Friday, October 31st, 2003 – Day 255

Friday, October 31st, 2003 – Day 255

I was up at 7.00am even thought I go little sleep. This room has got worse every day. Nice TV, bed etc, but thre is no ventilation. Theres a window that opens onto the hall. I suppose, for 8 USD per night I cant complain. I walked to the Capitol Guesthouse where big crowds of locals and tourists were waiting for various buses to destinations all over Cambodia. My bus was a big one (46 seater) that was full to thee brim. There were only 4 or 5 tourists. It was supposed to be an eight hour trip.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Phnom Penh Petrol Station. These are on every corner. Petrol in Fanta and Johnny Walker Bottles to serve the millions of motor bikes. (31-10-2003)

We made two stops on the trip for toilet and food. I had expected the road to be far worse and maybe it would in wet conditions. About 50% of the road was paved. Some hard bumps and big pot holes. There is a boat to Siem Reap but to save three hours (the boat is 22 USD) is hardly worth it. You may be able to get a ticket for 18-20 USD if you look about.

At the first stop at Skuon, I had an opportunity to witness and eat the “spiders” of Skoun which are edible tarantula, also known as “ka ping” in Khmer. There are 4/5 girls selling these fried 8 legged spiders (fried). They are quite tasty (especially when they are just freshly cooked).

For those who never tried them, they taste creamy and crunchy and very addictive. They are eaten like appetizer or snack only. These edible insects are meant for the adventurous, and they could be quite an anthropological and cultural experience.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Skuon Spider (31-10-2003)

Te journey was fine compared to some of the 15-20 hour mountain journeys I have taken in South America. Indeed we arrived in Siem Reap about 3.00pm which made it only a seven hour journey.

I took a Moto (1,000 Riels) to my chosen Hostel called Smileys. Its a big fan room with a shower, balcony for 5 USD per night. A real nice clean professional hostel. You leave your shoes at reception.

The ruins of the ancient city of Angkor, capital of the Khmer kingdom from 802 until 1295, are one of the world’s marvels. The largest religious monument ever constructed, it’s a vast and mysterious complex of hulking laterite and sandstone blocks. Unknown to the world until French naturalist Henri Mouhot literally stumbled onto it in 1861, the area of Angkor existed for centuries only as a myth — a wondrous city (or cities, to be exact), its exact location in the Cambodian jungle unknown.

The temple complex covers some 96.6 sq. km (60 sq. miles) and carries the remains of passageways, moats, temples, and palaces that represent centuries of building in the capital. The temples are served by the nearby town of Siem Reap, some 6km (3 1/2 miles) to the south.

A three- or four-day visit there will suffice (though many do it in fewer), and many come away with a newfound love for ancient cultures, Asian religions, and sunsets.

Anyway if you buy your ticket in the evening (after 5.00pm) for the next day you can ente and get a free sunset at 5.30-6.00pm. Entrance fees for Angkor Wat are as follows: A 1-day ticket is US$20, a 3-day ticket is US$40, and a 1-week ticket is US$60. All tickets include all the sites within the temple compound, as well as Banteay Srei, to the north, and the outlying temples of the Roluos Group. I forgot my photo for 3 thre day pass Identity Card but they will give you a free instant photo camera. There were two ques of new arrivals and the one day pass quene was about 3 times ours. It would be toug going to see everything in 1 day but that is all many people have.

I paid 2 USD for a driver to take me to the ticket booth , wait and drive me to Phnom Bakeng to see the sunset. Its about 8km from town. Its was very crowded, but the views from Phnom Bakeng (Bakeng Hill) are excellent. It’s a good little climb up the hill, and those so inclined can go by elephant (mainly Japs) for 11 USD. It was a good sunset and I enjoyed it. I stayed until it got dark.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Phnom Bakeng. People are like Zombies watching Sun set. (31-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Phnom Bakeng. (31-10-2003)

I ha an early night as I made the moto driver promise he would be at my gusthouse at 5.15am in order to drive me to see the sunset at Ankor at 5.30am.

Thursday, October 30th, 2003 – Day 254

Thursday, October 30th, 2003 – Day 254

I bought my ticket to Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat) from Capitol Gesthouse today for four USD. I was surprised as it was one of only 4 seats that were left. As it is a National Holiday this weekend, many are headed up there for a break. Angkor Wat is like Mecca to the Cambodians. They all want to make it there at least once in their lives.

I did very little today. I went to the market and bought a photcopy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Vietnam for 3 USD. I also went to the Tonle Sap lake (10 minute moto drive) to watch Sunset. I vsited a Mosque and the PP Railay Station.

There were fireworks around 8.00pm to celebrate the Kings Birthday. There will be more music and celebrations tomorrow and Saturday. The ciy is quie lively. They have put fairy lights on every available bush and tree in the whole city.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

A temple picture from the street. (30-10-2003)

The Cambodia-Vietnam Monument in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is often defaced with tar and set ablaze by protestors. The Cambodia-Vietnam Monument, dedicated to the supposedly unbreakable friendship that links the two peoples. Unfortunately not all Cambodians agree with this sentiment, and the monument has been attacked and even set on fire with petrol at times of political tension. Signs of damage are clearly visible to the head of one of the soldiers, though no-one seems to be really sure which soldier is Vietnamese and which Cambodian!

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Vietnam – Cambodia Frienship Monument (30-10-2003)

Designed by Khmer architect Van Molyvann, Independence Monument commermorateds the end of Cambodia’s rule by France in 1953. The naga or snake-motifis one which can be seen in contexts, as a symbol of the country. The distinctive modern Cambodian architectural style of the monument can also be seen at Olympic Stadium and Chatomuk Hall, located near the Royal Palace along the Tonle Sap River.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Cambodia Independence Monument (30-10-2003)

Tonle Sap is the world’s largest inland freshwater lake. There is a water festival on between the 6th and 11th of November to celebrate it.

Celebrating the reversed current of the Tonle Sap River that connects the Tonle Sap Lake with the Mekong. For most of the year the river flows out from the lake into the Mekong. However, during the rainy season from about June to October the Mekong rises, causing the Tonle Sap River to flow in reverse and the lake to swell to more than twice its regular size. At the end of the rainy season, when the water level of the Mekong drops again, the current reverts and flows back into the Mekong.

The level of the Mekong rises so much at the end of the rainy season that water from this river is forced up into the Tonle Sap Lake some 100 kilometers inland from Phnom Penh. The festival itself has religious elements, but centers around three days of fireworks displays and traditional boat races on the river.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Penh Tonle Sap lake (30-10-2003)

As my bus was leaving at 7.30am, I had an early night.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003 – Day 253

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003 – Day 253

I was up really late. I awoke at 9.00am but did not leave my room until 1.00pm becayse I was watching American Pie 2. Not good. I enjoyed 1 and 3 alot more. I felt bad staying in so late but these windowless rooms make it so easy. Daylight never shines in during morning.

