We're Never Coming Back

  email me at duncdafunc@gmail.com or check out my latest photos here

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from dunc_da_func. Make your own badge here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Day 297 - The Shooting Range, Phnom Penh

cambodia Happiness is a warm gun...

So, we're back in Phnom Penh. The journey was classic cambodian - late arrival, slow, seats too narrow (cambodia people have tiny skeletons it seems), air con too cold, and it stopped at every tiny hut we passed. And despite only being a 2.5hour journey, it took us over 4hours and dragged on into eternity. But we made it off the bus, to a hostel and before long we were eating pizza and curry and goofing around with the street kids like their our old friends. Its great to be back.

Now, when we were here before, we all decided against the opportunity to visit a shooting range. Here's the thing - Phnom Penh has a small surplus of weapons, from the end of the Khmer Rouge's reign. And some very industrious cambodians have set up firing ranges where you can pay $30 to fire a magazine of machine gun bullets at a target. Honestly, its not something I really like the idea of. I'm not into guns, or their power that much. I'll happily blow someone's head off in Grand Theft Auto, but I think its a bit weird paying to shoot one, and I'm a bit scared of the danger involved. I know - i'm a wimp. that's me.

But anyway, before when we were here, eve RELUCTANTLY agreed not to go to the shooting range. this time, she's going. and she's going wild with excitement. so we pay our tuk-tuk driver, who bombs us 30minutes into the suburbs of Phnom Penh. Its a bit eerie - we're driving down dirt roads, past military training grounds, abandoned kids playgrounds, old stinking lakes filled with rubbish bags and brown water. We're getting further from civilisation and its intimidating. We're going to a place where we know that they have guns. with our digital cameras and dollars. this is wrong.


But then we arrived, and the smiling workers greet us and thrust a 'menu' into our hands. The walls are lined with real guns - massive machine guns, shotguns, pistols, revolvers, everything. Some are huge. Some are tiny. I pick one up, point it at my mouth and take a photo. The guy comes over and very strictly tells me that "this is not funny" and takes the (not loaded) gun out of my hand and puts it back.



Eve's bouncing around with excitement, and before long she's picked out a pop on an AK47 and a go on a pistol. I didn't even really know what an AK47 was (except for having used one in Grand Theft Auto - the computer game) until he pulls the huge gun off the racks and places it on its stand. We're issued with proper serious ear-protectors and eve lines herself up. And shoots.

The noise is unreal. In the headphones, it sounds like a massive 'WHOP' - dull and stunted. Without the headphones, its piercing. The cartridge pings out from the gun and you can hear the bullet rip through the target wall at the other end of the firing range. Eve reels with the shock. Sam and I back off. She's got 20 rounds to fire. Before long she's firing 3 at a time, still blistering our ear-drums with each round and a shower of cartridges spraying from her. The perfect purple nails wrapped arond the trigger make the whole thing so surreal.


Its funny. I've seen guns on tv. I've had one in my face in mexico. I never knew they were so bloody loud. its unreal.

Anyway, she's not the best aim i've ever seen, but she managed to hit the guy square in the head which is pretty impressive. Next she's onto the pistol and firing of rounds like a professional. Aim's all off again, but she looks amazing.

And then she goes and points the gun into my face. As if I'm not haunted by this stuff already, she whizzes around and points it right at me. I duck like a girl and through my ear-protectors I can hear myself shouting "what the f--- are doing?", much to the amusement of the guys who worked there. The guns not loaded. Its fine. Stupid girl.

And then we're done and eve's smiling from ear to ear. like a bit mental. blood thirsty. I dunno. she's always mental like that. anyway, we head back, just in time to do some more charity work with the local kids. Its amazing - again. More photos, more favourites, more bruises from the little brats climbing all over us. And even more rewarding. This stuff is amazing.

And to finish the day we eat pizza, laugh about the guns and await the imminent arrival of TOM!

This is what I like about travelling. Its not just about who you meet, its about how often you meet them. So here goes: we met tom in brazil. then we met eve in new zealand. then in new zealand we saw tom again, and it seems eve had met him in Argentina. we all saw each other in Queenstown (NZ) (except sam), then we (not eve) met tom in sydney. we then met eve in sydney again, left her in melbourne, then saw her again in veitnam, and now we're in cambodia and tom emails to say he's HERE, and coming to meet us. you got that, right?

So, tom arrives, we laugh for hours, catching up on his hedonistic life in sydney, and the next day sam takes him on a vip tour of all the things we did last week - S21, Killing fields, shooting range etc. while eve and I head to the russian market which sells local clothes. It seems that its perfectly acceptable in cambodia to wear pyjamas. On motorbikes, to the shops, in the streets. Women EVERYWHERE and children EVERYWHERE don't wear clothes. they wear pyjamas. so, being a bit of an idiot, I bought myself some shorts and played along. Neon green with thai letters on them - they're perfect. I now look like a white street kid - minus the dirty hands and face.

and then the evening descends and tom and I hit the local nightclub. Its called "the heart of darkness" and stricks fear into sam's heart with its thorough door-search policy (they're looking for drugs, knives and guns according to the sign), so she stays home. We're not afraid though, and managed to rope an old gay dude to come too. He's a bit creepy, so we're kinda ignoring him as we dance to the bizarre mix of very old and very new pop, when suddenly he shoots off out the front door with an 18-year-old looking prostitute boy. He was cute too. creepy.

and then tom and I get drunk, decide its time to leave, at which point I head for a final wee. and when I stumble back, he's deep in conversation with the (above) girl, and invites her and her mate back to our hostel. OK - this is mortifying. Tom's totally at liberty to do what he wants with who he wants. But there's been a huge misunderstanding. Tom, the self-confessed homophobe, seems to have assumed that I'll take his girl's best friend off his hands, so he can get dirty with his girl. But, as you should all know by now, is not my style.

anyway, we head back to the hostel (tom has his own room) and sit with the girls for about an hour. They speak NO english. none. we speak no khmer. My girl (she's not mine by choice, remember) clings to my shoulder. I edge off the bed onto the floor. She's confused. she comes and sits next to me on the floor. I explain that I'm seeing someone. she's not phased. tom's kissing, so I'm basically on my own. I show her photos to prove I'm seeing someone. This confuses her. Why am I kissing a boy? She points, asking if the other boy is Tom. I laugh. Its not. She's persistant. For a whole hour, I'm trying to keep her at bay, and she's feeling rejected. I could kill Tom for this.

And eventually I make my excuses and go to leave for my own room. My girl stands up. I'm like "no, sorry". gesturing for her to stay put. she's confused. unhappy. I slip out the door and don't return. In the morning we find out that after I left, tom's girl asked him for some cash to stay the night. he declined. the girls left. he's a beast.

Anyway, enough of Phnom Penh. We book ourselves on a morning bus ride 6hours north to the town of Kratie (nobody seems to know how to pronounce this place, but I think its krach-eh) where apparently we can swim with dolphins in the mekong... sure - if you wanna catch dissentry.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home