During a two-week motorcycle journey across Cambodia, Matador contributor Allen Burt experiences the contrasts of a country steeped in beauty and ancient grandeur, yet overshadowed by a recent bloody past.
THE ROAD IS NARROW and the traffic is…interesting? Cows wander aimlessly, playing a perpetual game of Frogger with each passing bus and farm tractor. Locals scream by on scooters hauling everything from live chickens and hogs to dressers and bed frames.
I’m stuck in the middle of the madness — clinging to the seat of a rusty dirt bike I learned to ride yesterday. My companions and I have set out to pierce the heart of this misunderstood country, and it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Our journey begins in Phnom Penh…
Tuol Sleng Prison, Phnom Penh
1. Grasping the unthinkable horrors of the S21 prison, where over 17,000 prisoners were interrogated, tortured, and executed during the Khmer Rouge rein -- only a handful survived.
Tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh
2. The impact of our visit to S21 and the "Killing Fields" hangs heavy during a moto-taxi ride through downtown Phnom Penh.
Riding a motorbike in Cambodia
3. Forced off the road by a local bus, we regroup before continuing our journey south to the coast.