Indeed its strange all round. I have passed trough PP three or four times while going to Vietnam and have always used hotels and good restaurants. Maybe 20 USD for a hotel etc., so its strange moving down market. Imagine if you were always used to use motels, restaurants etc at home and suddenly had to use hostels and fast food beacause budget required it. You would feel strange. Ahh, Poor me. I so deprived. All in jest. Many locals sleep on the streets here and amny amputees from landmines. I must keep it in perspective. Middle class white men on holiday in a 3rd World Country, eh. God help us.

As I felt bad for doing nothing I walked down to the hotel that my old moto friend Mr. Lin hangs out. All moto drivers have their own turf and stay thee. There are not allowed park in front of other peoples areas which are street corners, restaurants and hotels etc.

Anyway I gave him a list of three religious sites in PP that I have not visited before and off we set.

It took about three hours to cover them as they were all close by.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Moha Montrei (29-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Moha Montrei (29-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Moha Montrei (29-10-2003)

Wat Ounalom is the most important Wat of Phnom Penh, and the center of Cambodian Buddhism. It is north from the National Museum of Arts (two streets from the Royal Palace). Wat Ounalom was built in 1443 to keep a hair of the Buddha. Before the Khmer Rouge emptied Phnom Penh in 1975, more than 500 monks used to live at the Wat. The Khmer Rouge killed the abbot and a large number of monks and vandalized the buildings and their treasures. After the Vietnamese invasion on 1979 the Wat was restored, and today again serves as the center of Cambodian Buddhism.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Ounalom (29-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Ounalom (29-10-2003)

Wat Phnom: On a hill in the northern part of Phnom Penh lies Wat Phnom, after which the Cambodian capital is named. The Wat was built in 1372 and was restored or reconstructed in 1434, 1890, 1894 and 1926. Wat Phnom is much favoured by the inhabitants of the city as it is considered the most appropriate place for prayer and small offerings, given in order to influence one’s own fate.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Phnom (29-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Phnom (29-10-2003)

I read about a shooting in the Cambodia Daily on main street last night at 11.00pm. Four 4X4’s were driving fast down the sreet when one of them hit a parked truck. One of the passengers who was drunk got out and started firing at people in passing cars and people on the street. Three people were killed and 5 injured before his friends in the other vehicles stopped hime. They removed the licence plate of the crashed vehicle and headed off firing AK47s into the air. The paper said even though they know the young man who was the son of a high ranking official in all likelihood nothing would be done. It goes on all the time here. i remember the last time I was here. Some one steeped on the toe of a high ranking oficials son, so he shot hime in the head. An other incident a few days later, someone threw a hand grenade into a disco.

The paper says nothing is even done beacuse of the influence of their fathers.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003 – Day 252

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003 – Day 252

I got up at 9.00am but I love film and its ahrd to leave the telly as they show all the latest pirated movies. i watched parts of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Totally crap story, plot and acting but Nia Vardalos saves the day. The boyfriend Ian (John Corbett) is so crap.

I stopped by theCentral Market

This Art Deco behemoth, built in 1937, is a city landmark and, on any given day, a veritable ant hill of activity. The building is a towering rotunda with busy wings extending in four directions. The eastern entrance is the best spot to find T-shirts, hats, and all manner of trinkets and souvenirs, as well as photocopy bootlegs of popular novels and books on Cambodia. Goldsmiths and watch repair and sales counters predominate in the main rotunda, and you can find some good deals. Spend some time wandering the nooks and crannies, though, and you’re sure to come across something that strikes your fancy, whether that’s a chaotic hardware shop, a cobbler hard at work with an awl, or just the cacophony and carnival-barker shouts of salesman and haggling shoppers. Be sure to bargain for any purchase.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Central Market (28-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Central Market (28-10-2003)

I then took a moto taxi to the Russian Market between streets 440 and 450 in the far south of town.

It is where the real deal on souvenirs can be had. They’ll see you comin’ a mile away, and it requires some hard haggling to get the good deals on neat items like ancient-looking opium paraphernalia, carvings, and ceramic. It’s all authentic-looking, even if made in China.

The Russian Market in the south end of town is comparable and equally worth a visit (it’s a good stop on the return trip from The Killing Fields).

I purchased a belt (2 USD), a pair of sunglasses (1 USD) and a photcopy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Cambodia (2 USD). Thats the funny thing. I break the law everyday with pirated branded goods. Ah well.

I went back into town and ran across my old moto driver friend Mr. Lin. I used hime a few years ago during a visit. A driver (there are million of motor bike taxi drivers here) will earn an average of 1,000 Riel (.25 Euro) a trip. I paid Mr. Lin 5 USD to be my driver from 9-5. He took me down to the shops, attractions, pubs and waited outside. On average a deiver may get a few drives per day. Talking to people at the markets, they say Cambodia is going doenhill again. They say visitors/tourists have decreased dramatically since last year. They blame people worrying over the elections (still not sorted out) and political violence. All the shop keepers and drivers are saying the same thing. I would have expected more people to visit, but it seems not. Anyway, Mr. Lin who drove me once last year spotted me out of a crowd. We chatted for a while. Its a nice old guy with a big family to support.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Wat Koh – Its one of PP’s oldest Pagodas (28-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

The night is coming. Main Street PP (28-10-2003)

I went for a bite to eat. More frogs (which came full bodies this time) so it was hard to take them apart. I feel bad when i cant use chop sticks properly or I do not know the exact procesures to eat. They give you bowls, spoons etc. Even so, I read recently that chopsticks can be harmful

Eating with chopsticks everyday increases the risk of developing the painful condition osteoarthritis, scientists say.

I saw a CNN article on blogs today. Its about a Hong Kong placed blog called Two million people have visited his site which is siimply about his life as an expat in Hong Kong.

There are over 4 million blogs on the net, more than half run by teenagers. Research group Perseus says the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who updates it about twice a month.

There are predictions the net will be littered with 5 million blogs by the end of the year.

But unlike most of them will be little seen, if not abandoned. At least two thirds of the blogs out there today have not been updated in months.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Cartoon from the Guardian newspaper (28-10-2003)

I will stay around until the 31st as some festivals are approaching.

  • 30th Oct – 1st Nov His Majesty King Sihanouk’s Birthday

  • 9th Nov Independence Day (Weekend holiday, officially celebrated on Monday, Nov 11th.)

