I smoked Cambodia in just one drag, and i got psycadelic and allucinant visions, big cambodian stuff!
As usual i like a short hystorical digression to make yourself at home: Cambodia, where Khmer people live, has had two main high spot in its history: the first one a thousand years ago where the Khmer empire, skilled and powerful, conquered most of Indochina and Thailand, creating the basis for culture and religion of these countries. The second one was after french colonialism and two world wars: from then on everything started degenerating, first with battles to kick out the french, then with forced involvement in the Vietnam war, that lead to a series of civil wars which ended up with the genocide set up by that crazy psycopath Pol Pot, even worst than his friends Hitler and Mao...
Shortly from 75 to 79 more than 2 million Khmer (2 million!) were killed by the foolish Khmer Rouge (themselves!), and all this crazyness was endorsed by Usa, Russia and China, isn't it amazing?
As all this tragedy happened recently, it's quite easy to meet the survivors (everybody over 40), and each one of them will openly tell you his story about this madness and his fightings for survival: killing or being killed...
After so much drama cambodians decided to stop killing each other pointlessly and now they smile towards life, sure they don't live in gold, but they're pleased of being alive and they live it up, a bit messily and noisely, but still happily and smilingly. Life jubilation.
What about me? With these basis i trained myself like Rambo in the jungle, ready to fight: after 2 hours i was in Cambodia i met this crazy finnish guy, and together we bought a paddling boat and we spent 6 days paddling down the Mekong!
Yes you got it: i bought a boat!!
We got it for 85 dollars, after a hard bargain!
At the pier the viking and I left, with a fist full of hope, paddling south following the stream, singing about Odin, viking god, hoping that he, Buddha and all the guys upthere won't forget about us!
Right before breaking a beer bottle against the "Queen of Mekong" i also decided to cut off hair and beard, it was the right time!
Then me 12 years younger and my friend happy like a 12 years old kid started paddling, with Stung treng town greeting us, the Mekong pioneers, with the famous Dead Kennedys music backgound: It's a holiday in CAMBODIA!
6 fucking wild days: wake up before sunrise, morning paddling under the heat with many smoke and diving stops, lunch in huts along the shores, afternoon easy paddling through small rapids, enjoying the wild and amazing nature and looking for the perfect desert sandy island where we spend the night, with a stunning sunset. Yeah!
Somebody allarmed us with some guerrilla fighers still working along the shores, but the only problem we faced was when, invited to a Khmer wedding lasting 2 days, after great food and drink we wished to say bye bye and leave; no way!
These people didn't let us go so i found myself dancing tribal Khmer music with this crazy and happy people! Rolling on the river!
After 5 days and 150 km passed on water we made it to Kratie, where i became a business man trying to sell the boat to some fisherman!
Obviously everybody in town knew that 2 barang (foreigners)were trying to sell an old and crappy boat, and after 2 days spent on the pier, looking for customers, i managed to get 35 bucks from this guesthouse owner, and now the "Queen of Mekong" has a new king, please take care of her!!
With cash in my pocket i entered Phnom Penh, capital city!
Crazy town, crazy people, crazy Marco.
A provincial capital, way bigger than what i was used in the last 3 months; the atmosphere is lively, colorful, dusty, hot and friendly, just the name Phnom Penh remind you to something messy and wild, but you know you'll have fun!
A zoo-city, on the streets you can spot elephants, monkeys, yellow dogs and UFO parked among buildings, be careful!
After this pseudo-metropolitan life in PP i finally reached the seaside, Ocean!
Could be poetic about my meeting with the sea, but i didn't waste my time and i spent 3 days on an island scuba diving, with fins on my feet and an air tank on my back, getting lost in this awesome world: along my travel i found out that where there's water there's life, here i've seen that where there's a lot of water there's a lot of life!
A psycadelic journey through fosforescent colors, intriguing shapes and misterious creatures, everything in slowmotion followed by bubbles, a great, hyper, mega stuff!
After Sihanoukville i reached Siem Reap, discovering the famous Angkor Wat ruins: the asiatic Machu Picchu.
A thousand-year old city-temple highlighting the importance of Khmer empire, that now the forest is slowly taking back, with trees roots absorbing the buddhist-hindu ruins, fascinating with this misterious junglish mood.
Once you are there you defenitively clap hands to Khmer people.
Wow, that's my Cambodia, Cambodia no limits!
Besides to all these adventures i made many interviews with genocide survivals, friendship with funny features and local beauties, amazing breakfasts with sweet rice, coconut milk and exotic fruits (aaaahhh... gimme more!!), tons of dust, pushbike rides grabbed to crappy tuk-tuk, sweaty hitchhike with my skate-wand (fixed for few days!) and here i am on the border to Thailand, where i refused a dollar to this american that had lost everything gambling and drinking in one of the many casino here around... dear my yankee we are sourrounded by poverty here, and my dollar surely won't be for you!
Cambodia grabs you and owerwhelms you, and i was pleased to share all this with these people, Phnom Penh will never be that far from me!
Ok, and finally the good news is that i have in my pocket a visa for Burma and a fly ticket for this long dreamed country!
I'll spend a couple of weeks in Bangkok surrounded by smog, skyscrapers and lots of entertainment, before flying to Yangon, see you there then!
Rock and Roll!