Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Phnom Pehn

Now I'm in Phnom Pehn. I like the area I'm in even though it will be destroyed within the next year, and I've seen one of the most graphic things I've ever seen. I can't seem to get this image out of my head and its been affecting me all day. It's like a bustling Asian city here without skyscrapers, without all paved roads, without rules (which is normal in Cambodia) and with a lot of bicicles and motorbikes. Its hard to be away from Bhodi's but its nice to be on the move again.

My last day at Bhodi's I went on a boat ride up the river. When Chenda (one of the people that work at Bhodi's) asked me if I wanted to go I figured I might as well or else I'd just sit around all day. Before the boat ride I swam down to Jess's to help her move some big things, then she came on the boat also. It was a nice calm ride up the river with a bunch of people I'd come to know kinda and we just drank beers and went for a ride.
On the boat
Sunset from the boat

The last night there was also fun just hanging out with the bar tender, who also lives there, and drinking and playing pool. Then in the morning I did my normal morning swim but this time swam all the way to the other side and hung out in the abandoned building over there. That was nice, and a good ending to my time on the river. I booked a shared taxi with another girl from the guest house that also wanted to go to Phnom Pehn.

The shared taxi was an interesting experience. The two of us shared the front seat of a normal car, there were four people in the back, and another Khemur person shared the drivers seat. It was a spectical but normal to the Khemur people. The roads were bad and unmarked for much of the way. The driver kept his left signal on most of the time and passed everything he could but also had to slow down a lot for the dirt sections. Also there were oxen driven carts sharing the road also. Then, near the city a horrible accident happened.

We were very close to the city so the street was packed with mostly motorbikes, but also cars, large trucks, and bicicles and people are always trying to pass people in a generally chaotic patturn. We were maybe two cars back when it happened. Basically I saw a teenage girl on a bicicle start to wobble bad (I think a moto cut her off), she did maybe two to three wobbles and then toppled over. She fell right into the road, right inbetween the wheels of a large gravel or dump truck. Her head landed under the truck and the back wheel just went right over her head squashing it like a watermellon.

We were so close I could see everything very clearly. There is no way she lived and I knew it the second that wheel went over the head. It was so fast, she was alive one minute riding the bike like so many other people and dead the next. I can't seem to get the image of the wheel riding right over her head out of my head. We drove right passed her then turned around and drove passed her again to go into the city. I think the truck stopped right there and wasn't going anywhere so the taxi spun around and went into the city a different way, but it made it so we saw her body up close twice. The second time there was a huge puddle of blood that was not there the first time. This is all kinda hard to write. It was all like something you'd see in a movie but I actually saw it happen before my eyes. I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at a crowded street the same again.

Anyway after that we had to haggle for a tuk tuk into the lakeside area of Phnem Pehn where some travelers have recommended that I stay. The area is nice. Its a little allyway tucked away but is full of guesthouses, bars, resturants, and internet shops. Its like Khao San but better, or kinda like the streets in Phi Phi but better. All the guest houses are long and narrow and have decks that overlook the lake, and the sunsets over the lake. Last night I just checked into the guest house ($2 a night) and then went out to the deck to talk to people and relax. The girl from Bhodi and I drank together and ate together but didn't tell anyone about what we saw. I think it was too upsetting for either of us to have a big conversation about people dieing with these poeple we had just met.

The only problem with this area is that they are filling in the lake right now to build on top of it. You can see to the left that they are filling it in with sand and gravel. They will fill in the entire area where the guest houses currently are, destroying the whole area, and then will build some kind of development or buisness area. It really makes me sick to think that this wonderful lake and area of the city will be completely destroyed within a year. The company doing it is some Malaysian company. This whole counrty is up for sale and its obvious everywhere, especially when your watching a beautiful sunset over a lake that will be some sort of development.

Today I woke up slow, and moved slow. I was going to go on a walk around the city but left late. I met some kids I had met at Kho Phan-gan and then also in Sihanoukville at a little cafe. I sat down and three of them caught busses to leave the country and the fourth stayed around. We just watched a movie and now I'm here. The rains have come early this year so its rained hard the last few days but its a welcome rain because it cools it off and most of the time its almost too hot to walk, or even sit. Anyway, thats all for now. Peace
PS. I added pictures and two video's. The oldest video is from the floating market.


  1. Hey, Andy... sounds like a terribly tough, sad image to erase from the consciousness. Life is not fair -- I think parents are not doing their kids justice to pretend it is. Life is both tenacious and fleeting...gorgeous and abusive -- AT THE SAME TIME.

  2. Oh Andy, what a terrible thing to witness. I think your Mom sums it up. Take care.

  3. Hey Andy,
    So sorry to hear that you witnessed what you did, your description alone made me feel lightheaded. We all theoretically (and in great detail even) know that horrible stuff happens, but it is processed somehow differently when it happens in front of you. I understand the feeling of disturbing visions stuck in the brain, and how long it can take to clear that stuff sometimes, and I hope that you're finding ways to keep mental peace while time slowly does its work.

    I enjoy reading about your adventures, keep safe!

  4. andy...it's very sad for this blog...i read it's last night ..it's made me could't sleap..then i wrote on my diary..cos you write on here it's clear so i can imagine..what's happen to her too...sorry ..for her..Life it's not fair...take a good care of you there..moo

  5. Oh Andy, what a tragic thing to witness....