  • 7th-9th Nov Water Festival / Boat Races

Monday, October 27th, 2003 – Day 251

Monday, October 27th, 2003 – Day 251

I was so lazy this morning. i watched TV far too late last nigt. That with the fact I had been to PP before (3 times) made me want to watch BBC world news and the Film Airheads. I did not leave the guesthouse until 11.30am after a shower and putting my passport into a safe. I walked to the Capitol guesthouse and had breakfast. It was OK.

i then took a moto taxi to the Russian market. this is where you can buy clothes, food, pirate DVD,a ntiques etc. i bought 4 dressing gowns for the brothers/Sisters last year but they never wore them 🙂 I look at the Malaysian imported DVD’s un til 1.30pm. I decided to go back to the Capitol Guesthouse in order to go on a 2.00pm tour to the Killing Fields 17km away. There were a family of three with me on the tour. A son with his parents from england. they were over for his marriage to a local girl. The tour was only 2 USD with a guide.

The Killing Fields,” Choeung Ek Memorial

Originally a Chinese cemetery before becoming the execution grounds for the Khmer Rouge during their maniacal reign under Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979, the site is a collection of mounds, mass graves, and a towering monument of catalogued human skulls. It’s often visited in conjunction with a tour of Tuol Sleng.

They know ovr 8,000 were buried here. They have the skulls as evidence. All the skulls are damaged by club, hammer or gun attack. it was 2 USD in. It was moving. The road to/From the killing fields has got far worse than the last time I was here. It was body breaking. One hour each way on something less than a dirt track with millions of holes. I dont know how the van lasted.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

The Killing Fields – Choeung Ek Memorial (27-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

The Killing Fields – Choeung Ek Memorial (27-10-2003)

We got bus back into town.

I then walked to Tuol Sleng, Museum of Genocide. It was 4.00pm, so i only had an hour here. it was 2 USD in.

The grounds of this high-school-turned-prison-and-torture-chamber are like they were in 1979 at the end of Cambodia’s bloody genocide. The whole impression of the atrocities committed at the site is visceral, too much for some visitors. From 1975 until 1979, an estimated 17,000 political prisoners, most just ordinary citizens, were torturedat Tuol Sleng and died, or were executed in the nearby Killing Fields. If you don’t come with a guide, you’ll certainly want to hire one at the entrance, although you’re free to roam the grounds on your own. Local guides often have personal experience with the prison and are vital sources of oral history. They are open to questions, but go easy on any debate. Recrimination against the arbiters of these horrible events is an important issue here; just as Cambodians hope to move on into the future, they fear revisiting the past in international tribunals. The prison population of Tuol Sleng, also known as S-21, was carefully catalogued; in fact, the metal neck brace employed for holding subjects’ heads in place for the admitting photograph is on display. There are some written accounts in English, paintings done by a survivor, and gory photos of the common torture practices in the prison, but perhaps what is most haunting is the fear in the eyes of the newly arrived; one wing of the buildings is dedicated to these very arrival photos. There was also an interesting exhibit of “Where are they now?” photo-essays and information about former guards, what they looked like then, what happened, and where they are now (only 7 prisoners survived). This site is a bit overwhelming for some, so be prepared.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Sleng, Museum of Genocide (27-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Sleng, Museum of Genocide (27-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Sleng, Museum of Genocide (27-10-2003)

I tell you what, the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot were some feckers. I insist you visit the Prison Website at

It was 5.30pm when i left and I walked 35 minutes abck to the city centre where I stopped at a restaurant for a bite to eat. i had fried rice with Beef and a plate of frogs (no typo here) in ginger and two large bees for 6 USD. The greatest invention in Cambodia is the beer girls.

Every bar, restaurant you go into you are swamped by 10 girls each represnting a different brand of beer from local Anchor to Heineken. They massage you ego (rich men love Heinken) until you buy their brand (they get commission). great idea. i would not mind a slinky thing in a black cocktail dress trying to get me to buy Beamish Stout at home. One problem is that give dropping ice cubes in to your beer with out asking.

i headed abck to the guesthouse around 11.45pm. Its strange as there are only 2/3 paved roads in the city and only 2 have street lighting. I am only 3 blocks from the main street but thaqt means walking three blocks on an unpaved, unlit road with gets quite after 9.00pm. You ahve to be careful in PP.

I watched some rugby on TV before sleep.

Saturday, October 25th, 2003 – Day 249 to Sunday, October 26th, 2003 – Day 250

Saturday, October 25th, 2003 – Day 249

I had TOO much to drink last night. Why, I do not know as I had to get up early this morning to get to the Thai/Cambodian boarder before it closed. It was 2.00am (not too sure) when I got home. I slept past two alarm clocks until at 8.30am I got up. In a bit of a rush I headed to the Eastern Bus station to buy a 147 BT ticket to Trat.

I had though this took four to 4.5 hours but it was nearly 6 hours. It was a pleasant and comfortable journey (although I was hungover) to Trat. From Trat I got a mini bus to the boarder (100 BT). Its a place called Hat Lek and its where you pass into Koh Kong, Cambodia. It was 5.00pm when I got there and the Border Hours are: 7:00AM – 5:00PM. The first time I made this crossing there was no bridge between Hat Lek and Koh Kong. You can to take a 10 minute ride on a speed boat. Courtesey of the Japanese government one of the longest bridges in Asia has been built (11 BT toll) which makes things a lot easier.

  • Bus from Bangkok to Trat (147 baht)

  • Van from Trat to the Thai border town of Had Lek (100 baht). Departs every 30 minutes or so.

  • Buy your visa and walk into Cambodia.

  • If you are going to take the road, touts and drivers will approach you as soon as you cross the border. I paid 30 bt for the 15 drive to Koh Kong.

More information on the crossing can be found here.

Cambodian visas cost 1000B for a 30-day tourist visa in theory. I hate the Cambodian border officials. They are So corrupt. Every time I pass through here its the same. Its all efficient when you exit Thailand and then you see these shacks when Cambodian guys in white string vests and guns. They have been known to illegally fine you for not have a health certificate, malaria tablets, a photograph etc.

I signed a SARS free form and the official asked me for 50 bt. Not a lot but illegal. I told him no and walked off. Nothing said. I ten went to buy my visa. The immigration officials in string vests demanded 1300 baht for the new sticker type visa. The real price is 1000 bt. It seems they are pocketing $10 usd per visa.

