A few more of Angkor even though you've seen enough.
This last one was a huge fountain and baths in its day. If you look closely you can see that its actually two snakes intertwined and eating each other... kewl. I'm thinking of getting one for the front yard when I get back.
Phenom Penh. When I went to the Killing Fields I wasn't going to take any pictures. However, when I got there I thought I'd take one photo for myself to remind me of how the history of this country moved me so much and the feelings it evoked. I looked at those skulls thinking of the faces in the photos I'd seen at the Prison and when you can put a face to this horror, it makes you ache. I wasn't going to put this picture up but changed my mind, not sure why. I saw news on this very subject today. Cambodians, as Buddhists, believe that a dead person's soul cannot be freed until they are cremated and by not undertaking the proper last rites, these souls live on the earth. The Government feels that these displays are necessary to remind the world of the terrible crimes and genocide that happened here. I can see both sides as I'd like the souls to be free but no one should forget this.
Anyhow, remember I mentioned a traffic jam. This was the cause of it, an overturned truck, it took us an hour to get to it. The insane thing about it, even though our tuk tuk was in a line of trucks, most Cambodians ride motos so there was absolute chaos as they mounted foot paths while performing fantastical feats of moto riding dexterity to get around it. We were stuck, in dusty 36 degree heat with the smoke from roadside food stalls wafting all over us. If you look closely, you can see the silly Barang (tourists) taking photos of it. I wasn't one of them, I was photographing them taking photos of the crash in a postmodern representation on the stupidity of tourism. Really. None of the locals pointed and laughed at me. Really. Not really.
This picture shows a little of the chaos but it was impossible to capture the insanity of it. The fun thing was that we ended up taking a back route which I think tourists rarely take so there were lots of strange looks from the local adults and lots of waving and "hellos" from kids. At this point, I had donned a scarf (a Kramie, a local all purpose Cambodian scarf) to protect me from the dust. Although Ruth had exactly the same look, little kids pointed and laughed at me. I don't know why, I thought I looked pretty cool. Photos of this phenomenon will have to come later.
Saigon: I finally got to read an Australian news paper and it was all good news. Howard behind in the polls, Howard forced to talk about David Hicks, those arsehole James Hardie executives charged for trying to get out of paying compensation to asbestos victims. ALL GOOD NEWS. I didn't get a photo of my favourite headline, over a picture of a dejected looking Australian cricket team, the headline read "HUMILIATED." Oh how I laughed... and laughed... even as I type this I'm still laughing.
We arrived just in time for Tet, the celebration of the new year and memorial of the Tet Offensive from the American War. The city was beautiful, flags and communist propoganda everywhere and dragons made out of oranges. We expected a big, big celebration. However, tet for us consisted of 15 minutes of fireworks, Abba's "Thank you for the music" being blasted at teeth shattering volume and then the city closing down for a week. That was pretty much it.
Well, not quite it. They had dragon dancers who went to banish bad spirits from local businesses. The bad spirits were represented by the guy in the mask. Oh yeah, those dragons beat the shit out of that guy.
Next up, the Reunification Palace. When the tanks rolled through the front gates in 1975, the President immediately gave up basically saying to the VC "here's the keys to the executive toilet... enjoy." He had only been in power for 43 hours because the previous head of state had seen the writing on the wall and to quote the song "got the fuck outta dodge." The place is a living relic as very little has been changed or moved since that day. Its like the place has stopped in time hence the desk still waiting for the Americans to phone saying they're sorry for invading and then abandoning the South Vietnamese to be slaughtered or live as second class citizens for the next twenty years (simplified version of complex politics).
It also had some of the president's possessions including his lucky elephant foot umbrella stands... eww!
They also had a section dedicated to international politicians who have visited the Palace including this guy "President of the Lower House of Australia, his excellency Bophanvercon." Good old Bop, he did some great work.
We also went to the War Remnants Museum which has very confronting images of the war such as photos of victims of napalm and agent orange. I don't know how tourists can react to it apart from thinking "my god, we were a bunch of arseholes." Anyhow, complex politics again made simple when they're not, I know, I know. I did like the section dedicated to peace and had examples of protests of the time and a number of peace gestures since then. This photo is from a protest in Sydney. Good on ya kids, you made me proud: war is indeed stupid, pointless, and fucked.
Sunset over Saigon. I'll have a mojito thanks...
We then moved onto Mui Ne which was basically 11km of beach with hotels and guesthouses along it. Its a bit of a hotspot for kite surfers because they get all the winds from the Phillipines apparently. This was the view from our beach front bungalow. Yes, beach front bungalow. I liked watching them but there was one guy who kept speeding in and jumping over anyone who was swimming. That guy was a dick.
Sunset over Mui Ne. More mojitos please.
Sunrise over Mui Ne. The one thing about this place is during the day it is the domain of sunburnt tourists and dickish kite surfers but at night the locals come out to fish the bay. They trawl from the shore and there are probably about eighty boats out in the bay. By the time the first lazy tourist has woken up they're long gone. It really is beautiful.
We left Mui Ne yesterday. It was nice to be a place where there wasn't much to do. We went to some amazing white sand dunes that reminded me of this video. I've been singing this song ever since. Sadly, the photos aren't ready to be put up yet. We're now in Dalat, a holiday town in the central highlands ("number 1 domestic tourist destination and honeymooner capital of Vietnam") that was not bombed during the American war because of an agreement between the VC and the Southern Vietnamese. Apparently both groups had chalets up here. The generals would come up for holidays and plan their next war strategies, often at the same time. Weird.