We are laughing about how much she is cheating me for this ballcap, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Despite being pressured by my hotel to accept (and pay too much for) a tour of Angkor Wat by their tuktuk driver from 7 AM on my first day, instead I slept in and explored the town.  I was overtired and anyway it was easy to sleep late due to something that my room was lacking.  The room I prepaid for had a broken air conditioner so I was downgraded into a room where it worked.  This was after considerable effort on my part.  On the top floor, the room was hotter than the outdoors.  (Low of 30C with usual highs of 39C outside)

My new room had no window and no television, making it basically a cave.   Without the character of a cave.

 

I bet they don’t even know this is a famous person’s hairdo on their salon sign.  They probably just took a foreign person’s hairstyle off the Internet.

I left my hotel not knowing what I would do today in particular,  just I was tired and overheated.  My first stop became a massage for 60 minutes, I decided to try the local Kmer massage.  Once was enough for that.  There is perhaps reason why it is not world-famous. (Later I will have other fantastic massages here, just not that type.)

I let myself be coaxed in to a restaurant for lunch where I paid 10 times the average wage for a Cambodian according to Wikipedia, for this salad and drink.  ($10US)

. There were two customers in this large restaurant during lunchtime, me and one other foreigner.  That’s always a good sign.  LOL.

This always boggles my mind.  An otherwise well designed restaurant.  Here notice the bathroom door is propped open, often the case for a men’s room.  Except that the mirrors are strategically placed so those outside can see who is using the urinals.  

I was feeling grumpy this day.  

Click on the image below to view the video of me being grumpy in the market.

In my travels this is often a conundrum for me.  To give or not to give, what is actually better?  This Cambodian charity is requesting we not give and keep their children on the streets.  I had heard about this quandry in India.  A child would encounter a foreigner and earn too much money in one day.  The parent would decide their income potential was too good to let them go back to school.  And the cycle of poverty continues.

Every tuk-tuk I countered offered to take me somewhere.  Even though I was not going anywhere in particular, I finally accepted.  I had a good feeling about this young man

Click on the video below.

We agreed on six dollars an hour for random wanderings.  This is a very good amount for him yet affordable enough for me.  Yet you can hire a tuk tuk for $12 for the entire day.

If you look closely enough you can see bats in this tree.  In the country people will throw stones and then eat them my driver told me. Most things are considered fair game for eating in Cambodia.

If you squint your eyes, this lion might remind you of something else.  

We are laughing about how much she is cheating me on this ball cap.  Really, we are.

I want you to guess what this is.  I see them all over and it wasn’t what I thought it was.  Sometimes they are all Coke bottles but filled with this other colored liquid.  So I thought maybe it was that tea that every restaurant gives you instead of water.

This is a gas station.  Motor cycles and tuk tuks can easily measure how much gas they used to fuel up by half litre bottles.

I have been giving my driver lots of instructions that I would like to see more local areas.  We we didn’t start out great as he at first tried to take me shopping to all the large souvenir shops, the free-standing tourist traps designed to attract guides with their busloads of clients to earn kickbacks.  This would hugely increase his income if I bought anything at these very large tourist centers.  In fact he explained to me that if I could look for 10 minutes they would give him a vodka and Coke.  If I wanted my driver to be drinking vodka I would buy him vodka myself.  But I don’t

Looks like the sculptor of this elephant used some LSD

He told me monks live there.

On the most interesting part of the ride I did not feel comfortable taking photos.  And I didn’t.

My driver told me these are grave markers.

Click on the video below to see a sweet greeting.

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I think it’s cow.  I wanted our picture together but they were afraid of me.

Click on the video below to see the full view including this cow and 

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Me and my driver, Vichet

Incredible evil of the Khmer rouge

This posting contains videos.  If you received it by email please click on the title and blue to open the posting in your browser.  

Click on the image below to join my first full day inPhnem Phom, Cambodia.