I complained and told them I had contacted the Cambodia embassy yesterday to confirm the price. They then said 1200 Bt. I said no. By then a large group had gathered and they were poking at my bags and inspecting all of my passport stamps. They then said 1100 Bt. I did not want to push them any more so I agreed. I then got a moto taxi into town for 30 bt. I booked into the Rasmey Makara Hotel for 10 USD. It had a bath and cable TV and air-con.

I walked around town and had a bite to eat at Otto’s Restaurant . I had chicken with noddles. There are a lot of expats here who have been here for years. They have state or army pensions and are mostly Swedish or German. They re here for the cheap drugs and women. Koh Kong is a wild west town. Its where the smugglers hang out, where outlaws from Thailand are, where Thai people come to gamble and where it is said the best drugs in SE. Asia are grown.

You can buy a big bag of marijuana costs 5 USD. Big enough for a month. In many guesthouses, they give it out FREE. In Ottos, all these guys with long hair were stoned out of their head.

I watched parts of the Liverpool V Leeds game, the Manchester United V Fulham game and a film called 13 ghosts.

Koh Kong is a quaint and interesting border village that shouldn’t be missed. Stop and enjoy us while traveling through SE Asia. Villages like Koh Kong are getting very rare nowadays. Children say hello, ice is cut by hand and although life is slow it is very enjoyable.

Lots of Karaoke clubs, massage parlor’s here. Had to be up early tomorrow.

Foreign Office (14 October 2003) regarding Cambodia.

Your greatest risks are from road traffic accidents; armed robbery after dark; landmines and unexploded ordnance in rural areas. Public order is fragile. You should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks by terrorists in public places, including tourist sites, throughout South East Asia, including Cambodia. Medical insurance is strongly recommended.

Sunday, October 26th, 2003 – Day 250

I was up at 8.00am and took a moto (20 bt) to the docks where I bought a ticket to I had been before. The price was 600 Bt. You can take a 4X4 to Phnom Penh now but as it was raining last night it might take up to 10 hours.

  • I have taken the boat before (last June 02). It was a nightmare. I should have known as the boat was only ha;d full. Its light a plane fuselage. Its a long narrow boat with only one exit/entry point up front. There are 6 seats across (3 to the left and 3 to the right of the passage). Its totally tomb like enclosed. You would not want to be clautopphobic. About 1 hour in, we encountered fierce waves. I mean really bad. Every 3 minutes we had to cut engines to leave the big waves pass underneath (the boat is a speedy one). Everyone got sick from the ticket sellers, locals and tourists. People were praying and holding hands. It went for 4-5 hours. You could not see out the windows because of the swells. We though we were lucky to be alive. Hopefully its will be better his time as I saw many fishing boats heading out to sea.

  • I took the 4X4 option from Phnom Penh to Kong Kong last year as well. The road was built by the Thai military and was just opened. Before the road from the rest of Cambodiana and the bridge from Thailand were opened last year Koh Kong was landlocked. The journey was bad. None of the road was paved and its all over dirt tracks. If the roads get wet its impossible. We had to pass 4 rivers with no bridges. The truck goes from the river bank onto 10 planks of wood placed on 3 3 canoes and powered by a stuck on engine. This is now we crossed. We got stuck a few times on the river banks as there are no piers. Any how they pack people in. There were 4 people in the front seat with me. It took 10 hours.

Anyway the sea was calm and we got to Sihanoukville. Its the ONLY cambodian sea resort and its a dump (although the beaches can be OK). Very run down and sleazy.

‘Beach town’, ‘port community’, ‘fledgling resort destination’ – all describe Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s premier beach town. Sihanoukville’s white sand beaches and warm Gulf of Thailand waters combine with a laid back, beachy atmosphere to provide a great little tropical getaway. Sihanoukville is a place to relax by the beach, enjoy the fresh from-the-ocean seafood, take in a snorkeling or scuba trip, and generally slow-down, unwind and chill-out.

I stayed in the town last year for one night, had one meal and puked my guts up.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Sihanoukville (26-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Sihanoukville (26-10-2003)

it was noon (after the four hour boat ride) and I took a moto 2,000 Riels to the capitol guesthouse to get the 12.30 bus to Phnom Penh. It took 4 hours to get there. It was a fine ride (the road was paid by the Japs) and we had one dinner stop.

We got to the Capitol guesthouse at 4.00pm. I know Phnom Penh quite well but I have usually stayed in the Paris or Lucky Hotel (which a bomb exploded in 2 weeks after I left killing three) which are about 20 USD. I decided to head down market tonight. I simply walked to the Phnom Penh Villas (8 USD for a bed with cable, bath).

I headed into town for a bite to eat and use the NET. I bought the Phnom Penh Post newspaper and read it.

Phnom Penh

Founded in the mid-14th century by the Khmers as a monastery, Phnom Penh replaced Angkor Thom a century later as the country’s capital and has long been a vital trading hub at the confluence of three rivers: the Mekong, Tonle Sap, and Bassac. Perhaps the city’s most auspicious history was actually when it lay vacant; following an eviction order from Pol Pot, the city was deserted in a period of hours, and almost all of Phnom Penh’s residents moved to the countryside in 1975, not to return until 1979 under the authority of Vietnamese troops.

It has been a long road to the peaceful and growing Phnom Penh of today. There were many years of frontier-style anarchy after the city was repopulated. Drugs and prostitution are still a big downtown commodity, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be caught in the crossfire, something you couldn’t say 4 or 5 years ago. Today Phnom Penh enjoys its own kind of harmony of opposites and offers visitors peaceful moments of a sunset at riverside as well as dusty, motorbike-choked labyrinthine alleys. The city is an incongruous cluster of crumbling French colonials, and the central riverside area has a pace all its own that’s great for wandering.

There’s also much to see of historic interest in Phnom Penh. Its Royal Palace is a stone showpiece of classical Khmer architecture, and the Silver Pagoda, on the palace grounds, is a jewel-encrusted wonder. Throughout the city, you’ll see the faded glory of aged French colonial architecture. There are also four notable wats, religious temples with resident monks.

Of more grisly interest is the Tuol Sleng, or Museum of Genocide, a schoolhouse-turned-prison where up to 20,000 victims of Pol Pot’s excesses were tortured before being led to the Cheoung Ek, otherwise known as “The Killing Fields,” about 16km (10 miles) from Phnom Penh. It’s a town certainly worth exploring for a few days.

Some new good. ireland beat Argentina today in a tight match in the rugby World Cup.

It is still not a stable country. Political Violence is rife. A Cambodian pop star was shot in face a few days ago.

