Phnom Penh

DSC02363

Our Cambodian adventure continued in the capitol city of Phnom Penh.  Once there, our driver took us to the heart of the tourist district.  We ended up staying at the Longlin House II for $12 /per night.  There were $8 rooms available but for that price you had to share a common bathroom.  On street 172, we were right in the middle of the best bars, restaurants and shopping the city has to offer.  The night-life can get pretty crazy.  Sean and I stumbled home in the wee hours most evenings.

DSC02370

Pictured above and below are trash piles in the street at Kandall Market after the booths close at night.  Don’t worry, trash collection occurs most nights and the market is cleaned again for a new day.  The shops are quite busy and accumulate piles of trash each day.

DSC02268

Phnom Penh’s streets are pretty congested and they seem to have their own rules of the road.  Pictured below are 5 on a motorbike.

DSC02361

For evening meals, we Often chose to eat at the Longlin House I restaurant.  Meals there were quite good and very reasonably priced.  Plus, the offered 50 cent beers during their happy hour.  Watching the evening rush-hour on their patio was comical.

DSC02382 DSC02381

Pictured above is one of the many children selling stuff on the streets to make extra money.

DSC02378

The road-side shave was very good.  Obviously, this older barber knew what he was doing.

DSC02377

Some things in Phnom Penh were comical to us but are a way of life for the locals.  Pictured above is a lady selling gasoline in one-liter whisky bottles to service the many scooters along with cigarettes.  Gas and smokes….Brilliant combo!

 

DSC02376 DSC02372

Pictured above is a lady who just showed up and started to give me a massage while I was eating.  She didn’t ask for money but obviously hoped that I would pay.  I was quite surprised but gave her a tip anyway.

I respect the work ethic of the Cambodian people.  They all worked hard to get whatever money they could through very creative means.  Although obviously poor they were not beggars nor did they steal from or rob people.  I felt quite safe walking the streets at any hour.  After visiting many places in neighboring Thailand, I wish that more help would be given to educate this country that has equally impressive tourist sites and resources.

Killing fields Phnom Penh Cambodia

DSC02337DSC02336

The killing fields are the companion to the S-21 museum in Phnom Penh where confessed criminals were taken to be executed. This is the last stop for many prisoners of the Khmer Rouge.  The pictures above are from the S-21 museum depicting shooting babies in the air and bashing them against trees while their mothers were forced to watch.  The picture below is a saw-tooth palm used to cut the throats of the prisoners to execute them.

 

 

DSC02345DSC02348

There were many mass graves found at the site.  Some of the grave sites have memorials built but many are just pits in the ground.  The picture below shows a field with a shed in the background.  This shed was used to store tools used to execute victims.

 

 

DSC02349DSC02351

Even prison guards were not spared.  The pit above was the site of the headless graves.  Guards or anyone who disobeyed were beheaded.  Their bodies thrown in the pit and their heads put on display to caution other guards from disobeying.

DSC02350

Bone fragments and clothes still surface after rains at the site.  These are collected and below are just some recent examples.

 

DSC02353 DSC02352DSC02355

Pictured above is the tree where babies were bashed to death.  There was pieces of skin, hair and brain tissue lodged in the bark.  the picture below is the pit where babies remains were discovered next to the tree.

DSC02354DSC02357

The tree pictured above was used to mount loud speakers where national music was played to drown out the sounds of the executions.

DSC02356DSC02358

The last picture is of the skulls on display on the first level of the monument.

The Killing Fields Monument is a sad memorial to the victims but also serves to educate about government atrocities in hopes that genocide like this never happens again.

Awesome birthday gift…GoPro Hero 3

My daughter and son got me the coolest birthday gift ever!  I am the proud new owner of a GoPro Hero 3.  This will be the perfect way to capture many of my travel and surfing adventures.  I am just in the early stages of trying to figure everything out but once I do there will be cool videos on the site in the future.  After researching mounts and accessories I have many ideas of the different activities I will be able to film.  I just hope the files don’t overwhelm my server. lol

2004 Vespa ET-4 runs out of gas with 3/4 fuel in tank

I finally figured it out!  This was a very strange problem that even internet research failed to diagnose.  SAMSUNG  The scooter would essentially run out of gas when the fuel gauge showed just over or under 1/2 tank remaining.  The first time it happened, I thought my fuel gauge failed and the bike was truly empty.  This was not the case as I could see plenty of fuel in the tank.  Nevertheless, once I filled up the tank again (by adding about 1/2 gal of fuel); the bike would start and run just fine.  This problem happened several times and I finally started carrying extra fuel just to top it off.  This was a decent solution to the problem of being stranded but was still annoying to worry about running out of gas at unexpected times.  In traffic, this is not a lot of fun.  After thinking through the problem, I recalled having a faulty fuel tap replaced prior to these issues.  The mechanic who installed it assured me that this part would not do that.  This mechanic worked at a Vespa Authorized repair shop in Daytona Beach so I initially took his word for it.  I finally contacted Vespa of Orlando to see if they had a OEM fuel tap.  They assured me that all of their parts come from the manufacturer and were all OEM.  I decided to schedule an appointment to have the fuel tap replaced.  Their mechanic has worked on Vespas exclusively for the last 7 years and has never hear of this problem but replaced the part anyway.  This is what we found:

