A Travellerspoint blog

Conclusion and Highlights

Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia


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The Route

My backpack route of 113 days in this order: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.

My backpack route of 113 days in this order: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.

My trip in Southeast Asia went down pretty much as planned. I mostly stuck to the Banana Pancake Trail and getting around as well as booking activities was really easy. Anything can be booked from the hostel desks, though the diving school of your choice and the hot air balloon ride in Bagan should be booked in advance due to high demand. People are friendly and understand enough English to get around as a tourist. At the hostels, there is often a mix of local and Western staff. That may not sound authentic, but it really helps to make the most of your precious time.

All in all, I spent exactly 10k EUR for this trip. If you plan to do a similar trip, my budget sheet might help you (Ignore the dollar sign: all totals are in EUR, spendings are in local currency). Thanks to https://alittleadrift.com/ for sharing the template :)

These costs include

* intercontinental and domestic flights
* all gear I had to buy (not the backpack, had that one already), including the new camera and tablet PC
* the high cost activities: my three diving licenses, the balloon flight over Bagan, the power delta wing flight in Vang Vieng
* generally all activities, accomodation and food
* visas and pre-trip organization like passport photos, international drivers license, foreign health insurance

My backpack and its contents at the beginning of the trip. That changed a bit in the course of my travel.

My backpack and its contents at the beginning of the trip. That changed a bit in the course of my travel.

Things I was really glad to have with me:
* a small day backpack for hiking and city tours (the shoulder bag proved to be ill suited)
* the see through zip log and vacuum bags: helped to keep the backpack in order
* lots of band aids and disinfectant for blisters in the first weeks, and generally scratches from the nature activities
* the power bank for charging devices on the road
* table and phone for entertainment on long bus and ferry rides and general internet/wifi usage
* inflatable cushion for long rides and hoodie for cold A/C busses
* ear plugs (wax), sleeping mask and a number pad lock for the hostels
* toilette paper and a small bottle of liquid soap, in case the rest rooms ran out it and you feel uneasy using the bum gun

As a reward, I brought back these memories:

Sunsets

Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand.


Long Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand.

Long Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand.


Actually the sunrise over Bagan, Myanmar.

Actually the sunrise over Bagan, Myanmar.


A fisherman at sunset on Inle Lake, Myanmar.

A fisherman at sunset on Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Wildlife

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Rajah Brooke's birdwing is the national butterfly of Malaysia and quite a beauty.
A hermit crab at Charlie Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand.

A hermit crab at Charlie Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand.


Holding snakes at the Snake Temple in Georgetown, Malaysia.

Holding snakes at the Snake Temple in Georgetown, Malaysia.


A starfish chilling on the sandbank in Krabi, Thailand.

A starfish chilling on the sandbank in Krabi, Thailand.


The 5 month old baby elephant at the Doi Inthanon Elephant Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The 5 month old baby elephant at the Doi Inthanon Elephant Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


A spider we found while hiking in the Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A spider we found while hiking in the Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


At Inle Lake, Myanmar, some birds rest on wooden poles or patches of water lillies like this, with their wings spread --- I have no idea why. Maybe to keep their balance?

At Inle Lake, Myanmar, some birds rest on wooden poles or patches of water lillies like this, with their wings spread --- I have no idea why. Maybe to keep their balance?


Strange white insects fall from the trees at Kuang Si waterfall, Laos

Strange white insects fall from the trees at Kuang Si waterfall, Laos


Water buffaloes chilling in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Water buffaloes chilling in Sa Pa, Vietnam.


Fruit bats in Battambang, Cambodia.

Fruit bats in Battambang, Cambodia.


The bat cave of Battambang, Cambodia.

The bat cave of Battambang, Cambodia.


Petting an albino python at the Snake Temple, Georgetown, Malaysia.

Petting an albino python at the Snake Temple, Georgetown, Malaysia.


An ant tribe built their hive by rolling up a leaf in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand.

An ant tribe built their hive by rolling up a leaf in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand.

Plants

You can find wild carnivorous pitcher plants (Nepenthes) on the trails around Tanah Rata in Malaysia.

You can find wild carnivorous pitcher plants (Nepenthes) on the trails around Tanah Rata in Malaysia.

