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Reisverslag Genocide, a secret war and advernture
25 januari 2016
Genocide, a secret war and advernture
As I am writing I am in a bus in Vietnam. Yes, you've read it well: we already left Cambodia. Because time is limited and I want to take enough time not to rush through Vietnam, I ended up being in Cambodia for only 7 days. Last time I wrote I was in the bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, if I'm not mistaken. A lot has happened since then. Just like every week here. Time flies by, rushed by all new impressions.
So the first day in Phnom Penh I did something awesome. I brought my laundry to the laundry service and afterwards everything smelled soooo good. So, we first wanted to visit the royal palace. We walked over there but apparently it was closed. So instead we hired a tuktuk to take us to the killing fields. Under the reign of the Khmer Rouge, lead by Pol Pot, there was a terrible genocide going on in Cambodia. From April 17th 1975, in 3 years, 5 months and 20 days about 25% of the population of Cambodia was killed. About 2 million people were murdered because they were "a threat to the pure communist state". At the killing fields we got an audio tour (in Dutch!) guiding us. I was told what had happened there and heard some stories of a couple of the (very few) survivors. The whole tour was extremely impressive. It made my really sad and I even cried at some point. In the afternoon we went to S-21, a museum about the genocide and the prisons in that time, in the former prison S-21. Here were also audio tours and I continued learning about the horrors of the recent history of Cambodia. Heavy day...!
The second day in Phnom Penh we visited the royal palace, which was a bit of a disappointment. And afterwards I bought a small notebook in a lovely bookshop. We walked by the independence monument and used the afternoon to do some research on further destinations and plans.
On Wednesday the 20th we took a bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Including the border this took about 7 hours, so that was fine. :) We got a bed in dorm on top of a 3 layered bunk bed. The room was quite small for the 16 people that should sleep there, but it was cozy for sure.
Thursday we visited the War Remnants Museum. This museum is devoted to the "secret" war between the USA and Vietnam in the second half of the previous century. It contains a lot of pictures, stories and facts about the war: a very good history class. In the garden are a lot of tanks and planes from the USA. After this morning filling activity, we visited the Jade Emperor Pagoda: a Chinese place of worship. This was impressing! I can't remember being in a Pagoda before. It was quite dark inside and there were a lot of red statues (with hair) and beautiful carvings in black wood through the entire Pagoda. People were selling some sort of tickets. At first I though it looked like lottery tickets or gambling, but as I thought of it more and more I came to realise that it more likely had something to do with fortune telling. So, after the pagoda it was time for a Buddhist temple. It took a while to find, but was a calm and peaceful visit. I was quite tired so took a nap at the hostel. In the evening we went to the BBQ Garden. A lovely restaurant where the BBQ is actually located in the middle of the table where you are eating. Waiters constantly walk by to help you grill your vegetables and have a small chat. Lovely place.
The second whole day we spent in HCMC we visited the Notre Dame of Saigon and the National post office. The latter is a impressive monumental building, still in use as the post office. In the late afternoon we took a walk along the riverside and read a book on a bench. We had pizza before we left with the night bus to Dalat.
We were supposed to arrive around 6 am, but we arrived at 5 am. That was early. The free shuttle took us to the Cozy Nook Homestay, where we already had a reservation. We waited outside until 6 am and then someone came to let us in. We could check in right away, but the beds weren't ready yet (obviously). So we sat downstairs on the couch. I fell a sleep quite soon and woke up around 7.45 with the comforting sound of easy music and a friendly chitchat around me. Breakfast had started at 7 am and a lot of people were eating together. I could also get a (free) breakfast although I hadn't slept there the last night. That was awesome. One of the other things that made this homestay worth every penny was the family dinner. You could sign up for it until 3 pm and around 5.30 pm everyone (around 20 people) would slowly gather around the long, but low, table. When it would be fully packed, around 6 pm, the owners would put the food out on the table. Rice and a lot of different dishes. We all had our own small bowl and ate and talked about the day, different countries and the plans for tomorrow. With the shared breakfast and shared dinner, the place felt like home in less than a day and the people just felt like stand-in family. That was so enjoyable. After dinner we would just hang around in the home, playing cards and sharing a drink. We stayed for two nights and I was actually sad to be leaving this morning.
The first day, after we arrived so early, the lady of the homestay told us that we could still join on a canyoning tour that would leave at 9 am. That was on Saturday and on Monday the price of the canyoning would be doubled. So we just went for it, changed, brushed teeth and were picked up by Bababa, the guide, together with 3 others from our homestay and 5 Swedish people from another place. We spent the day following the river in a very adventurous way: we were swimming, floating, sliding down waterfalls and abseiling. At some point we could jump down from high rocks. You had to chose between 7 m or 11m and I just went for the 11m. A bit scary but soooo awesome! The tour also included good lunch. We had baguettes that we could fill with vegetables, cheese, tofu, pork, sauces. There also was a lot of fresh fruit and some cake.
The second day in Dalat we joined in in Jorns private tour. (or that's what I called it, he had planned the route and held the map.) Jorn and Jana were Dutch people we met in the homestay. We all wanted to visit the crazy house, so went together in the morning and ended up spending the entire day with the four of us. After the crazy house we walked by the Cathedral and bought lunch at the supermarket, having a nice (windy) picking at the lake. We took te cable car to a temple and another lake where we had a boat ride. On the way back we looked for the palace, but didn't find what we were looking for. It was a good day, ending in a lot of games of Uno in the homestay.
This morning after breakfast we packed and went shopping. We are traveling north and apparently it's going to be cold and rainy. So I bought something with sleeves and a "north face" jacket. Then we went by the bakery to buy lunch and ate it on the bus to Nha Trang. We had an hour to transfer busses and are now in the sleeper bus to Hoi An. Hopefully we will arrive around 6 next morning.
I'm curious what the weather will do. We'll see. Only time can tell.
26 januari 2016 11:21 | Door: oma José
Ha Laura, en Winnie,
Weer een heel interessant verslag. Om maar met het laatste te beginnen, hoe is het weer. Hier werd gezegd dat het in Oost-Azië, en in Japan, ontzettend gesneeuw had.
Jullie maken heftige en leuke en spannende dingen mee, he? Daar zul je je hele leven aan terugdenken. Geniet maar goed van deze reis.
De gruwelijkheden die in Cambodja hebben plaats gevonden, herinner ik me ook wel, maar heb alleen beelden uit de karnt of van TV. Ik kan me voorstellen dat jullie daar ter plekke er meer van meegekregen hebben. Ik was ooit in een van de vernietigingskampen van de Nazi's in Polen, en daar raakte ik ook door van streek.
Fijn dat jullie veel leuks meemaken om je gedachten te verzetten.
Laura, dank voor je berichtje aan mij.
Groetjes voor jullie tweeën.