SAMSUNG

The fuel tap on the left in the picture above was the part removed and the fuel tap on the right is an OEM fuel tap for my Vespa.  Apparently, the mechanic in Daytona installed a Chinese generic fuel tap that on the surface seemed to function ok.  I do recall the mechanic having to make carb adjustments just after the installation because the bike “just wasn’t running right”.  Sure enough, similar adjustments had to be made after the correct fuel tap was installed also.  My only guess as to why this happened is because the vacuum required by the carburetor to operate the valve.  I understand that there is a diaphragm and spring that close the valve when the bike is not operating to prevent fuel from flowing. The two parts must require different vacuum pressures and thus attribute to the fuel problems I experienced.

For anyone who finds this article though a search in the future, don’t accept Chinese parts on your Italian scooter.  If you run out of gas like I did or have weird fuel problems after a fuel tap replacement then make sure the fuel tap was OEM before spending tons of money diagnosing fuel issues.

Veterans Day 2013

I had a great day finding the free offers to veterans.  Thank you to TGIFridays and Applebees for the free meals.  I had lunch at the TGIFridays on 520 in Merritt Island.  The food was great and the staff was very friendly.  They were busy and the food took a bit longer but the food was very good.  I also discovered their happy-hour specials where they offer 1/2 price appetizers and drinks from 3-7pm Monday through Friday.  I will have to stop in again during their happy hour to check it out.  Dinner was free at Applebees on Sykes Creek in Merritt Island and was also very good.  They were also extremely busy due to their promotion and there was also a bit of a wait but the food more than made up for it.  I chose the sirloin with mashed potatoes and vegetables and it was cooked perfectly.  I have not been to an Applebees in quite a while but will have to consider them next time I choose to eat out in the future.  All-in all it was a great day.  The weather was perfect for scooting around and it was fun finding the deals.

Tuol Sleng Genocide (S-21) Museum Phnom Penh Cambodia

DSC02340

The Tuol Sleng Genocide (S-21) Museum in Phnom Penh Cambodia is a very sad but educational place.  From 1975-1979 the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed 25% (roughly 4 million) of the Cambodian population in over 300 facilities just like the S-21 prison.

 

 

DSC02339

These leaders are still being tried for their crimes to this day.

DSC02338DSC02269

The playground of the former high school turned torture camp.

 

DSC02286

Building “A” housed general prisoners and also torture rooms upstairs.

DSC02282 DSC02280

This picture shows a dead inmate found when the prison was discovered and the next picture shows the torture room today.

DSC02279

Guards used these torture rooms to force confessions for crimes against the country.

DSC02275 DSC02273 DSC02270

The gallows were swing sets turned torture devices.  The guards would hang prisoners upside down with their heads submerged in sewage filled pots to gain confessions.

 

 

DSC02289 DSC02290DSC02309 DSC02308

 

The Khmer Rouge documented their victims throughout the process from captive to confession.  Inside the museum are many examples like the ones shown below.

DSC02301 DSC02296 DSC02295

Clothes and personal items were stripped of their owners for processing. The picture below shows some that were found.  The picture below that shows what I stumbled upon in a section closed to the public.  As of my September 2013 visit, there was a stairwell full of clothes, shoes and other personal items.

 

 

DSC02292DSC02313DSC02314

Building “B” was more secure than building “A” with barbed wire and small cells.

 

DSC02315DSC02316DSC02319 DSC02324

Pictured below are two of the water torture devices.  The first is a big tub where prisoners were locked face down in water.  The second is a bucket where prisoners were hung upside down under water until the passed out

 

DSC02329 DSC02327 DSC02326DSC02331

The last picture are some of the skulls found and the placards describe the causes of death based on the injuries.

Bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

Catching the bus was pretty simple.  There are travel agencies on just about every block and in many hotels.  We chose the one in our hotel.  This allowed us to have a much more comfortable wait in the restaurant than at some bus terminal.  It was about a dollar more though our hotel but much worth the extra expense.  DSC02264 DSC02266

It was about a six hour ride for about $6.

Helped neighbor dog Barkley surf in the Florida International Dog Surfing Championship

1004983_10152010977868523_1078599996_nToday was a lot of fun.  I helped my neighbor Reggie and her dog Barkley in a surf competition.  It was Barkley’s first time but he did great.  A fellow spectator, Mary let us use her stand up paddle board when Barkley was having trouble balancing on his short board.  He adapted to the board and waves very well.  Once we got him on and balanced, he was like a pro.  Barkley surfed in the first heat against the west-coast champion from California and came in second of four dogs.  He advanced into the second round but was too tired to compete.  The dog from California who has ten years experience and multiple championships ended up winning the event but Barkley did very good for his first time out.

