David's World Tour


February 2004 - Angkor Wat

Crossing the border from Thailand, Cambodia greets her visitors with modern casinos. That's not what I expected. The bad, dusty road to Siam Reap is what I expected. Cambodia is just that poor. But Siam Reap is a tourist boom town, and understandably so. The nearby ruins are awesome! Angkor Wat easily rivals Machu Picchu, Tikal, and the Great Wall for amazing archaeology. I hired a bicycle to explore, averaging 30+ kilometers per day. I want to go back already.

I was also impressed by the land-mine museum run by Aki Ra, a man whose parents were killed during the reign of terror. He survived by joining the Khmer Rouge. Now he clears land mines (more than 10,000 so far), and he takes care of children disabled by explosions. What a guy! The days of the Khmer Rouge are happily over, but there are still amputees and orphans and land mines. Don't let this stop you from visiting Cambodia, though, especially if you like great food, cheap prices, amazing ancient artwork, and people like Aki Ra.

February 2004 - Phnom Penh

Even after visiting the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge and the S21 torture center in Phnom Penh, it is difficult to comprehend the terror that killed more than two million people in four years, especially given the charming people of Cambodia today. I have had nothing but great experiences. American bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people here, too (for a war they were doomed to lose); what an incredible shame. Historical facts such as these sometimes make me think that humanity's modern civilization is doomed, but then again, the Cambodian people are so charming, they give me hope.

Phnom Penh is the first city I have ever encountered that doesn't have ATMs for getting cash with a Visa debit card (yet). But it is a pleasant city. Prices are usually given in US dollars. English is widely spoken. Some older Cambodians also speak French. The food is great! And cheap. Cambodia!

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