Temples

The stairs leading up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The stairs leading up to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


The interior of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The interior of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


The magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.

The magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.


Another impressive view of the gold-and-white stupa towers of a typical pagoda at Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Another impressive view of the gold-and-white stupa towers of a typical pagoda at Inle Lake, Myanmar.


Linh Ung Pagoda in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Linh Ung Pagoda in Da Nang, Vietnam.


Buddhas in Wat Xieng Thong Buddhist Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Buddhas in Wat Xieng Thong Buddhist Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos.


Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, Cambodia.

Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, Cambodia.


Banteay Samre in Siam Reap, Cambodia.

Banteay Samre in Siam Reap, Cambodia.


Wat Ek Phnom, Battambang, Cambodia.

Wat Ek Phnom, Battambang, Cambodia.


Inside Umin Thounzeh at Sagaing Hill, Myanmar, in front of the 30 Buddha statues.

Inside Umin Thounzeh at Sagaing Hill, Myanmar, in front of the 30 Buddha statues.


Outside Umin Thounzeh at Sagaing Hill, Myanmar. The Buddhas sit inside the arcades.

Outside Umin Thounzeh at Sagaing Hill, Myanmar. The Buddhas sit inside the arcades.

Architecture

The financial district of Singapore at night provides a stunning view.

The financial district of Singapore at night provides a stunning view.


Kuala Lumpur tourist picture time at the Petronas Twin Towers.

Kuala Lumpur tourist picture time at the Petronas Twin Towers.


Street art in Georgetown, Malaysia

Street art in Georgetown, Malaysia


Khoo Kongsi Clan House in Georgetown, Malaysia

Khoo Kongsi Clan House in Georgetown, Malaysia


Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.


Our night quarter while trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Our night quarter while trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


A stone monastery before sunset in Mandalay, Myanmar.

A stone monastery before sunset in Mandalay, Myanmar.


The U Bein teak wood bridge at sunset in Mandalay, Myanmar.

The U Bein teak wood bridge at sunset in Mandalay, Myanmar.


Probably the best photo spot on the ground in Bagan, Myanmar.

Probably the best photo spot on the ground in Bagan, Myanmar.


The pole houses of Inle Lake, Myanmar.

The pole houses of Inle Lake, Myanmar.


Chinese assembly houses in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Chinese assembly houses in Hoi An, Vietnam.


Ta Prohm in Angkor Archeological Park, Cambodia.

Ta Prohm in Angkor Archeological Park, Cambodia.

Diving

The SSI OWD graduation video, password is "scuba"
Gearing up for the dive in Koh Tao, Thailand.

Gearing up for the dive in Koh Tao, Thailand.


I find the backwards entry method to be the most convenient.

I find the backwards entry method to be the most convenient.


Diving really puts you right in the middle of the action.

Diving really puts you right in the middle of the action.


The sea turtle was the definite highlight of our last dive.

The sea turtle was the definite highlight of our last dive.


Yay!

Yay!

Activities

Be one with the toilet seat in the Upside Down House of Penang, Malaysia.

Be one with the toilet seat in the Upside Down House of Penang, Malaysia.


Sunset group photo on the kayak tour in Krabi, Thailand. I am number 3 from the left.

Sunset group photo on the kayak tour in Krabi, Thailand. I am number 3 from the left.


Preparing a spring roll for the superb cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Preparing a spring roll for the superb cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand.


Do as the Buddhists do at the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar.

Do as the Buddhists do at the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar.


A glance through the open windows of the breakfast area of a monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar.

A glance through the open windows of the breakfast area of a monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar.


Discovering Bagan, Myanmar, on Ebike.

Discovering Bagan, Myanmar, on Ebike.


Hot air balloon ride over Bagan, Myanmar.

Hot air balloon ride over Bagan, Myanmar.


A boat tour on Inle Lake, Myanmar, always passes by the fisher men.

A boat tour on Inle Lake, Myanmar, always passes by the fisher men.


Sampling local cigars at Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Sampling local cigars at Inle Lake, Myanmar.


Canal tour in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The rice hats are an instant relief in the searing sunshine.

