Catching Up

Just added the last set of pictures from Cambodia and some from Hong Kong into the old 2008 folder.

On my first trip into S21 (the concentration camp in Phnom Penh) I refrained from taking pictures to try and fully appreciate what happened there.  On my second time through I thought it would be okay to take a few pictures to try and illustrate some of what happened.  I’ve posted 6 photos from the concentration camp, but this really does the place no justice.  It’s full of photos and stories of people that went through a very tragic time in the history of Cambodia.  It’s a bit altruistic to think that these photos will change anything but for history’s sake I post them anyway.

Hong Kong pictures are the typical food and people types of shots.  I tried to give an idea of what Mong Kok is like, it’s the reason I enjoy the area so much.  You are absolutely enveloped by people the moment you step onto the sidewalk.  I can walk down the side walk and people don’t even give me a second glance, a nice change from Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam.

Delay No More

On arriving into Hong Kong Homer was quite sure I would be run over within the first half hour.  Fortunately I’ve been able to avoid this fate, not without some close calls.  I picked up the bad habit of crossing the road whenever I wanted to in Viet Nam and it’s something that I found to be very easy to get used to, much to Homers disbelief.  The traffic and people there move slow enough to avoid pedestrians and generally move at a slower pace.  The pace of Hong Kong is something I should have been prepared for seeing that this is my 4th trip th HK but it still caught me off guard, everyone here is basically running from place to place where people in the rest of SE. Asia stroll to their next appointment.  This is essentially how I think of Hong Kong people now, they move at 2 speeds; full blast or full stop.  This goes for anything they do be it talking, walking, eating or anything you could think of.

This isn’t to say I’m not once again charmed with Hong Kong because I totally am.  Homer’s cousin took us to what I like to call Kung Fu Dim Sum, a totally new experince for me.  The dim sum i’m accustomed to is very calm and orderly with a food routine basically worked out over many times eating dim sum.  This was a polar opposite to what I’m used to, starting with getting seats. We had to stand over people and try and guess who was finished eating and would soon be leaving their seats.   I personally thought one fellow who was enjoying the news paper would soon be leaving, he barely gave me one glance and went back to reading his paper and didn’t move one inch.  We managed to sneak onto a nearby table sqeezing in between two other groups of diners.  This wasn’t the end of the trials there, I’m used to them wheeling around their carts of food and we point at things we’d like to eat.  In this case you can wait for things, but you may be waiting for quite some time.  It’s quite normal for people to go wandering around the shop themseleves looking for what they want and it’s not uncommon to see a popular cart overwhelmed by people.  At one point Homer went to the kitchen to ask for something, he was informed gruffly that the food was out on the floor and to go find it himself. It was a totally fun eating experience in Hong Kong, I was informed this was a genuine tea house that had been there forever and this was how it’s supposed to be.

Once again Homer’s family took good care of us, feeding us way too much good food and Homer and I made trips out to some food eating mecca’s like Sai Kung.  We consumed more than our fair share of mangoes and I had my ghost eyeballs.

Long flight to London tomorrow, flying on Virgin Atlantic.  Hopefully Mr. Bransons planes all have personal video players.

Familiar Territory

Current Location:Hong Kong, China

On leaving Cambodia for the second time I’ve realized that it’s quite important to be aware of the history of a country and to be conscious of what we do and how we behave as tourists in these countries.  What really bothered me upon leaving is tourists wearing the red Krama (Krama is the traditional Cambodian scarf.)   On the surface it seems that it’s quite harmless to wear something as trivial as a red scarf, but in this case it’s the symbol of the Khmer Rouge, and on the way back to Thailand I saw more than one tourist wearing these scarves.  I’m not sure if these people were aware of the symbolism of these garments but I find that little excuse for what they are portraying .  I believe it’s our responsibility as travelers to be educated and aware of what we do in someone elses home and to be as insensitive as to promote something as terrible as the Khmer Rouge is enough to make my blood boil.  I’m not sure where I learned about the red scarf but it was something I knew about far before I set foot in Cambodia and while I see locals still wearing these garments, it’s something that is somewhat understandable as almost all of the educated population was eradicated in the 70’s leaving just the peasants and a few of the educated population.

All of the ranting is probably exascerbated by the fact that I visited S21 for a second time, again on the day before leaving the country.  I re-read all the stories and looked again at all the pictures on the wall and tried again to understand how a human being can try to kill all of his brothers and sisters.   It’s not something I enjoy doing but like I wrote earlier it’s important to understand the history of a place as a responsible traveler.  On leaving a second time I realized I enjoy the place quite a bit and there is a more than better chance I go back there, not sure in what capacity but probably not a tourist for a while.

Back in Hong Kong for my 4th trip here and things are incredibly familiar, from the people to the food and everything in between.  I’ve already had to loosen the belt one notch since arriving thanks to Homers family treating better than good.  Most meals typically have more than 10 dishes and go on far longer than I’m really comfortable eating.  I’ve put away the camera for a while as most of the pictures would be a re-hash of the last trip but I’ll wander around a few days and snap pictures to try and give a better idea of what a day in the life of Hong Kong might be.  Up until this point all we have worried about is where dinner might be in 3 days time or where lunch will be tomorrow, I know it’s quite silly but I’ve done most everything in Hong Kong and typically while a way the afternoon wandering around the streets people watching.  I really do love the food culture here in Hong Kong.  No where else have I visited before is food so central to every day life.  It’s literally found everywhere you look whether it be a food stall, someone eating, a restaurant, or a street vendor cooking something quite random.  And you also have to appreciate the fact that the Chinese waste nothing when it comes to food, this time I got to enjoy ducks’ tongues for lunch.

All of this food leaves me to believe I was probably Chinese in a previous life.