Cambodia Bound

Well the weather is getting colder , the grey cloudy winter days are tinged with pollution, my bicycle hasn’t seen much action lately, the folks are getting burnt out at work, and Santa Clauses are around every corner. Winter has been descending on Shanghai. I’m not nearly as delirious as last year when I had been working 4 months straight weekdays and weekends. I was about to completely lose it until I took a much needed (and well-deserved) month long vacation to the Philippines (Amazing place , I’ll tell ya more about it later).

This year with Chinese New Year fast approaching , I’m preparing for a two week journey to Cambodia! Since I’m working at a kindergarten and we double as a school and baby sitting facility I don’t have a full month off like I did last year. Two weeks can’t match a month but hey no more complaining. One of these weeks I still receive salary too. Woo hooo! The financial situation won’t quite be as dire as last year.

Tickets are already purchased and E-visas are in hand. I’ve never acquired a visa in a manner like this before. Merely visit the Kingdom of Cambodia’s foreign affairs website ,  http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/ , fill out the application , upload a photo, use a credit card , and bam three days later get an e-visa. Print it out , take it with you to Phnom Penh international airport , bypass the wait for visa lines , and customs officers stick a fresh visa in yo passport. Arriving in the Philippines I was granted 21 days free stay with a simple stamp in my passport , in Laos I got my visa upon arrival at the border ,and China visas involve a lot more money and work.

$25 USD for one month tourist visa to Cambodia. Not bad at all.

Cambodia itself has not fared too well over the last 600 years. Once the mighty Khmer Empire has been subjected to a long period of bad luck ; the fall of an empire , hundreds of years of encroachment by neighboring countries ,colonial subjugation, civil war ,bombings, and the rule of a Genocidial lunatic. Thanks to tourism and international aide just now are things starting to turn around for Cambodia.

You may (should) know that Cambodia suffered greatly under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. If you do not, then the book “After the Killing Fields” is a sobering look at the Khmer Rouge. A highly informative book that will leave you stunned about the sheer amount of violence and murder that happened. Page afer page describes villages whose populations were 70-80% wiped out. Suffice to say, over 2 million people died (nearly 1/3 the population). This trip is a combination of sad remembrance with fun. One hand ;beach , palm trees , kind people , and one hand; killing fields , prisons , visiting torture facilities. I’ve been itching to reach Cambodia even since that Geography of Southeast Asia course at Kent State. Especially fitting since the shooting of 5 Kent Students by the National Guard in 1970 was in response to the United State’s bombing campaigns of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

The plan is to fly into the capital , Phnom Penh, and then book it for the coast and the upcoming beach town of Sianoukville. Spend a little time there and then hop on a boat to the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Saloem for a little taste of idllyic unspoiled paradise. Back to Phnom Penh to see some of the devastation learned about in “After the Killing Fields”. I really want to see S-21 (torture detainment center) and some of the actual killing fields on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Aimee flies back to Shanghai and I continue my trip up to Siam Reap and Angkor Wat ( My photography teacher at Lakeland Community College had an amazing collection of photos of Angkor from his Sabbatical).

I may take a boat from Phnom Penh up through Tonle Sap , Asia’s largest freshwater lake, to get to Siam Reap. After Angkor I want to get off the beaten path a little bit and may go toKompong Thom and/or Kampong Cham.

Less than a month away now! I’m getting pumped. Ready to drink some Anchor Beer , buy some cheap cloths , and blissfully chill out on the beach.

WOOHOO LUCKY ME ENJOY THE COLD WINTER SUCKAS!

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