Canal tour in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The rice hats are an instant relief in the searing sunshine.


Having my measurments taken at the tailors for new business suits, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Having my measurments taken at the tailors for new business suits, Hoi An, Vietnam.


Caving in the Elephant Cave, Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam.

Caving in the Elephant Cave, Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam.


Power delta wing flight in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Power delta wing flight in Vang Vieng, Laos.


Tubing into a flat wet cave in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Tubing into a flat wet cave in Vang Vieng, Laos.


Swimming in one of the pools of Kuang Si waterfall, Laos.

Swimming in one of the pools of Kuang Si waterfall, Laos.


Riding the bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia.

Riding the bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia.

Food

Chinese Hot Pot dinner time in Tanah Rata, Malaysia.

Chinese Hot Pot dinner time in Tanah Rata, Malaysia.


Catch of the day in Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Catch of the day in Koh Lipe, Thailand.


Enduring the Durian in Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Enduring the Durian in Koh Lipe, Thailand.


Sampling palm wine in a suburb of Yangon, Myanmar.

Sampling palm wine in a suburb of Yangon, Myanmar.


Fresh sugar cane juice in Bagan, Myanmar.

Fresh sugar cane juice in Bagan, Myanmar.


Red wine and a cheese plate in the sunset (blue cheese and some hard cheese-very yummy) at the Red Mountain Estate, Inle Lake, Myanmar.

Red wine and a cheese plate in the sunset (blue cheese and some hard cheese-very yummy) at the Red Mountain Estate, Inle Lake, Myanmar.


We visited a simple rice wine distillery at Inle Lake, Myanmar. And tasted the still warm cask strength product.

We visited a simple rice wine distillery at Inle Lake, Myanmar. And tasted the still warm cask strength product.


Pho in Saigon, Vietnam.

Pho in Saigon, Vietnam.


Deep fried dried squid in Saigon, Vietnam.

Deep fried dried squid in Saigon, Vietnam.


Mekong fish with crunchy scales, Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

Mekong fish with crunchy scales, Mekong Delta, Vietnam.


Cao Lau, a noodle soup with pork in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Cao Lau, a noodle soup with pork in Hoi An, Vietnam.


Sweet stuff at the night market in Hue, Vietnam.

Sweet stuff at the night market in Hue, Vietnam.


Vietnamese BBQ in Hue, Vietnam.

Vietnamese BBQ in Hue, Vietnam.


Night market of Luang Prabang, Laos.

Night market of Luang Prabang, Laos.


Mmmh, dat rat. Battambang, Cambodia.

Mmmh, dat rat. Battambang, Cambodia.

Monuments

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A Reclining Buddha at Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
The head of the Buddha overgrown by trees at Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.

The head of the Buddha overgrown by trees at Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.


The Golden Rock in Myanmar.

The Golden Rock in Myanmar.


Buddha statue in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Buddha statue in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Land- and Cityscapes

Enjoying a cup of Broken Orange Pekoe in the BOH tea factory cafe with a stunning view on the plantation.

Enjoying a cup of Broken Orange Pekoe in the BOH tea factory cafe with a stunning view on the plantation.


Peasants planting rice in Mandalay, Myanmar.

Peasants planting rice in Mandalay, Myanmar.


Boat ride from Myanmar to Bagan, Myanmar.

Boat ride from Myanmar to Bagan, Myanmar.


In front of the post office building in Saigon, Vietnam.

In front of the post office building in Saigon, Vietnam.


Common street view of Saigon, Vietnam.

Common street view of Saigon, Vietnam.


The rice terraces of Sa Pa in Vietnam.

The rice terraces of Sa Pa in Vietnam.


Beautiful rocks emerge from the water and form small islands at Hai Phong Bay, Vietnam.

Beautiful rocks emerge from the water and form small islands at Hai Phong Bay, Vietnam.


Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Miscellaneous

The Bui Vien backpacker street and busy crossing as seen from the Air 360 Sky Bar in Saigon, Vietnam.

The Bui Vien backpacker street and busy crossing as seen from the Air 360 Sky Bar in Saigon, Vietnam.


These boats decorated with lanterns ferry couples along the river at night in Hoi An, Vietnam.

