"Mister, where you go? You take moto? Lady, moto?"
We hear these words 30 to 40 times per day. There are no taxicabs or local buses in
When we walk down the street, they pull up one after the other.
"Why you walking? You take moto!"
As soon as we step out of a hotel or restaurant, they drive up in a swarm, demanding to know our itinerary, then trying to convince us that our destination is unreachable without their help. Most of the time they are stretching the truth.
"You go to Silver Pagoda? Oh, very far. You take moto!"
The pagoda, on the grounds of the
"What kind of splendour is this?" we thought. Just then, a huge gust of wind blew in, knocking over the lotus bud, whiskey, and cigarette offerings placed at the Buddha's feet. He must have heard us mocking him!
"Where you go? Wat Phnom? It's raining. You take moto!"
It's only sprinkling, and Wat (temple) Phnom is just up the road, so we walk, no moto. We must go to make amends to Buddha.
There is a particularly active shrine on site dedicated to the genie Preah Chau. Worshippers place slabs of meat and eggs into the statue's mouth and light red candles in front. A monkey sits nearby and tries to steal the offerings. A woman rolls up a newspaper and swats him. The offerings are safe. Buddha and his friends are happy.
"Sir, lady, where you go? Killing Fields? It's hot. You take moto!"
Yes, it is hot - and far - so we take a moto.
The radically Communist Khmer Rouge came to power in April 1975. Their goal: to turn
The Khmer Rouge, like the Nazis, were meticulous documenters of their victims. They numbered each prisoner and photographed him or her upon arrival. Sometimes they photographed the prisoner after he'd been tortured or killed. These pictures now hang at Tuol Sleng, a school the KR converted to a detention center at the edge of
The Khmer Rouge took the Tuol Sleng prisoners 10 miles outside the city, to a field in Choeung Ek, to dispose of them in mass graves. Killing Fields like this exist throughout
The mass killings stopped in 1979, when the Khmer Rouge was ousted, but by that time they had unleashed a nightmare than wiped out close to one-fifth of the country's population.
"Where you go? I'm poor. You take moto!"
We traveled south to
Spent a day with LePine and Wheat Ball, two of the many children who roam the beach selling snacks from large round trays balanced on their head. We collected mussels from the shore for LePine's dinner, cut up straws to make squeak sounds, and laughed along as the kids sang out their new name for Eric - MonkeyChicken - over and over.
We visited nearby
With that image, we'll leave you.
Aug 7 - 14, 2002