Cambodia: From the Marvels of Angkor to the Horror of Toul Sleng
Cambodia was the second country I visited during my first trip to South East Asia. I entered the country from the Isaan region of Thailand. Isaan sees relatively few foreign visitors. I guess because of this, there were no onward buses to destinations further into the country after I crossed into Cambodia. The Thai people that had been on the bus from Surin with me were traveling to Cambodia to buy cheap goods for sale right on the border. The number of people crossing here that needed some public transportation to elsewhere was too small to warrant the presence of a bus station or even a bus stop. I hadn’t reckoned on that.
A Cambodian border guard told me that if I wanted to continue on right away I would have to take a taxi and he offered to call me one. And he did.
About 100 meters into Cambodia the asphalt surface came to an abrupt end and a very rutted dirt road began. The taxi driver had to go slowly as the car wallowed from side to side and up and down over the hillocks that were the road. Filthy shoe-less children with barely any clothes were playing in the fields. The houses – huts would be more accurate – were made of bamboo and straw and in a dilapidated state. One of these huts had been burnt to the ground. Thailand was the land of milk and honey compared to this. I certainly had not seen such depths of poverty there.