Around Bangkok

The huge reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Central World Plaza shopping mall

Benjasiri Park near Sukhumvit Road

View from Lebua Tower, hotel featured in Hangover 2

At the Grand Palace...

coming into Bangkok via train

Bangkok's Democracy Monument

People often complain about Bangkok's traffic...and for good reason...

Example of typical Bangkok gridlock traffic - a problem nicely rectified by taking the city's above ground monorail as seen above and below or by hopping on the back of one of the many motorcycle taxis, which will weave in and out of traffic and even zoom onto sidewalks.

Air tram stop near Chatuchak Market, Bangkok's huge weekend market

A South Indian temple

One of many bars lining Soi Cowboy

Off of Khaosan Road - an street crammed with t-shirt stalls, gift shops, street food and pubs for tourists and backpackers was Soi Rambutri, a really relaxing, shady area consisting of a horseshoe brick road circling around a monastery and lined with the cheapest guest houses in Bangkok, restaurants, internet cafes, bars, more t-shirt stalls, VW bus bars, travel agents, etc. I found a particularly off-the-beaten track, dirty and cheap guest house through an alley past some clothing vendors. This was the staircase leading down to the bathrooms from my room. (I stayed at this place during one of my four stopevers in Bangkok, after I had been to Japan and was thus trying to save what little money I had left.) The bathrooms did not smell good. You can actually see a urinal in the photo.

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport

Layover in Seoul at Incheon Airport


Around Phnom Penh

Fruit vendor at market with rambutan, dragon fruit, citrus, apples, bananas and more. I can't remember; what are the small brown ones in the front called? (Mangosteen and life-changing durian not pictured here.)

Scooter traffic in front of the Old Market (Phsar Chas)

Central Market, not far from a mall and movie theater where I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 for about three dollars.

Daily aerobics on the river esplanade

I rented a bike from my guest house. Cruising around the city was a great way to get around and explore.

Democracy Monument

Outside Wat Ounalom Monastery

On a bus outside Phnom Penh

Sooooo....this is the after effects from getting cupped. If you don't know what cupping is, you can read about it here on Wikipedia or Acupuncture Today. Around Southeast Asia, when I was in a city and not in the countryside working on farms or teaching English I often opted for a daily massage as they were usually about $3-$5 for an excellent traditional therapeutic treatment. Sometimes these massages came with complimentary aromatic steam baths, which were also awesome and really just a great deal. In Phnom Penh, I saw a sign near my guest house, offering up cupping sessions for just $2. I had tried cupping once during an acupuncture treatment, and thought I would give it a shot. I'm open to trying natural therapeutic treatments - especially for $2. (The lady quickly informed me in broken English that it would be $3 instead of $2.) Well, the "treatment" was not what I expected. For one, it was pretty painful. When I asked the therapist how long the glass cups would stay sucking onto my back skin, she replied, "Yes yes ok!" There was a big box of cups, but I never would have imagined that she was going to use all of them plus more...I counted more than 60 cups popping off of my back afterward. And then she did a second round as I winced and tried to take it like a man. Cupping supposedly helps cleanse your body of toxins. And, in case you aren't sure, the purple spots are yes, bruises. Nearly three months later (I'm very late in updating this blog) I still have some faint circles on my back! The photo above was taken by the therapist immediately after the session. The two below were taken later that evening in my Phnom Penh guesthouse.

Photo of my back covered in purple circles in the reception area of guest house before my final overnight bus ride in Asia from Cambodia back to Bangkok.


Tragic Legacy of the Khmer Rough in Phnom Penh

In Phnom Penh, the most famous tourist attractions all relate to horrific tragedy - killing fields, prison camps, rampant torture and violence, piles of human skulls and a painting of a baby getting its skull smashed against a tree. In the 1970's the "simple" and "farmer" Communists known as the Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodians), took over the country and killed roughly two million people, nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population. Above is a room (former elementary school classroom) that housed prisoners who were shackled to the bed with the steel device on top of the bed. The box is an ammunition case used by the prisoners as toilets. New York Times just posted an article on the current UN trials against some former Khmer Rouge leaders.

In Phnom Penh, there are tuk tuk drivers waiting to drive foreign visitors to the sites of the city just like in other Southeast Asian locales, but the tourist sites are quite grim and different for tourists coming from Angkor Wat or sandy beaches. Beggars with missing limbs outside the Genocide Museum do nothing to dispel the forlorn and tragic energy surrounding the school turned prison camp turned museum, also known as S-21, the school's original name.

These classrooms were divided up into many tiny cells made of wood and doorways were made through the walls to create a line of cells. Visitors can still see blood stains on the tile floors.

Of the thousands of Cambodians who were checked into this school turned prison camp in Phnom Penh, only 12 survived. After extensive torture, starving, suffering and interrogations, they were summarily executed - usually taken to outside of the city to "killing fields" where the bodies could more easily be buried.

Blocks away from the school, the modern city pushes up high rise condos and office buildings.

Skulls line the shelves at S-21.

A few kilometers outside the city, many of the prisoners were brought to an area known as Choeung Ek or the Killing Fields. 17,000 humans were murdered here between 1975 and 1979. Some of the many mass graves were excavated and later on a stupa was built to house these remains.

Looking into the Buddhist stupa on site that contains 5,000 human skulls.