Destination: Cambodia

The Particular Anger of Powerlessness

Laos-Cambodia Border Photo: Hector Garcia via Flickr
(Creative Commons)

Lauren Quinn confronts a culture of bribery while crossing the Cambodia-Laos border

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Interview with Henry Rollins: Punk Rock World Traveler

Jim Benning asks the musician about his new book of photographs and how travel has humbled him

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‘So Everyone You See Here That’s Over 35 Lived Through the War?’

Over at Matador, World Hum contributor Lauren Quinn wrote a long, layered story about a visit to the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, her childhood friendship with the daughter of expat Cambodian survivors in Oakland, and the silence that seems to linger over the war.

Here’s a taste:

Our tuk-tuk rattled along the unsteady pavement, taking us closer to the mass-grave execution site that is one of Phnom Penh’s two main tourist attractions. The other is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former S-21 torture prison under the Khmer Rouge. All the travel agencies along the riverside advertise for tours of the two, sometimes combined with a trip to a shooting range where travelers can fire AK-47s left over from the war (ammunition costs not included).

Most travelers stayed in Phnom Penh only long enough to see S-21 and the Killing Fields, then scattered from the city. It was what Cindy was doing, and what I, if I hadn’t come for my particular project, would have done as well. I’d been putting off visiting the Killing Fields, not wanting, I’d rationalized, to spend the $12 tuk-tuk fare venturing out solo. Cindy offered an opportunity to split the cost—but more than that, she offered a buffer, a companion.

The wind grew stronger without buildings to block it, and I blinked bits of dust and debris from my contact lenses. By the time we pulled into the dirt lot in front of the Killing Fields, stinging tears blurred my vision.

“This happens every day here,” I laughed, and dabbed my eyes.

World Travel Watch: Hundreds Killed in Phnom Penh Stampede, Dutch ‘Coffee Shops’ Closing to Tourists

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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World Travel Watch: Penalties for Touts in Delhi, Tourist Tax in Lisbon and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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Illegal Pumping Threatens Angkor Wat

The Guardian’s Ben Doherty reports from Siem Reap, where the Angkor Wat temple complex is facing yet another threat. Doherty explains:

Unchecked development, and the widespread, unregulated pumping of groundwater throughout Siem Reap city, has raised concerns that the temples, including the world’s largest religious monument, Angkor Wat, could crack or crumble if too much water is drained away.

The temples and towers of the 402-square-kilometre Angkor site sit on a base of sand, kept firm by a constant supply of groundwater that rises and falls with the seasons, but which is now being used to supply a burgeoning city.

With the number of visitors to the northern Cambodian province approaching 2 million a year, increasing pressure is being put on the scarce water resource.

Thousands of illegal private pumps have been sunk across the city, pulling millions of litres of water from the ground each day.

There’s a report in the works that is expected to outline some possible water solutions for the area.

World Travel Watch: Typhoid in Fiji, Khmer Rouge Tourism in Cambodia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

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How to Eat Fried Tarantulas in Cambodia

How to Eat Fried Tarantulas in Cambodia istockphoto

The crunchy exoskeletons are a favorite snack. Darrin DuFord explains where and how to chow down. (Think drive-thrus!)

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Passports With Purpose is Back

And it’s bigger and bloggier than before. In its second year, the travel blogging/fundraising effort, co-founded by World Hum contributor Pam Mandel, is aimed at building a school in rural Cambodia. Here’s Pam on the inspiration behind the project:

For me, this is something of a selfish act. I have been—what is it? Haunted is too strong a word. Obsessed, perhaps, is closer to the truth. I have wanted so badly to do something, anything, to mend the heartbreak that Cambodia left me with. Passports with Purpose is going to help me answer that question of doing something, anything, to help.

A huge group of travel bloggers has signed on, and there are fabulous prizes—three nights in a Waikiki hotel, anyone?—up for grabs. Each $10 donation made towards the effort lands you a spot in the prize giveaway of your choice. You can find all the details here.

Interview With Nicholas Kristof: Traveling and Tweeting Under ‘Half the Sky’

Nicholas Kristof Photo by Fred R. Conrad

David Frey asks the author about his dream vacation, Twitter, travel to hellholes and the trip that changed his life

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Dhani Tackles Poetry: ‘Visions Unwritten’

Dhani Tackles Poetry: ‘Visions Unwritten’ Picture: Red Line Films
Picture: Red Line Films

NFL linebacker and Renaissance man Dhani Jones hosts the Travel Channel show, Dhani Tackles the Globe.

Like any good Renaissance man, he’s writing poems inspired by the travel experiences featured on each show.

The topic of tonight’s journey: Cambodia.

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Morning Links: Bible Park, Pizza Vending Machines and More

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Moung Russey, Cambodia

Moung Russey, Cambodia REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Men transport a live pig on the back of their motorcycle in Moung Russey, located in Cambodia's western Battambang province.

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‘A Zen Level of Patience’: Matt Gross on Air Travel

ipod on flight Photo by The Shane H, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by The Shane H, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

When I fly, I follow a simple rule: I always ask for a window seat as far towards the front of the plane as possible. I love to stare out of the window, and I prefer the front of the plane because it’s a smoother ride (the tail bounces more) and, once the plane arrives, you get to deplane sooner.

But I was curious to find out what rules and feelings about flying another traveler might have, so I called up World Hum contributor Matt Gross, the man who writes the Frugal Traveler stories for the New York Times. We caught up while he was on assignment—on a train, to be precise—in Europe. He estimates that he’s been on about thirty flights in the past year, all of them in economy.

He told me he loved flying.

“How can you not love flying? You get on a plane somewhere. You sit down; you try and relax. I relax relatively easily. You know, four to twenty-four hours later, you’re somewhere else. It’s pretty cool. I like the anticipation of it as well. The trip has not yet been ruined,” he said, laughing. Gross laughs a lot, a good quality for a traveler to have. “Hopefully it hasn’t yet been ruined.”

“You’re about to go somewhere. You have all this time to gather your thoughts and emotions and everything and get ready for the adventure,” he added.

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On Asia: Points East

On Asia: Points East iStockPhoto
Shibuya, Tokyo. iStockphoto.

If this is indeed the “Asian century,” count me as an early adopter. I’ve quit two full-time jobs to explore the world’s most diverse continent, and they were the two best decisions I’ve ever made. To an Asia hand, the lavender fields of Provence might be pleasant, but it’s the chanting of novice monks, the mystical tinkling of the gamelan, a bowl of spicy dan dan noodles that really get the blood pumping. I’m drawn back, again and again, and I don’t know if I’ll ever kick the habit.

My (unlikely) introduction to Asia began in arid, post-Soviet Uzbekistan in the late ‘90s. As soon as my conference in Tashkent wrapped up, I hopped a bus to the Silk Road city of Samarkand, where blue-tiled madrassas dazzled against an azure sky. They were like nothing I’d seen, a window into an ancient time when Tamerlane traipsed across the steppes.

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