Things I wish I had done whilst in Cambodia

In true generation Y spirit, I have sort of worked out the new blogger layout in the 10 minutes since my last post. I knew I added "quick with technology" to my resume for a reason. And now for regular blogging to resume! Kidding! Life calls! Or more specifically,The New York Times is calling! They want me to be a contribute to their new web column- "ProcrastinationNation: Thoughts from uppity Gen Ys"

This post has been gathering dust in my drafts folder for too long so I thought I'd release it into cyberspace before it becomes completely irrelevant.

This picture of Saigon is substituting for a sinister picture of Cambodia that I do not have.

Things I wish I had done whilst in Cambodia:

- Dined at Pyongyang restaurant
- Eaten a fried spider
- Visited the killing fields

Pyongyang restaurant
I suppose I can go to bed with a clear conscience now, having refrained from purchasing a meal there and propping up the Kims. Jokes. That was the least of my worries. Case in point: I stole a plastic fork from a food court the other day so I'm really just as merciless as those top level dictators.

But really, I am still kicking myself for not visiting. What would be on the menu? Would the menu/walls/floor/ceiling be covered in Kim paraphernalia?

When in Rome, do as the romans do
This doesn't in fact apply to Cambodian people and fried spiders. It's mostly a novelty tourist thing to do. It's generally said that people only started eating spiders out of desperation and poverty during life under the Khmer Rouge so I don't think they would consume spiders in the way that Italians do pizza...

I was curious though. The fried spiders I saw were all soaked in garlic and being garlic's biggest fan- I LOVE GARLIC LIKE YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE, JUST SMELL MY BREATH- I was seriously tempted. But in the end, I chickened out. Funnily enough, upon returning to Australia and traversing travel blogs, I learned that fried spiders "taste a lot like chicken".

Have respect for the dead
Last year, Alice Pung came to my school and told us the story of her parents escape from Cambodia to Australia due to the devastating rule of Pol Pot. The killing fields and genocide was inevitably expanded on and she said all of this with a serene smile that made me slightly uncomfortable though that may have been because I was sitting front row, and besides, she was probably trying to distract herself from crying at the morbidity of the story by compensating with smiles. Or maybe people are right and South East asians just smile serenely all the time like a statue of Buddha because I know it certainly is a trait of mine. BUT I DIGRESS.

Anyway, her story really made me want to go to the killing fields, you know, to see this part of history (bleh, well that's a lame reason to visit a mass grave if I ever heard one). In the end, this did not happen for a number of reasons:

a) I was on tour with my parents and 8 other adults (who for the purpose of this exercise, will just refer to as family friends because I can not be bothered working out how my family is related to them). All of them, having grown up in Vietnam/Laos were superstitious and refused to step directly on bones (which you have to do in order to reach the fields.
b) a few of us were sick so that meant our "aura was weak" and susceptible to spirits...
c) it's disrespectful to walk on the dead and nobody wanted to anger them

Looking back, I don't know if not seeing the killing fields is a regret. Walking on bones does seem disrepectful...And hearing about the horror of the genocide is kind of enough...there is something just too eerie about doing a 'tour' to a mass open grave...


cavaan said...

Would it be similar to visiting a peace memorial? It's good to be aware of history, and see it close. (Just don't pull a shoot there ha)

And of course it would heavily depend on where the money from the 'tours' go towards. - if there are even tours for these things? ! what!

Everything 'taste like chicken' these days, why!

Rach said...

Weird how everyone seemed to transitioned to the new blogger interface overnight but I swear we were using it since last October or something and I thought it was so much better! (unlike FB's timeline)

I guess visiting the killing fields is supposed to make you feel/learn strong...things? And the whole just hearing about something v experiencing with all senses. But I wonder why they built the footpath over the graves...

Anyway, thanks for the midnight lols

emsydo said...

i think tourism is a sizeable part of cambodia's income so i can understand why they would be happy to make anything tourist friendly. not sure whether you have to pay to visit or anything though, as we didn't go.
also, i think it's more of an open grave than war memorial though of course people would go to pay respects. and you literally have to walk on bones to visit.