These boats decorated with lanterns ferry couples along the river at night in Hoi An, Vietnam.


The streets decorated with lanterns in Hoi An at night, Vietnam.

The streets decorated with lanterns in Hoi An at night, Vietnam.


The abandoned water park of Hue, Vietnam.

The abandoned water park of Hue, Vietnam.


Fishing boats with large nets like this are a common sight along the river leading to Tonle Sap, Cambodia.

Fishing boats with large nets like this are a common sight along the river leading to Tonle Sap, Cambodia.


Sleeper busses in Vietnam for overnight trips from town to town.

Sleeper busses in Vietnam for overnight trips from town to town.

Waterfalls

The in-door waterfall catches the visitor's eye directly at the entrance of Cloud Forest, Gardens by The Bay, Singapore.

The in-door waterfall catches the visitor's eye directly at the entrance of Cloud Forest, Gardens by The Bay, Singapore.


The upper part of Robinson Falls in Tanah Rata, Malaysia.

The upper part of Robinson Falls in Tanah Rata, Malaysia.


Cooling down while trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Cooling down while trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand.


Kuang Si waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos.

Kuang Si waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos.

History

The Independence Palace in Saigon, Vietnam, the office of the South Vietnamese President during the Vietnam war.

The Independence Palace in Saigon, Vietnam, the office of the South Vietnamese President during the Vietnam war.


Vinh Moc tunnel bomb shelter from the Vietnam War era.

Vinh Moc tunnel bomb shelter from the Vietnam War era.


Huey helicopters in Khe Sanh Combat Base, Vietnam.

Huey helicopters in Khe Sanh Combat Base, Vietnam.


Some of the many many many bombs dropped on Vietnam. Pirate shown for scale.

Some of the many many many bombs dropped on Vietnam. Pirate shown for scale.


One section of the VC support line crossed the Song Thach Han river.

One section of the VC support line crossed the Song Thach Han river.


A Viet Cong Mig-21 of the victorious North Vietnam.

A Viet Cong Mig-21 of the victorious North Vietnam.


Various mines and explosives disarmed by Aki Ra in the Landmine Museum, Siam Reap, Cambodia. The small ones are antipersonell mines, the large ones are anti-tank mines.

Various mines and explosives disarmed by Aki Ra in the Landmine Museum, Siam Reap, Cambodia. The small ones are antipersonell mines, the large ones are anti-tank mines.


The Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Beaches

Half decayed pier at Penang National Park, Malaysia.

Half decayed pier at Penang National Park, Malaysia.


Sunrise Beach in Koh Lipe, Thailand.

Sunrise Beach in Koh Lipe, Thailand.


Paradise Beach, Koh Kradan, Thailand.

Paradise Beach, Koh Kradan, Thailand.


Charlie Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand.

Charlie Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand.


The hammocks at the beachfront outside my hostel in Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia.

The hammocks at the beachfront outside my hostel in Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia.

Nature

National Park in Koh Lipe, Thailand.

National Park in Koh Lipe, Thailand.


Weatherlighting at Charlie Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand.

Weatherlighting at Charlie Beach, Koh Mook, Thailand.


Vines hanging across the path in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

Vines hanging across the path in Koh Lanta, Thailand.


Paradise Cave in the Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam.

Paradise Cave in the Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam.

Posted by Patrick Mack 08:14 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

The Snake Temple

Georgetown, Malaysia


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The Snake Temple can be reached easily by public transport from Georgetown on the way to the airport. It is a small Buddhist temple where pit vipers have settled down over time.

The sand pit for incense sticks is the typical entrance greeting in Buddhist temples.

The sand pit for incense sticks is the typical entrance greeting in Buddhist temples.

The Snake Temple

The vipers are generally venomous, but Wikipedia says these have been de-venomed for precautions.
There are always some people that need to be reminded of this.

There are always some people that need to be reminded of this.

The vipers are pretty calm and chill inside the temple on coat racks.

The vipers are pretty calm and chill inside the temple on coat racks.

Anyway, the snakes just hang out there and don't do much, similar to wild alligators in Florida.

Anyway, the snakes just hang out there and don't do much, similar to wild alligators in Florida.

