Louis Cooper in Asia: Week 3

We arrived in Phnom Pen, the capital of Cambodia after a pretty hectic boarder cross from Vietnam. The immigration officers took everyones passports, stamped them up and then started calling out names to a crowd of about 100 people. It was a nightmare because they couldn’t pronounce some of our names which made it harder to get the passports back, my name came out “Lucy Copper”.

When we got to Phnom Pen bus station we were swarmed by eager beaver tuk tuk guys, so we got them to take us to the budget part of town which is on the ‘lakeside’. Our hostel was a floating bamboo structure surrounded by pretty murkey lake water swarming with mosquitoes. Our rooms had corrigated iron on the roof which turned them into a sweaty sauna at night. We were all pretty knackered after the bus so decided to go check out this ‘Happy Herb Pizza’ Place. Turned out to be a big result and ended up having a good evening chilling out round the lakeside. The weirdest coincidence happened at Happy Herbs though, we looked over at another table and recognised some bloke who was sitting there. I asked if he was from Brighton and it turned out that he worked in STA travel and that he was the bloke that booked our tickets out here to Asia, he remembered who we were too.

Phnom Pen (Cambodia) – Holding Russian UZI’s at the shooting range, underneath the ‘don’t touch guns sign’, so much for rules here.

The next morning we woke up and planned to do at the sights in Phnom Pen. We started it off with a bang and went to the shooting range out of town. Its pretty sketchy here, as we arrived we got given a menu of all the weapons prices and how much ammo you get, as if you were sitting down at a restaurant. We shot a few rounds of a Colt 45 and talked to the owners about what else you could do. You can pay money to shoot a cow down, and we bumped into some blokes who shot a duck with an AK. If you want you can shoot rocket launchers and they take you into the mountains to test them out.

Sihanoukville (Cambiodia) – Fresh beach in Cambodia where I was stung by the sea urchin, Level Army Represent.

After shooting the guns we went to see the horrific ‘killing fields’ where Pol Pot (the Khamer Rouge dictator) did a mass genocide in the early 80s. At the Killing fields you see hundreds of skulls stacked up of lots of the victims and you walk round the areas where innocent people had been slaughtered, you can actually see bones sticking out of the floor and old bits of clothes; it makes you realise how recent it was. After this we headed down a bumpy road back into town to the S21 genocide museum. This is where Pol Pot converted a school into torture chambers and a prison before people were taken to the Killing Fields. They show the beds where people were tortured and photos of all the victims, the stuff you see is really dark.

Ankor Wat (Cambodia) – An ollie for the tuk tuk drivers, possibly one of the first in the world to skate here.

We needed something to liven us up after a pretty heavy day looking at some of the Cambodian history so decided to hit up the most popular club called ‘Heart of Darkness’. It was a good night but we heard some stories about the club, and apparently a few years back there used to be lots of shoot ups inside with local gangs, though there was no evidence today. The next day we checked out some bussling markets where you can literally buy anything for dirt cheap, so we took advantage. Central Market is under one of the biggest domes in the world. The only thing you cant get is skateboard supplies, however everyone knows what a skateboard is and some of the locals can go as far as asking for an ‘ollie’. We’re going wait till we get back into Bangkok to go to some skateparks/shops.

Phnom Pen (Cambodia) – Some of the many skulls from victims at the Killing Fields.

We got the bus to the heart of the beaches in Cambodia called Sihanoukville which is about 5 hours south. We heard a story about someone on a bus traveling through rural Cambodia and the bus had stopped at the side of the road so people could go to the toilet. Some bloke walked behind this bush and a massive explosion had gone off. The drivers to the bus immediately hurried everyone else back onto the bus and sped off. Apparently he had stood on one of the many landmines in Cambodia and the bus drivers thought it was best just to leave him. Cambodia is the most heavily land-mined country in the world and when you walk down the street you can really notice it due to the amount of people with missing limbs.
Sihanoukville is a really nice little town based around perfect white sandy beaches with crystal clear water. It doesnt get deep for ages when your walking out, I managed to tread on a sea urchin when I was neck deep which cained quite a bit and had to pull the spikes out. There were a few good beach parties here in the evening also accompanied by these massive thunderstorms which acted as a natural strobe light, and added to the night.

Ankor Wat (Cambodia) – The impressive Ankor Wat temple at 6.00am just before sunrise.

We got the bus to Siem Rip, home to the world famous Ankor Wat temples that you might have seen in ‘Tomb Raider’. It takes about 40 minutes out of town to reach the complex of temples and then you drive from one to another. Some of the stairs up to the towers are unbelievably steep you could probably acid drop the 20 flight. We got up at 5 to got check the temples out for sunrise which was really impressive. I took my board along as i thought it would be a good opportunity to skate somewhere that no ones ever skated before. Were staying here for a few more days and then were gonna head back to Bangkok via a night safari in this national park.
Im looking forward to going to check out ‘Preduce’ skateshop which has a big indoor park below it in the mall. I managed so slice the bottom of my big toe open which has taken a while to heal, its almost better so I should be back on my board for some big Bangkok sessions.

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