A Cambodian pop star with ties to one of the country’s political parties is fighting for her life in a hospital in the Thai capital Bangkok. Touch Sunnich was evacuated to Thailand on Wednesday, after she was shot in the face by four men on motorbikes. The attempted assassination of the singer led students to hold impromptu vigils in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Touch Sunnich is closely identified with the royalist FUNCINPEC party, mainly through her rendition of its party song.

Observers have linked the shooting of the singer to the assassination last Saturday of another public figure associated with FUNCINPEC. The radio journalist, Chou Chetharith, was shot in the head in broad daylight. He worked for the party station in Phnom Penh, the director of which is a FUNCINPEC adviser

More news of the curent political instability can be found here and here.

Ah Ah, i did get to see the Argentina v ireland game. it was on ESPN at 12.30 at night. it was the Full game and not just high lights. Good game. Pirty, i already knew the score. I watched aprt of the England V Samoa game before I fell asleep.

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003 – Day 246 to Friday, October 24th, 2003 – Day 248

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003 – Day 246

I was up at 9.00am. I slept only a little last night as the room has only a prefabricated wall. Two blokes in a twin room next door were chatting mad. I walked to Lavender station as I thought I would have enough credit on my metro card. It took 20 minutes. I then took the metro to the airport. I was there 2.5 ahead of take off, but I like airports. I found a movie lounge and settled into watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (which was poor) and read the Straits Times Newspaper. I like Cathy pacific for the free newspapers. I got the Financial times and Wall Street Journal. The inflight entertainment was the same as the Jakarta-Singapore flight. I watched a funny episode of the 70’s show (which mimicked Vertigo, Psycho and other horror movies) and a episode of Mr. Bean.

I was in Bangkok by 3.50pm but had to wait one hour for a public bus to take me into town. It was nearly 5.00pm before I found a hotel with a room. I tried 4/5 others. I wanted a bit of luxury for 2 nights as I need a good nights sleep. I paid 1,000 Bt for a luxury apartment including breakfast. That included tax and service. Its called the Nanatai Mansion.

I watched some of the Argentina V Romania Rugby game on TV and lots of BBC World News which I like. I did not go down town until 8.00pm. I wanted a bite to eat. I love Thai green curry with chicken and potatoes.

Nothing to report for the rest of the night. I am back in Bangkok again – shit. I had a few beers, but I I have lost a bit of gra (love) for the city. When I first came here (in 1998) it was my first visit to Asia and the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was exciting. They say (and its true) that you either love or hate Bangkok. I loved it. It was brash, loud, smelly, hot. You meet the strangest people here. All sorts of farnag (Western men) come and stay here. I remember guys coming into the bars. One was so old he used two walking sticks to get into the bar and left with two Thai girls on each arm on the way out.

I met a man who had brought his blind brother (blind from birth) to Thailand to find a wife. I met an English guy ( a sailor) who had troubles every night. He was in the same hotel. On the first night, he had brought home a girl while drunk only to find out she was a he. On the second night he brought home a different girl who stole all his money. He had a brain wave. He had secretly taped their encounter on a cam corder. He brought it to a police station who stole the tape and said they were going to publish it on VCD/DVD for his stupidity. I would not get involved with the girls here, even if I could aford it. They are all hardcore (many of them are so old, you can imagine them been around since Vietnam). Of course that’s how the reputation started. Bangkok was the R&R location for US Soldiers during Vietnam and that’s how the tourist industry started. Many of the hotels in the city were built in the 70’s to cater for the soldiers.

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I am back in Bangkok (22-10-2003)

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003 – Day 247

Little news today. I have been to every temple, tourist attraction, dog house and bar in Bangkok before and its old to me. I want to leace ASAP to Cambodia. I will scan post some old photos here after I get back (of previous visits) but I am not goung to revsit all the attractions in bangkok for the sake of this blog!!

Anyway I have had a sore tooth some and again over the past month and decided to visit the dentist. In all honesty I have had litle experience of denal work. I remember going as a child (maybe 16) and I am sure (they may shock) that I did not pay and visit to any dentist between 1990 and 2001. Sad but true. I never had reason to visit even though in the early 90’s I rarely brushed my teeth. I never got into the habit of manintining and loking after them. i remember a dentist, gave me blue dye tablets to chew every night (to turn my teeth blue) in order to force me to brush but I still did not.

The first time I went to a dentist was in Bankok in June last year before I headed to vietnam. After an exam, all I had to get was 2 fillings. They were impressed. Sure, my teeth aint white (far from it) but my teeth and gums were still in good nick.

Anway I rang them again at 9.00am this morning and aranged a exam at 10.00am. I rushed down to the metro and as I knew where it was was, I was able to get there with 10 minues to spare.

Dental Hospital, Sukhumvit Soi 49

Dental Hospital has 24 dental treatment rooms, including diagnostic and treatment planning room, operating room, admitting facilities, dental laboratory and other services.

Noe this is no corner shop. This place is top range, 3 floors of pain but professionala nd clean. I headed in for a exam and an x-ray of my teeth (it was good value). this is my first x-ray (dental record) so I might get them to send it abck to my dentist in Ireland (not that i ahve one yet). Bad new regarding fillings.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

I hate dentists (23-10-2003)

There were 3 fillings that were needed to be filled. In addition there were 3 old fillings from my childhood that would need to be replaced within a year (no hurry) and 5 small cavities unseen to the naked eye but wee picked up by the x-ray. Bugger, I decided to do a few of the more urgent ones today and do the others at home.

The exam, x-ray and consultation took 30 minutes. i waited for 5 and headed for a cleaning (1,200 bt). The cleaning was to minisise teh chance of gum disease. that took 30 minutes and there was a lot of scraping. Uggg. I eaded straight accross to another room for 3 fillings which took only 30 minutes. That was OK.

Still, with the waiting and work, it took 3 hours. I was unable to eat for another four so I headed to Pantip Plaza where pirated DVD’s etc are to be found.

It was a pale imitation of last year where all wares were publically on view. They were banished as the crackdown reached here. There were some sellers in he back rroms fronted by antique shops with some sellers with lists. Still, a bit messy. News of the rackdown can be found here.

The government’s next target was Tawanna Centre. Four other centres of pirated products, owned by other interests, would also be targeted. These would be the Mahboonkrong Centre in downtown Bangkok, and one outlet each in Si Racha, Nonthaburi and Khlong Thom.

Anyway i headed to the bus stationa fter that to check on buses to Southern thaialnd (Trat) in order to get into Cambodia. Tickets were 147 Bt but would were on sale only on the day of departure. After that i ate close to the station. It was nice stall food for 30 bt. It started to rain so i headed abck down town for a beer and to watch the Japan – Fiji game.

I went to a food court around 8.00pm and ate.