The Snake Zoo

Attached to the temple is a small zoo with various snakes on display.
You can hold some snakes for a photo op, and a small fee of course.

You can hold some snakes for a photo op, and a small fee of course.


It has dry, leathery skin and feels pretty muscular.

The albino python was not even the longest snake, there was also a huge boa constrictor (no photos).

The albino python was not even the longest snake, there was also a huge boa constrictor (no photos).


However, it was definitely the prettiest one and I was allowed into the cage and pet the python.

However, it was definitely the prettiest one and I was allowed into the cage and pet the python.

The Dinner

Pad Thai from the night market and lemon juice in a plastic bag.
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Posted by Patrick Mack 01:48 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Saigon Sightseeing, Part 3

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


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The War Remnants Museum

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History is written by the victors. Though there is probably no shortage of mistreatments by the Viet Cong, this museum focusses on the actions of the US American imperialist forces (sic, as they are described on inscriptions and explainig texts) during the war which the Vietnamese call the American War. The Wikipedia page on the subject tries to be as impartial as possible. Nevertheless, seeing the photographs and descriptions of tortures of POWs, war crimes against civilian population, general tactics employed, usage of the infamous Napalm and baby deforming Agent Orange (still active in the 3rd generation!) and the on-going plague of unexploded ordnance (UXO - a topic that will reoccur in Cambodia) you really understand way better where the hippie peace movement in the US came from. Also, together with the inefficient to non-existent de-Nazification in post WWII Germany, you also understand better how the German Student Movement of 1968 up to the radicalisation of the Baader-Meinhof group came to be with these gruesome depiction of a merciless war, beamed into your living room by TV and visible in color daily in the news tabloids.

I did not include any photos of the sad deformations and disabilities due to Agent Orange, but this part of the exhibition is particularly gruesome and truely heartbreaking.

You leave the site with a similar empty and sad feeling of Weltschmerz like after visiting Auschwitz.
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"Members of the 1st Air Cavalry use water torture on a prisoner 1968". That sounds familiar.

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"The sewer where the 3 grandchildren of Mr. Bui Van Vat were hiding and killed by GIs." Hmm...

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"CBS television cameras capture the moment this US Marine set fire to a peasant's hut in the village of Cam Le (Quang Nam province) in August 1965, a scene reported by CBS correspondent Morley Safer (inset)."
Hmm...

Posted by Patrick Mack 10:04 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


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After the Killing Fields we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where the victims were held for interrogation and torture before they were executed in the Killing Fields. Photography was mostly prohibited here. There are many photos shown of inmates and also guards and torturers, many in their teen years. It is hard to believe how a regime could indoctrinate young people into doing such cruel acts against humanity.

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The prison was a former school, repurposed in a new society where education was deemed evil.
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The bleak appearance from the outside masks the horrors that lurk inside the cells that document the cruel treatment of the prisoners here.

Posted by Patrick Mack 09:28 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

The Killing Fields

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


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The Killing Fields of Choung Ek was the Khmer Rouge execution site for the prisoners of Security Prison 21 (S-21) in Phnom Penh.

The Mass Graves

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About 9000 bodies have been recovered from the mass graves here. Visitors get an audio guide and can walk between the sections at their own pace. That is indeed necessary, because you have to stop every now and again to grasp the incomprehensible amount of cruelty mankind is able to impose on its own kind. The bodies of the slaughtered have been put into mass graves here at a former Chinese cemetary. Over time, the mass graves became clearly visible as pits in the area.

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Rainstorms still wash up bones, blindfolds and clothes of the victims.

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The Killing Tree

This pit was reserved for woman and children. The signs speak for themselves.
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The Stupa

A Buddhist Stupa commemorates the victims of this site.
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As it is customary for the Cambodian commemorative culture of the genocide, the anonymous mortal remains recovered from the mass graves are on display for everyone to see. Additionally, the forensic evidence of the murders is displayed. I wonder if the Cambodians have problems with genocide deniers in the light of such visibility of the events in the seventies.
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Flowers and incense are ritual offerings for a visit at a stupa and pay respect to the humans that suffered here.

Posted by Patrick Mack 01:22 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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