My first day was to be be spent locally.  The Royal Palace is walkable from my hotel but it was very hot approaching noon.  That tuk-tuk driver I hired obviously knew the Royal Palace was closed but he took me for a ride anyway.  

Click on the next image to continue the story of my day.

 

From 1975 to 1979 about 20,000 people were executed and murdered at this location by the Khmer Rouge.  This is only one of more than 300 such killing centers.

This memorial place has a audio guide  full of information.  I listened to the horrific stories as I wandered from site to site.

Now a peaceful garden setting,  it’s rather difficult to imagine the extreme evil that took place here for several years.

There are benches throughout to sit and listen to the audio commentary.

A very necessary but somber experience when visiting Cambodia.  It took me back to when I was 23 years old and I visited one of the Nazi extermination camps in Poland.

This was perhaps not my ideal first full day in Cambodia.

Click on the image below to play another video.

 

What was going on in this site was tried to be kept a secret from the nearby locals.  Music was played during the brutal killings to mask the noise.

This monument was directed to house 8000 skulls recovered from mass graves on the site.

Color codes were used to classify how the victim was murdered.  Bullets were considered expensive so very few were killed by gun shot.  Most were beaten to death with a variety of blunt objects available.  Many were simply knocked unconscious and put into the mass grave.  The chemicals used to hide the odor from getting to the locals also served the purpose of killing those who were still alive when buried.

This was a grouping of skulls clearly damaged by hoe.

Looking up at 8000 skulls of people who were beaten to death in very recent history (while I was alive) is an overwhelming experience.

If that wasn’t bad enough here was a mass grave of children.  Evidence was found that children were beaten to death against this tree.  I would later learn when visiting S21, that babies were smashed against this tree. If someone was deemed “guilty” in a family, the entire family was exterminated.  

This made for a sad first full day in Cambodia.  But this was on my list of places to see so I am glad that I got it out of the way.

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At least they didn’t lie about what city we were in.

This post contains a few videos.

Saigon is a city of 10 million people in the south of Vietnam.  

I made some local friends at a coffee shop in an obscure district where foreigners were rare.  Online my hotel had lied about what district of the city it was located.  So my hotel was in a nondescript sort of nowhere area of Saigon.

Click on the video below to see me riding on my friend’s motorbike.

My friend took me to the area of the city where I thought I already was.  It was much livelier and more interesting and most things were open.  Almost every business in my neighborhood was closed for the entire week of Chinese new year.

<img
Click on the video below to see some nighttime traffic as we walked along.

src=”https://personaltravelstories.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/img_2608.jpg&#8221; alt=””> It was a very strange experience to discover that the district my hotel told me I was in, was so completely different then the area it was actually in.

My new friend, my, took me to her favorite smoothie shop located in an alley in the foreigners district.

My and I both need to wear masks on the busy streets of Saigon.

She was surprised when I pulled out my mask.  But after becoming very sick from pollution in the Philippines I never leave my hotel without one.  I was sick for nearly 3 weeks.  Relentless coughing.

My offered to teach me how to ride motorcycle in Saigon.  In a future post I will show you the motorcycle traffic of this city.  You will understand why I did not take her up on this offer.

Blending in with the Locals in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta, Continued.

Welcome to part two of showing my pictures from the Meking Delta in Vietnam.

This posting contains a number of videos. Click on the title in blue to open the posting in your browser to read the posting uninterrupted. Otherwise when you click on any video image it will open automatically.

As you recall here I am blending in with the locals.

Click on the image below to view a video of going down this tributary.

Is my house”, pointed out our front driver of the narrow boat.  “I have four babies,” she added.

“Will you marry me?” She proposed as I sat at the table having lunch.

No I’m just kidding. She was singing conditional Vietnamese music.  

Click on the video below to see some other music performances we enjoyed location.

This larger boat provided transportation between the main local destinations.  

Click on the image below for a video of the boat.

This refreshments boat was going from boat to boat offering various drinks and snacks.