I was planning to stay in Thailand for 2 days (and leave tomorrow) but I did not

know that all banks were closed today (thurs) for a national holiday. i was

unable to get the US currency i need for Cambodia and Vietnam. You have to

leave here at 8.00am to get to the thai boarder before closing. Beacuse I have

to wait for the bank to open, I can not leave now until Saturday.

I went back to the hotel and had an early night. The hotel plays pirated films (using VD) on a a TV chaneel throughout the day and night. i watched 8 Mile until 1.00am before falling asleep.

Friday, October 24th, 2003 – Day 248

I stayed in bed until late watching About a Boy with Hugh Grant on TV. Indeed I did not leave until noon. I checked out as I was moving to a cheaper hotel called the Orchid Inn down the road. It was 400 bt less for the same facilities etc (air-con, cable).

I headed to the Bankok Bank Branch close by to buy US currency for Cambodia. There are no cash machines in cambodia so its all US greenbacks. It took forever when forms, waits etc. After that I headed back to Pantip Plaza. A bit better luck this time. it seems it was bad news to sell illegal copies during the APEC meeting when Bush JNR was about but things are getting a bit better now. I only bought 3 films. They are far cheaper in Vietnam and China.

Monday, October 20th, 2003 – Day 244 to Tuesday, October 21st, 2003 – Day 245

Monday, October 20th, 2003 – Day 244

Happy Birthday to me. Yes, its true. I am 31 today. I woke up with a bad stomach ache which led to a 2 quick visits to the toilet. Not a good start. The owner of the guest’s wanted to give me Chinese herbal medicine. I declined and said if things did not improve, I would take it. Went back to bed until noon. I felt better. I sent a parcel home from the post office (air mail). I am tired of sending stuff home on surface which may take 2-3 months.

I walked to the main bus station and bought a ticket to Singapore for 13.75 R for tomorrow morning at 11.00am. It should take about 4.5 hours to get there. My flight to Bangkok is on the 22nd.

I have always thought to myself about snoring. its a bane to me as I can not abide snorers. I have also found since I have started traveling that asians are the main culprits. Not a racial slur so i looked it up in google today. it seems its true. Apparently the facial structure of Asians is such that snoring and sleep apnea problems are magnified.

In other news, Koreans have surgery to speak better English. Chop a centimetre or so off your tongue and become a fluent English speaker.

Those who have a short frenulum (a strap of tissue linking the tongue to the floor of the mouth) can face problems pronouncing some characters due to a disturbance in lateral movements of the tongue,” said Bae Jung-ho, an oral surgeon at Seoul’s Yonsei Severance Hospital, who operated on a six-year-old last month.

I did nothing today. It was my birthday after all. i walked around the city. purchased a few games, a few DVD’s, a little bit of software. This is a big city although all the sites are in the city centre. They have lots of museums but I did not visit any. They include:

  • Stadthuys – The Museums of History & Ethnography and the Museum of Literature

  • The Cultural Museum (Muzium Budaya)

  • The Maritime Museum and the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum

  • The People’s Museum, the Museum of Beauty, the Kite Museum, and the Governor of Melaka’s Gallery

  • The Youth Museums and Art Gallery

I see the melting of glaciers in the Patagonian ice fields of southern Argentina and Chile has doubled in recent years, caused by higher temperatures, lower snowfall and a more rapid breaking of icebergs. They include the Moreno glacier which i visited.

My site has been mention at which has resulted in a greater number of hits in the past two days. It has also been mentioned in Alexa – which is part of Amazon. You can add reviews of my site etc and see what people who visit my site buy and view on Amazon and what other sites they visit.

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Melaka – Chinatown (20-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – Roof of Penang’s Mosque (20-10-2003)

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Melaka – The town’s Oldest Chinese Temple (20-10-2003)

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Melaka – Guinness. Extra Foreign at 8% (20-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – Ska City. I wish there was such aservice. I would be barding it so fast … I like Ska Punk from NOFZ, Voodo Glow Skulls to Bosstones (20-10-2003)

Tuesday, October 21st, 2003 – Day 245

i was up at 9.00am to pack and get ready. I was walking to the bus station by 9.30am. It took about 35 minutes. I had spent all my local currency so nothing left to hire a taxi with. My bus was at 11.00am so I had enough to buy an Malaysian newspaper (english Edition) and wait. It was a 4.5 hour bus journey with the Malacca-Singapore Express.The price was 13.75 R. It was a nice clean bus with air-con. It was uneventful and I read the paper. There were no hassles ateither Malaysian or Singapore immigrations. Singapore customs are meant to be tough and search many bags but I saw no evidence of that.

I arrived in Lavender Street (same place where Igot a bus to KL) so I knew where I was and whereI was going. I had my Metro card (with 2.10HGD) left on it. I took the metro back to Hostel MacKenzie and booked in for22 HGD including breakfast. I got a nicer room than last time. I headed down to the hawker foodcourt in Little India fo rNasi goreng (2.50 HGD) and some ice tea. I went on the NET for an hour and researched accommodation in Bangkok.

The Indian Deepavali festival is still going strong and the most impotant days of that festivala re coming up. School kids in Malaysia and Singapore get their holidays to coincide.

Malaysian PM Mahathir is in trouble again regarding his speech about Jews. He has repeated the comments. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad renewed his attack on “arrogant” Jews on Tuesday, saying in a newspaper interview that the world’s reaction to his controversial recent comments confirms that “they do control the world”.

The guy who invented the game Scruples agress with him and says there is a world conspiracy. He belives a group called the Illuminati rule the world. Some papers agree.

I spent my last few Singapore Dollars on a beer.

Sunday, October 19th, 2003 – Day 243

Sunday, October 19th, 2003 – Day 243

I checked out the bus time tables to Singapore. It seems the first bus would be at 2.30pm. I decided to walk to Tonys Guesthouse. I should not have as it was hard going. It was hot and I was tired. The sign posting was pretty shite as well When I got there, I found it was closed for the month. It was either go back towards the bus station or go further on. I had passed Chinatown to get here and it was really nice. I decided to go on. I passed a Saint Patricks school on the way to Kancil Guesthouse. The beds there were very basic. There was only a partition between rooms and one ceiling fan to share between two rooms. I took it for 18 R per night. It was 10.20am and I decided to rest until 11.00am. I WOKE up at 2.00pm. Shit. I got ready and walked into town. It was rally nice. All the homes and shops were tidy and clean. No litter on the streets. Very little hassle and bussle. Maybe because it was Sunday.

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Melaka – Early Morning (19-10-2003)

The attraction here is the city’s cultural heritage, around which a substantial tourism industry has grown. If you’re visiting, a little knowledge of this history will help you understand and appreciate all there is to see.

