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Monday 10 Mar 2003
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Hoy an expensive day!

My driver, a mister Santa (Claus as he is known - a man who knows more Irish than I do it has to be noted!), and myself went off on a motorbike to Choeung Ek and back (15 km both ways on potholed dusty roads!)

On the way to CE I stopped off at the "legal" shooting range (although its decidely dodgy proprietors didnt fill me with much confidence in the legality of the operation!). Here I sampled the delights of an AK47 (Kalashnikov) and a US Marine pistol (forgot to ask the name, but it was a hefty mutha!).

This was my first time to shoot an AK47 (let alone hold a real gun of any sort!) and the results of my shots were surprisingly accurate! The soldiers running the thing were clapping me and everything... Im a born killer and I didnt even know it! .

The targets were about 50 ft away and I got quite a few shots to the head of the target sheet (despite the power of the recoil... this thing packs a wallop!) and I got to keep the target sheet (photo will be coming as soon as I find a scanner!). The pistol shots too were surprisingly accurate... all those days playing in the arcades has trained me well!

The whole thing cost 34 bucks though!!!... Ouch indeed!

On a more sombre note, we went off to the Killing Fields of Choeng Ek and this was quite sobering after the thrill I got from firing a deadly weapon. Lots of empty mass graves around the place, but there are bones and scraps of clothing still littering the area... the guide I had with me (although admittedly I didnt think he was quite worth the 3 dollars!.. essentially took me on a 6 minute tour and then ran off for lunch!!) was telling me that his parents were bludgeoned to death there (to save on bullets) and there was a tree where babies were flung against (the blood still evident!)... at the centre of the memorial lies a pagoda housing some 8000 skulls (all showing the various methods by which the person was executed... most had gaping holes where a hammer was used)

After this Santa drove me back to Phnom Penh and we had lunch in a true Khmer restaurant (menu entirely in Khmer so I had no idea what I was eating... probably dog meat) and I went off to the Golden Palace and Silver Pagoda... these truly are amazing and tranquile places, although I wasnt allowed to take my camera inside! The French Governers house right smack in the middle of the palace is quite amusing since it looks like it was transported directly out of Paris and contrasts with the large Golden Pagodas that flank it on either side.

One last thing... Santa was telling me that there are elections taking place in Cambodia later this month and he reckons the majority of the people will want the current CPP government to leav office... of course they will try everything to avoid leaving office and this could leave to severe troubles in this (relatively) peaceful country once more...

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Photo Album

  • Me and my AK47

    Phnom Penh

    Cambodia

    Me and my AK47
  • RAMBO!

    Phnom Penh

    Cambodia

    RAMBO!
  • Holding cell

    Phnom Penh

    Cambodia

    Holding cell
  • Torture...

    Phnom Penh

    Cambodia

    Torture instruments