Siem Reip Cambodia

Siem Reip is a city in Cambodia with a lot to offer.  By the river, there is a shopping district with hundreds of shops selling just about anything you can imagine.  Across the river in the Pub-street district, you will find hundreds of bars, restaurants and street vendors selling just about any cuisine you can imagine.  Shopping by day and plenty of night life too….but that’s not all.  There are seven temple sites in the area too.

DSC02149

Our journey began at the state park ticket office.  There are different tickets available depending on your plans.  They have anything from one-temple one-day tickets to all-temples seven-day tickets and anything in between.  We chose the All-Temple one day ticket.  We decided to see the most popular three temples and discussed the schedule with our driver.

DSC02150

Our Temple tour started at Angkor Wat.  This is the largest religious monument in the world.

DSC02154

Built in the early 12th century, the architecture and carvings are quite impressive.

DSC02158

This is a picture of the outer wall and the courtyard inside.

DSC02161DSC02166

These pictures are of the entrance to the inner courtyard.

DSC02165 DSC02162

Inside are hallways and buildings surrounding the inner courtyard.  Many of these contain Buddha statues and intricate carvings.

DSC02156DSC02157DSC02159DSC02173

Pictured above is one of four pits used for bathing prior to entering the inner most courtyard and inner temple.

DSC02178DSC02181

Though constantly under repair and maintenance, the inner-most courtyard is even more elaborate with its buildings and carvings.

DSC02179DSC02186

Pictured above is the inner-most temple and pictures below are views of the temple site from inside the temple.

DSC02197DSC02195

Angkor Don or Angkor Thom was the next temple on our tour. Maybe there is some confusion with our guide but I thought we were at Thom.  After researching the temple site online, I see this temple called many things including Prasat Bayon.  Either way, this is the temple with many faces.  It was very cool to be there in person.

 

DSC02212DSC02216DSC02218DSC02219DSC02220DSC02222

The last Temple on our tour was Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider temple).  This temple was also built in the 12th century but was abandoned and neglected in the 17th century.  It is quite impressive to realize that the trees growing through the walls are hundreds of years old.

 

DSC02228DSC02231DSC02234DSC02237DSC02238DSC02240DSC02242DSC02243

Pictured above is the famous tree pictured in Indiana Jones Temple of Doom and Tomb Raider movies.  The camera just doesn’t capture the scale of this tree.

 

DSC02246

This picture is from the other side and still doesn’t capture the whole tree.

 

 

DSC02248DSC02254

Organizations are restoring portions of the temple and securing portions that in jeopardy of falling.

 

DSC02257DSC02260

Seeing these temples is a very powerful experience.  For me, the sheer scope and detail is amazing.

 

 

 

DSC02261

At the end of our day, our Tuk-Tuk tour guide was waiting for us.  We were very relieved to see him after a long day of walking.

DSC02262

The end of the day was nice too.  Apparently, we were not the only people with sore feet.  There are dozens of foot massage places around Pub-Street.  Our one hour foot massage came with a cold beer for $3!

 

 

Thailand to Cambodia via Aranyaprathet, Thailand / Poipet, Cambodia border crossing

Transport from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia is pretty simple.  Follow the signs to the bus stop on the arrivals side of the airport.  Catch the next bus to Morochit station and buy your ticket to Aranyaprathet, Thailand there.  Prices are approximately $16 per person.  This was an “express bus” (16 passenger van) that departs when full.  From my experience, they depart every 15-20 minutes during business hours. There is one stop along the way prior to arrival at the border. My trip took about 2.5 hours because the driver was going pretty fast.  Some drivers may take longer.

The van will stop in front of a business that offers an expedited visa service.  I am not so sure it is necessary but I chose this option because their service was not much more than the visa cost.  In my case, the company helped with the paperwork and hand carried my passport through the process.  Their total time was about 20 minutes but they advised me of an hour wait in line for people who were not using a service.

Once you get your passport back, the company walked me the 100 yards to the boarder and shortly thereafter I was in Cambodia.

DSC02135

On the Cambodian side, there are swarms of people trying to provide taxi service to Siem Reap.  Ignore them and take the shuttle to the bus transport station for $1 or $2.  From there, the buses depart at regular intervals and cost under $9 for the 4 hour ride.

DSC02148

Many people advise that Cambodia does not use other currency.  Not true!  Avoid the poor exchange rates by making exchanges in Siem Reap at banks or other reputable companies.  US Dollars will work just fine until you get there.  As pictured, the currency is in small denominations and looks like a lot for under $100.

DSC02147

I hope this helps with your boarder crossing.  If you need any additional information, just ask your question in the comment box below.