• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 29

Day 29 – 24th January 2020

Chinese New year today – Yellow flowers everywhere. Keep giving me the support guys, you are all marvellous – Thank you. Just a note of sadness hearing the passing of Terry Jones from Monty Python. A very clever funny man, who helped to shape my formative years.

I have left my hotel early this morning because I do not one hundred percent trust this bus ticket. Admittedly it hasn’t ever done anything to me before, but I guess that I am just being cautious. Nick (made up name) is my Tuk Tuk driver to my ticket issuing office. Who, incidentally, I have to direct because he hasn’t a clue around this city. He tells me that he is from Poi Pet, and not used to the bright lights of Phnom Penh. He would not accept any money for the service so I had to thrust a one dollar bill in his top pocket.

Needs to tie his hoe laces up. Third floor top left was my $15 room.

This morning I have been besieged by beggars, who seem to want to give me their life stories. There was one guy, however, that intrigued me. He played an instrument the likes of which I had never seen before. It was a mallet shape wooden piece with a single string and he played it with a bow. The noise emitted was similar to that of a sitar. Quite enthralling how he could hit the scale of notes from only one string. The free minibus service that takes you to the bus station was early so it suited me. On the way I saw racks upon racks of suckling pigs, gutted and cooked ready for the New Year celebrations. Literally they were all down the major thoroughfare, and lines deep trying to buy them. It is a cooler morning today but there are clear skies so I am sure that the gauge will easily surpass thirty later on. The bus station as such, is not a bus station as such. It is a triangular street corner where, with a lot of assistance you can get about half a dozen buses in. There is a counter and a café, but there are dozens and dozens of people trying to get on buses. People, bags, boxes, containers and get this, a boxed washing machine. Now if that wasn’t enough mayhem, my bus was fifteen minutes late and as we set off around ten metres in reverse. We stopped and went back. Not only was it a late comer, but it was a scooter with four passengers, who all needed to be loaded up. Including the bloody scooter! I thought that we would finally be setting off then, but no. Another four separate people get on the thing, when their ticket had already correctly informed them that they should be there at least thirty minutes before departure. What’s the point of having a system….? Oh don’t get me started…

Today is a red and white bus boys and girls - now don't forget! Goodbye to the Mekong (below)

Now todays coach trip wasn’t nearly as exciting as yesterdays trip, apart from crossing the Mekong for the last time, and driving past “The Killing Fields.” They are a part of modern history that should not be forgotten. For those too young to remember...

The ‘Killing Fields’ are collectively a number of sites in Cambodia where more than a million people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime (which were actually the Communist Party of Kampuchea) during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodia Civil War (1970–1975). The mass killings are widely regarded as part of broad state-sponsored massacres. Their infamous leader one Pol Pot. He was so paranoid of anyone that could put a rational argument up against his form of virtual totalitarianism, that he had them brutally killed. Fundamentally anyone with a University Education. Analysis of 20,000 mass grave sites indicates at least 1,386,734 were victims of direct execution. Estimates of the total deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including death from disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a 1975 population of roughly 8 million. In terms of percentages it was massive.

Today from two separate sources on the bus people have offered and shared their food with me. Since I have been in Asia, I have come to understand that it is considered extremely bad manners not to accept. So today from the chap sitting next to me, he broke bread offering me a major part, which I accepted gratefully. Then shortly afterwards a young student lady to his left (over the aisle from both of us) offered some of her sliced mango to us both. Simple lovely gestures not to be undervalued. That was the only two real exchanges I had during this six hour trip, so imagine my relief when the bus finally arrived in Siem Reap. Apart from those two brief interludes, the bus driver had played back to back Jackie Chan movies from the eighties. You know the ones where the Kung Fu sound effects are around a second delay, and the lip sync’s belong to puppets. There are two further things to note on this trip. Firstly that the driver is taking money quite openly, for filling the empty seats along the way, together with irregular stops to pick up buckets of eggs, fruit and two television sets, (old varieties with enough room in the rear casing to house a stowaway,) which are received as arranged somewhere further down the road. Secondly, this is definitely the land of the tall thin cows. Their ribs jut out so much, surely they cannot be productive farming stock when they are so undernourished? So here I am on my second Tuk Tuk of the day, heading up the high street of Siem Reap to find my lodgings for the next two nights. Gets here to find no power in this section of the city, and my room was on the fourth floor. (Not that there is a lift even if it had power.) The hardest part was having no air con in the room as it was stifling. Still at $16 dollars a night, what can you expect. It did come on around thirty minutes later after my third cold shower.

It is a bit hot for Ernie the Journey Bear - He does like a bit of sightseeing though.

Tomorrow - Angkor Wat

Position: 13°321'51” N 103°51'11”E – Miles completed: 10344

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia 21:42 - 24th January 2020 - Journey 29 days 18 hours

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