Cambodia Phnom Penh 2002.03.26 - 03.31

Damaged Laptop

Sections of Phnom Penh vary from beautiful to filthy. The 1 km radius around the Royal Palace is the most beautiful with lush green boulevards, functioning fountains, traditionally styled government buildings, and a clean riverfront walkway. The location of chosen accommodation has a monumental impact on one's impression of the city. We highly recommend Okay Guest House to budget travelers based on its ideal location.

Our only disappointment was a damaged laptop on the truck ride from Battambang to Phnom Penh. The laptop was packed tightly in Wes' backpack as had been many times before. First bound in a padded camera case, the case was lodged between sleeping bag and clothes. Our only concern was that the backpack would be roped securely on the back of the pickup. Tugging the rope to confirm tightness and seeing additional luggage being piled atop our bags, we were comfortable that it wouldn't tumble off. We failed to consider the rough dirt road and the resulting concussion to our gear. The laptop display was shattered.

From 1975 to 1979, Cambodia was subject to the most atrocious genocide movement in history, the Pol Pot Regime. Two key remnants, Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and Choeung Ek Killing Field, memorialize the tortured and murdered victims. In 4 years, Pol Pot executed over 3 million people. Anyone with intelligence above a gnat was prone to random termination. Pol Pot's objective was to create a mindless, unquestioning society who's only loyalty was to Pol Pot himself.

The Pol Pot Regime documented their cases obsessively. Every prisoner held at Tuol Sleng was tortured until false confessions were admitted. Once the confessions were documented, the prisoner was taken to Choeung Ek for a quick throat cutting and dumped into one of several mass graves. A day at Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek is psychologically disturbing. A tension grows from within your gut and lasts several days. The atrocities are impossible to comprehend, adding to the disquiet.

From Siem Reap: US$23 by boat, 6~8 hours.
From Battambang: by truck US$3 outside or $6 inside with air-conditioning, 9 hours.

On the truck ride from Battambang to Phnom Penh, our laptop was crushed under the pressure of heavy luggage.
Masami rides on the back of a motorbike in Phnom Penh. A Cambodian flag flies in the background.
Skulls of Cambodians murdered under Pol Pot are collected into a memorial constructed in the Killing Fields.
A small section of the Royal Palace in central Phnom Penh.

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