Malacca was founded around 1400 by Parameswara, called Iskander Shah in the Malay Annals. After he was chased from Palembang in southern Sumatra by invading Javanese, he set up a kingdom in Singapore (Temasek), and after being overthrown by invaders there, ran up the west coast of the Malay peninsula to Malacca, where he settled and established a port city. The site was an ideal midpoint in the east-west trade route and was in a favorable spot to take advantage of the two monsoons that dominated shipping routes. Malacca soon drew the attention of the Chinese, and the city maintained very close relations with the mainland as a trading partner and a political ally. The Japanese were also eager to trade in Malacca, as were Muslim merchants. After Parameswara’s death in 1414, his son, Mahkota Iskander Shah, converted to Islam and became the first sultan of Malacca. The word of Islam quickly spread throughout the local population.

During the 15th century, Malacca was ruled by a succession of wise sultans who expanded the wealth and stability of the economy, built up the administration’s coffers, extended the sultanate to the far reaches of the Malay peninsula, Singapore, and parts of northern Sumatra, and thwarted repeated attacks by the Siamese. The success of the empire was drawing international attention.

The Portuguese were one of the powers eyeing the port and formulating plans to dominate the east-west trade route, establish the naval supremacy of Portugal, and promote Christianity in the region. They struck in 1511 and conquered Malacca in a battle that lasted only a month. It is believed the local Malaccans had become accustomed to the comforts of affluence and turned soft and vulnerable. After the defeat, the sultanate fled to Johor, where it reestablished the seat of Malay power. Malacca would never again be ruled by a sultan. The Portuguese looted the city and sent its riches off to Lisbon.

The Portuguese were also the first of a chain of ruling foreign powers who would struggle in vain to retain the early economic success of the city. The foreign conquerors had a major strike against them: Their Christianity alienated the locals and repelled Muslim traders. The city quickly became nothing more than a sleepy outpost.

In 1641, the Dutch, with the help of Johor, conquered Malacca and controlled the city until 1795. Again, the Dutch were unsuccessful in rebuilding the glory of past prosperity in Malacca, and the city continued to sleep.

In 1795, the Dutch traded Malacca to the British in return for Bencoolen in Sumatra, being far more concerned with their Indonesian interests anyway. Malacca became a permanent British settlement in 1811, but by this time had become so poor and alienated that it was impossible to bring it back to life.

The final blow came in 1941, when the city fell under Japanese occupation for 4 years. It wasn’t until 1957 that Malacca, along with the rest of Malaysia, gained full independence.

I visited the following attractions in Melaka / Malacca.

Christ Church

The Dutch built this place in 1753 as a Dutch Reform Church, and its architectural details include such wonders as ceiling beams cut from a single tree and a Last Supper glazed tile motif above the altar. It was later consecrated as an Anglican church, and mass is still performed today in English, Chinese, and Tamil.

St. Francis Xavier’s Church

This church was built in 1849 and dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit who brought Catholicism to Malacca and other parts of Southeast Asia

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Melaka – St. Francis Xavier’s Church (19-10-2003)

From here.

In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year, and although he reaped an abundant spiritual harvest, he was not able to root out certain abuses, and was conscious that many sinners had resisted his efforts to bring them back to God. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to Molucca Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ternate, Baranura, and other lesser islands which it has been difficult to identify. It is claimed by some that during this expedition he landed on the island of Mindanao, and for this reason St. Francis Xavier has been called the first Apostle of the Philippines. But although this statement is made by some writers of the seventeenth century, and in the Bull of canonization issued in 1623, it is said that he preached the Gospel in Mindanao, up to the present time it has not been proved absolutely that St. Francis Xavier ever landed in the Philippines.

By July, 1547, he was again in Malacca. Here he met a Japanese called Anger (Han-Sir), from whom he obtained much information about Japan. His zeal was at once aroused by the idea of introducing Christanity into Japan.

St. Paul’s Church

The church was built by the Portuguese in 1521, but when the Dutch came in, they made it part of A Famosa, converting the altar into a cannon mount. The open tomb inside was once the resting place of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary who spread Catholicism throughout Southeast Asia, and whose remains were later moved to Goa.

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Melaka – Saint Pauls. People are looking to the Place Where Saint Xavier was buried (19-10-2003)

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Melaka – Walking to Saint Paul’s (19-10-2003)

The Maritime Museum and the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum

These two museums are located across the street from one another but share admission fees. The Maritime Museum is in a restored 16th-century Portuguese ship, with exhibits dedicated to Malacca’s history with the sea. The Navy Museum is a modern display of Malaysia’s less-pleasant relationship with the sea.

Porta de Santiago (A Famosa)

Once the site of a Portuguese fortress called A Famosa, all that remains today of the fortress is the entrance gate, which was saved from demolition by Sir Stamford Raffles. When the British East India Company demolished the place, Raffles realized the arch’s historical value and saved it. The fort was built in 1512, but the inscription above the arch, “Anno 1607,” marks the date when the Dutch overthrew the Portuguese.

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Melaka – Melaka – The famous rickshaws because they are so colorfully decorated (19-10-2003)

Jalan Tokong

Not far from Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock is Jalan Tokong, called the “Street of Harmony” by the locals because it has three coexisting places of worship: the Kampong Kling Mosque, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, and the Sri Poyyatha Vinayar Moorthi Temple.

This is a real nice city and all attractions are within walking disance. I walked to the Mahkota Parade on Jalan Merdeka, just south of the field (Warrior Square) in the historic district to eat. I had a nice Chinese and Soya Bean drink which was excellent.

At night all the streets in Chinatown closed down to traffic and became open air markets. It was nice and relaxed. Way better then Penang. People left the doors of there houses open, the clan houses opened, there was open air palm reading and karoke singing. People drank outside and open air restaurants. It was a pleasant balmy evening and it was real nice. I enjoyed myself here. Relaxing.

I see Thailand is offering tourists VIP treatment for life. Check it out. You have to be super rich though.

Friday, October 17th, 2003 – Day 241 to Saturday, October 18th, 2003 – Day 242

Friday, October 17th, 2003 – Day 241

I was up around 10.00am and had a shower. Relaxed for a while as it was the first time I have had a window to look out at. Spent the morning wandering around the Dozens of temples here from mosques, to Buddhist to Hindu temples. I spent two hours looking for an Atm. I tried about 5 banks to no avial. I was at last pointed out to a Mabank Branch that took it. It was hard to find and they ahve only one branch here. there must have been 30 people queing for 4 machines. i had visions of selling my stuff in order to buy a ticket abck to KL.