This was the third time we stopped to pull rubbish off the propeller. Each time, our pilot threw the rubbish back into the water for next time. My laughing was from helplessness, it was frustrating to watch him throw the plastic back in to the water just for someone else to tangle in it again later.

This posting was much longer but it crashed on WordPress after I completed it. I have redone so many postings that have crashed after doing all the work. Sorry, I didn’t have it in me to completely redo this one. Anyway, it was a taste. I hope you enjoyed what did save successfully. Cheers!
Darren

Bus, Boat, Carriage and Bicycle. Exploring the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

I’m going to see if I can do a blog post during the actual day. I spend so much time on transportation and I have installed cellular connections on my tablet and phone, so it may be possible if there are times where the views are not so interesting.  Today I leaving from Saigon going inland to the Mekong Delta.

I am using my voice recognition, creating this posting on my cell phone then editing and adding videos with my tablet.

This posting contains short videos. If you received this by email, click on the title to open in your browser so you can view the videos or click on the first video image when you get to it and it will open in your browser automatically.

I’m not sure if this is my receipt or my bus ticket.

Our guide suggested that Vietnam is 80% Buddhist 15% Catholic and 5% Christian and other.

This is the area we are visiting today. Mostly by boat.

So far today I have ridden a bus, a boat, and a horse drawn carriage. Soon to add to that a bicycle and a different more traditional boat.

Click on the image below for a short video of the horse drawn carriage ride.

I enjoyed cycling to explore another island for almost an hour.

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Click on the image below to view a video of cycling about.

src=”https://personaltravelstories.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/img_2764.jpg&#8221; alt=””>

Some views discovered on my bicycle.

And another video from cycling about, click on the image below.

Floating homes in the Mekong River

Innovative use of plastic sheeting to build this home extension.

A close-up.

Click on the image below for a video clip of where I got my bicycle.

I bought a new hat to blend in with the locals.  I think it was quite effective.

I found a snake.

 

The locals waving to the Tourists is very sweet.

Later I would ride boat like this one

Stay tuned for more photos from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

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A Strategic Ant Farm for People

(This posting has some short video clips. If you received it by email, click on the title in blue to open the posting in your browser so you can view them. Or when you click on one of the video images it will open in your browser at that time.)

The Cu Chi tunnels are a network of more than 200 km of underground tunnels near to the city of Saigon in Vietnam.  They were famous as a unique defense hold against the American military during Vietnam war.  

Here you can see a typical entry point to one of the tunnels.

Click on the image below to see me entering the tunnel through this entry point. This was the original opening size, made so most Americans would not be able to fit through. Only three of us tried to fit.

The Vietcong designed many innovative traps for the American soldiers to encounter.  Most of them involve hidden trapdoors blending in with the ground.

Click on the image below to see this particular trap in action.

The tunnels have a variety of entry points some hidden and not some not.  These were all strategic and caused confusion for the American soldiers.  It would seem that the Vietcong would disappear and reappear in many different places.  This would also cause their numbers to seem expanded.  Their ability to move about underground would have almost seemed magical to the American soldiers above ground.  But not magical in a good way.

 We were told that tanks destroyed where usually buried to be made into bunkers.

The entry of this tunnel would have been made larger for the tourist.  But the tunnel itself was authentic.  I made my way through this one and was very happy not to encounter other people inside.

These huts built into the ground apart from the roof for water drainage were hard to see from any distance.

Thank you for joining my visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.  

Click on the image below as I look for the nearest exit. The tunnels continue on with many exit/entry points throughout. Although we were told these were authentic dimensions, I have no doubt many tunnels were much smaller. Also, although there was not much lighting, there was some intermittent lightning and they would have had none. Seemed like an ant farm for humans, with chambers and features within, although I didn’t seen any.

I hope you’ll join me next time for more of my Asian adventures! Click on “follow” below the list of entries at the right and enter your email address to receive my posts to your inbox. You will receive nothing other than my postings and you can unfollow at anytime clicking “unfollow” on any of the posts you receive.

Cheers!
Darren