitors. like the throne hall with its mostly golden interior. photos were just allowed from the outside.

frescoes, mostly depicting scenes from the reamker, can be found inside the buildings and along the arcades.

the reamker is an epic poem based on the ramayana epic from india.

another important building is the silver pagoda.

it got its name from the silver tiles on the floor. which i have to say were mostly covered by carpets and half of the uncovered ones were held together by duct tape. but still a cool name for a building.

coming to the palace as soon as it opens is good advice. you’ll soon be ahead of the few tour groupes which move very slowly and so there is plenty of space to explore the site without trampling over other people’s feet.

tomorrow i’ll visit the former prison camp s-21 and the killing fields, places of terror erected by the khmer rouge.

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food

a cyclist’s menu

breakfast:

coffee with fresh milk

4 mini cakes from the market

.

along the road:

a pineapple

a water melon

some black sparkling sugar water

some fresh fruit shakes

a lot of water

.

dinner:

greek salad (try to look hungry and you might get the one ordered from the next table 15 minutes ago)

fried tofu and vegetables with rice

glass of white wine

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locations people travel

mekong discovery trail

i stayed in strung treng for two days. after the relaxing week on the 4000 islands i was in no condition to get back to normal cycling life immeadiately. i fell asleep before the match between germany and uruguay but was awake for the final. the extra days gave me time to plan my further route. the mekong discovery trail is yet to be developed but there is some useful information on the homepage if you plan to travel along the mekong rather and than on the highway.

mostly a dirt road along the river…

it also invites you to hop on the islands. i stayed at a home-stay in koh khnhaer before crossing the mekong the next morning to one of the island where there was supposed to be a road leading south and from there another boat back to the mainland. so far so good. the people from the village organized the boat, we had some problem locating the road but found a local fisher who agreed to take me there.

the road was just two lanes of sand and soon i found myself sliding and cursing towards what i thought should be south. when we got to the road i was instructed to just follow it but soon the road was overgrown and splitting which made it hard to keep track. after 4 hours i thought i must be close and found someone to get me back to the other side. by then i was really exhausted and had run out of water so i asked where i could get some. following the directions i ended up at a restaurant where i was invited for tea when one of the people gathered there was greeting me. when i recognized him my first thought was “hey old man what are you doing here?”. he was the father of the guy who showed me around the village last night. it didn’t take long then to realize that i ended up just 200 meters away from the place from where i started this morning. aargh!

well, back to the main road, lunch, forgetting the morning and onward!

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locations

khon phapheng waterfall

a last stop before the border at the khon phapheng waterfalls.

mark uploaded to videos of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt9IMOnfU5k&feature=autofb

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXm6aq1yuyM&feature=autofb

procedure at the border was quite quick and soon i was rolling into cambodia.

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postcards

barbershop advertising poster

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locations

4000 islands

we started quite early in the morning from champasak. there was a small breeze which blew away the humidity but once in a while i still wished to do it like the water buffalos.

as so often we pushed ourselves forward as it was quite a distance to cover in one day but as we arrived it was only early afternoon. after some negotiations at the ferry we loaded our bikes on the narrow boat.

we met up with tansy whom we met in tad lo and had our well earned dinner before watching the sunset from the bungalow at the river.

i stayed a whole week there… did not go to cycle the island, did not visit the old french railway, did not go to see the dolphins, did not go for a boat tour or to see any waterfalls. i still don’t feel that i missed anything. i picked up my guitar everyday and felt that it was a nice way to say goodbye to laos.

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locations people

champasak

on the way from the tad lo oasis i got confronted with sorrow a little too soon. as i stopped for a drink the earth shook and a bursting sound came from down the street. a house had collapsed and by the time i reached the scene, crying people were carrying their loved ones, dead or wounded, covered with blood and dust out of the remains of the building. the rest of the day was kind of blurred.

after spending the night in pakse, i made my way to champasak where i met mark again and we cycled to the khmer ruins.

the view from the upper terrace.

it was lovely. peaceful and quiet the knotted trees added to the fairytale atmosphere.

in the evening we found a place with tv and watched the rather entertaining match between the netherlands and brasil. the next day we had about 120 km ahead of us before reaching the 4ooo islands.

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food locations people

tad lo

as soon as i left the main road i ended up with a dirt road which leads towards the bolaven plateau and its waterfalls. i ended up in tad lo. a place with only a handful of guesthouses and a laid-back atmosphere that embraces you.

the guesthouse had a wonderful garden and when it rained we had a stream of water running through it with our own small waterfall just in front of the huts.

in tad lo i met mark, a fellow cyclist from the netherlands, and together we went to the top of one of the waterfalls. there was hardly any water at that time but the pools were inviting to dip in the feet.

not far from the guesthouse after a little walk through the forest was another waterfall. jumping from stone to stone you can make it to the middle of the cliff and lay in the sun with the water rushing down not 5 meters away and dragonflies dancing above your head.

on our last evening we made dinner at our guesthouse. we learned how to make spring rolls and had tons of fried potatoes to it. then again it wasn’t the last evening and i stayed another day…