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June 11, 2014

Off Again

We set off yesterday for two months in S. E. Asia. We have two suitcases (not full) and then all of us have backpacks that get larger per size of the person. I'm spoiled as usually the big boys grab mine.

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June 12, 2014

First day Phnom Penh

We hired a tuk tuk to drive us around the city for two hours as after no sleep the night before all were tired.

We climbed up to see the temple at the top.

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Friends Restaurant and School

Went to a great restaurant tonight. Friends is one of a small group around the region that trains former street children to cook and serve in the restaurants. It has a much larger goal as well and provides a multitude of programs in technical training and education.
http://www.tree-alliance.org/our-restaurants/friends.asp?mm=or&sm=ftr

We had all kinds of amazing dishes that use local ingredients in new ways. This one was beef with lemon grass and black ants (a mix of little ones and juicier big ones with wings).


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The Killing Fields

Today we went to the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. I knew this would be difficult and tried to prepare the younger two as to what to expect but it was still rough for all of us. The Killing Fields is just one of hundreds of mass grave sites in Cambodia where people were brutally murdered by Poll Pot’s army from 1975 to 1979. This one had 8,895 bodies discovered. These were men, women, and children and the bones, teeth and clothing are still making their way out of the ground today. We stepped over shards sticking out on the paths. Clothing pieces can be seen with just corners sticking out. The old tree where babies were killed was too much for photos.

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Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

After the Killing Fields we went to Tuol Sleng which is an old high school that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as a prison (S-21). It is estimated that about 20,000 prisoners were in here awaiting transport to the Killing Field where they all were put to death. In the prison they were tortured brutally and kept in inhumane conditions. Men, women and children all were processed through this center on their way to die. Educated people were particularly at risk and the guide told us often that teachers and professors were killed.

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June 13, 2014

Markets, Palaces, and Museums

Another day in Phnom Penh. We spent the day in the main city this time and visited the National Museum which is next to our hotel and then in the afternoon the Royal Palace.

The museum is interesting and filled with stone statues and doors etc. If we hadn’t been in Siem Reap last summer we would have enjoyed it more, but seeing these same statues and large blocks of Sanskrit stones out in temples was more rewarding somehow. Still the building these are housed in was lovely. I photographed that more. It was an art museum built in the early 1900s.

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June 15, 2014

Kampot and Kep

We hired a car to drive us to Kampot which is about 2.5 hours south of Phnom Penh. It was comfy despite 4 of us in the backseat but a nice Lexus 4-wheel drive. Not bad for $60. The longest part was leaving the city as it was heavy traffic and then the road is narrow so you have to dodge tractors, lorries, carts, and of course hundreds of motor cycles and tuk tuks. Driving is quite harrowing in Cambodia and I wouldn’t want to attempt it even with my Dubai skills!

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June 16, 2014

Bokor Mountain

We drove up Bokor Mountain from Kampot. It was about 4 hours round trip. Not that far but the road is windy and near the top visibility is so bad that it slows everyone down. This is the second highest mountain in Cambodia and also a national park.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokor_Hill_Station

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June 18, 2014

Finding Old Friends on the Road

We had a really fun find in Kampot. Our tour guide from last summer’s Angkor Wat/Siem Reap (Cambodia but about 6-9 hours away from where we were this summer) turned up. He was taking a couple around the country for 10 days and they were staying in our hotel. Vanny was an amazing guide last summer. Very knowledgeable about history and culture plus current issues. He also quickly understood what we liked and so took us through forests and in to temples by scrambling over rocks etc. Made it fun for the kids.


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