I paid 5 R to enter the ornate Khoo Khongsi temple.

The Chinese who migrated to Southeast Asia created clan associations in their new homes. Based on common heritage, these social groups formed the core of Chinese life in the new homelands. The Khoo clan, who immigrated from Hokkien province in China, acquired this spot in 1851 and set to work building row houses, administrative buildings, and a clan temple around a large square. The temple here now was actually built in 1906 after a fire destroyed its predecessor. It was believed the original was too ornate, provoking the wrath of the gods. One look at the current temple, a Chinese baroque masterpiece, and you’ll wonder how that could possibly be. Come here in August for Chinese operas.

There is also a museum there where the hisitoy of Penang is mentioned. It seems that the different Chinese clans don’t like each other much.

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Penang – Roof of Temple. (17-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Penang – Khoo Khongsi. (17-10-2003)

From here

The Penang Riots of 1867, was a confrontation within the Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnic groups to the exclusion of the colonial government. The marginalisation of colonial residents was a gesture of defiance, just as the embattled urban space was a challenge to the authority of Empire. Prior to the historic outbreak of 1867, the Chinese secret societies in Penang had waged war against each other in 1858 and in 1864, revealing two major groups of contenders (CO 273-3: 421). It appeared that the Ghee Hin and Tua Pek Kong societies were fighting for territorial dominance and controlling the smaller Associations in the settlement.

The Penang Riots was an eye-opener to the British Government. It was convinced that what started as a quarrel between the Red and White Flag societies during the Awal Muharram (Muslim New Year) festival in 1867 was transformed by their Chinese allies into a full-scale, armed fight pitting 4,000 Red Flag and Tua Pek Kong members against 32,000 of the White Flag and the Ghee Hin. These riots were described as horrible scenes of slaughter and violence that affected not only the town but also outlying areas.

A nice part of the clan temple is that people who receive educational degrees get a name plaque in one of the buildings. You must be male! It seems students work hard not just for themselves but for their family, clan and ancestors. No wonder, the Chinese work for hard. They have the expectations of their fore fathers to push them.

I walked down to the bus station to buy a ticket to Melkaka for tomorrow night. Its a 7 hour bus journey.

A senior Malaysian official Friday defended Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s assertion at an Islamic summit that Jews rule the world. The Malaysian prime minister told leaders of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim grouping, that “Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” Jews, said the Malaysian prime minister, had “invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy” to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries.

Nothing else of interest to report tonight. It rained a lot! No kidding!

I called into a pub around 11.30. It was quiet and I had a large bottle of Carlsberg for 10 R. I watched 40 Days and 40 Nights which was fun but had nothing to say for itself and Transporter which was pop corn fun but predictable. I like Jason Statham from Snatch though.

I was in bed by 2.00am. It was funny walking home as there were lady boys in the shadows. I could walk around a corner and see some bloke in a mini skirt smoking a fag going hiss, hiss. I walked past 2 on a corner and they gave me a fright. I walked in the middle of the road the rest of the way home 🙁

Saturday, October 18th, 2003 – Day 242

I see Bolivia’s Vice President was sworn in to take over the presidency on Friday after the resignation of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada following a deadly popular revolt in South America’s poorest nation.

Sanchez de Lozada, a free marketeer and key U.S. ally in the anti-drug war, resigned after a month-long revolt by Bolivia’s Indian majority in which more than 70 people died.

I really like that country. Still. The Indian majority were not been represented by there government in issues like coca cultivation, mining, gas exports etc.

This Blog has made a liar out of me. Recently (3/4 days ago) I said the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur were the world’s highest. It seems Taiwan will have the tallest building in a few days.

The world’s tallest skyscraper was completed in Taiwan on Friday when workmen fitted the pinnacle on to the 508-metre-tall (1,676 ft) Taipei 101 building. The 91-storey structure, in the business district of the capital Taipei, is scheduled to open formally next year. The office building is more than 50 metres (165 ft) taller than the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – formerly the world’s highest skyscraper.

But Taipei 101 is not expected to hold the tallest building title for long.

In China, developers say the Shanghai World Financial Centre will be even higher when it is completed in 2007.

In Malaysia, Prime minister Mahathir said “They have one very tall building, taller than ours, but we have two. We have the distinction of having the tallest twin towers in the world. No one else has that yet,” Mahathir told journalists at a summit of Islamic nations.

In Irish News, Ireland has experienced a massive rise in the number of children born to foreign nationals in recent years. Ireland is the only European Union country that grants automatic citizenship to babies born within its borders.

In 1999, only 2% of babies were born to non-nationals. This year the figure will be almost 20%.

“Most of these women, 70%, are coming from sub-Saharan Africa and the majority of those from Nigeria,” Dr Keane told Ireland’s RTE radio.

I did little today. My bus was t 10.00pm tonight.I spend some time in Kompar shopping mall looking at DVD’s. Its a crazy place. There are 4/5 Shopping plazas all linked together by cross street walk ways. You never know which one you are in. The bus station is located under one of these centres in the dark.

I see Guinness here is labeled FOREIGN EXTRA and is 8% alcohol. That is very high.

I found out the reason why authorities have cracked down on VCD and pirate DVD’s. An employee of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) made a porn movie of his cabin crew colleagues. It went public and the whole country bought it on VCD causing national outrage. The authorities cracked down all (porn) VCD’s. The authorities will now search private homes if they receive tip-offs about people with pornographic VCDs.

“We are just waiting for any information from the public and we have ways to investigate these claims before applying for a warrant to move into these premises,” Home Ministry spokesman Mamat Ibrahim was quoted as saying by the Star.

In penang, copying is at a semi-industrial level. The main shops openly sell them, even in the poshest malls. They all have stock taking software in order to reorder popular titles. They even have loyalty schemes. They had box sets (4 DVd’s) of 3 seasons of the Sopranos, boxsets of sex and the city and buffy and band of brothers. wow. A 4 DVD set of the Sopranos was 60 R. (13 Euro) vs 75 Euro at home (via Even more popular are pirate games and software.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Penang – Herbal Medicine. (17-10-2003)

I headed down to the bus station at 9.00pm. The bus left on time at 10.00pm even 14 people. It was a normal 52 seater but the air-con was bloody, bloody cold.

We were meant to arrive at 5.00am but did not arrive until 9.00am. It was a cold and uncomfortable ride. The sets did not recline, it was cold inside (warm outside), people were snoring, we had to change buses TWICE. It was also hard to get any information as to when we would get there. The driving skills are not great and we braked nearly dozens of times during the night. At least the roads are in good nick.