trv (trevmex) wrote,

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Day 7: Kickin'it in Siem Reap

Today we decided to relax and stroll around town in Siem Reap. We woke up late and headed to a Cambodian Cultural Village. It looked like a Cambodian-themed Disneyland, and we couldn't get in until 2:30pm anyway, so we decided to skip it.

From there we took a Tuk Tuk (a good one this time) to the Land Mine Museum. It isn't a museum per se, more like a collection of defused land mines, mortars, grenades, and bombs. We traveled through a residential part of town with very poor roads and people living in run down huts, a stark difference from the relative glitz of the main market area.

We watched a video about land mine removal and learned that there are still millions of active land mines still in Cambodia from decades of war. The man the runs the museum, Aki Ra, was a child solider for the Khmer Rogue and was used to lay the mines, and now as an adult he has dedicated his life to their removal and destruction.

my picture of the day was a row of 500 lb. US made MK-82 bombs. It is one thing to read about these things, but to actually see them is amazing. Many people we have met on the street here in Cambodia, and to a certain extent in Thailand, have been without limbs because of land mine accidents. I read one thing at the museum that said there are over 90 cases of land mine accidents a day, even now.

After that sobering experience, we decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing. Mateo got some passport photos for our Vietnam visa, since we are going there in about a week, and we got some money and went to have lunch at an outside cafe.

It was then that the rain started. The rain came in big dollops and lasted for hours. We got a couple beers in a vain attempt to outlast it, but two hours later it was still coming down, so we gave up and ventured out into the street, which had turned into an ankle-deep muddy river by the time we left.

As we window shopped, we were followed by a local boy that we encountered yesterday at Angkor Wat by the name of Cena. Cena remembered "John" (which is what he called Mateo the day before, insisting that was his name) and wanted to sell Mateo some stuff. He followed us for 4 hours in the pouring rain begging Mateo to buy his goods. It was quite impressive. Finally Mateo caved and bought a handmade bracelet for a dollar and the boy left us. That is a LOT of work for one dollar.

I have not been hassled too much here. Perhaps I am too curt when I am approached, but people don't bother me as much. I really dislike the hard sell. I want to buy something because I want to buy it, not because you sell it to me. But that is just the way things work here.

Tomorrow we are off to the capital, Phnom Penh, by boat. So until then, take care.

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