Christmas in Sihanoukville

For Christmas week I decided to take a break, relax and spend some time at the beach. I didn’t do any sightseeing or hiking, and only took a handful of pictures. Here’s a taste of my holiday! Hope everybody had a great one, too.

The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng

A mass grave at the Killing Fields

A mass grave at the Killing Fields

Similar to learning about the Secret War, I was humbled and shocked by my experiences at the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng prison (S-21) in Phnom Penh. It was a very heavy day, starting with the audio tour at the Killing Fields and then an extremely informative and thorough presentation at the prison. It’s nearly impossible to comprehend how a few fearful, ignorant people can nearly wipe out the educational and cultural lives of an entire nation, not to mention murdering nearly two million innocent people, including infant children.

As is mentioned in the audio guide, though, Cambodia’s story is not too much different from that of the Native Americans in the United States, the Jews and other persecuted groups during World War II, Pinochet’s victims in Chile,  and countless other tragedies that have affected the globe. It’s so important to understand how these situations came about so we can try to prevent them from happening in the future.

Continue reading

A Walk to the Yeak Laom Lake

Yeak Laom lake near Banlung, Cambodia

Yeak Laom lake near Banlung, Cambodia

In Laos I got scammed on yet another bus ride, this time from Don Det to Banlung in Cambodia. Although I knew there was no direct bus to the small town, I purchased a ticket that should have allowed me to transfer from the Phnom Penh-bound bus in Stung Trung. Long story short, I was dropped off in the pouring rain at a small service station in essentially the middle of nowhere – no bus station or information office to be found. When I asked about a connecting bus to Banlung the locals just kind of laughed and told me to have some tea. Apparently I’m not the first sucker they’ve seen. I did finally manage to get a shared taxi for $5 and arrived at Banlung’s town center just before sundown and got a good night’s sleep at a guesthouse.

The next day I set off for the main attraction in Banlung: the Yeak Laom lake. It’s located just about 5km outside of town and it’s a fairly pleasant walk. It’s a volcanic crater lake and it considered sacred by the locals, and the water is very clear and is used by many for bathing and swimming. There’s a walking path that circles the lake and as you get further from the entrance, the more secluded and quiet it gets.