Danger!! Mines!!

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Typical Cambodian sign.
On our first night in Cambodia, Steve and I were out shopping for t-shirts, and found some printed with a skull and crossbones design that read, “Danger!! Mines!!”  The vendor indicated that this was a very funny t-shirt and that we should definitely buy one.

We didn’t get it at the time, but the design was a representation of the landmine warning signs that can be found all over this country. Estimates range from 3 million to 6 million live landmines and unexploded bombs in Cambodia. Children can and do lose limbs and their lives just by playing outside of their yard. It is obviously a serious issue that has garnered international attention, but to actually be here and see the effects up close somehow makes it more real to me. I didn't really get it before.
Information on the museum's founder, Aki Ra.


Today we learned a bit more about this huge problem at the The Cambodian Landmine Museum and Relief Center ($1 entrance fee) which is about 25 km outside of Siem Reap. This museum was founded by Aki Ra, a former Khmer Rouge soldier who now dismantles and deactivates land mines (some of which he himself may have planted!). His story is the kind of thing the media can really latch onto, so there were many newspaper articles about Aki Ra posted all about. I actually found the articles to be more informative than the museum signage, which was lacking. There were displays of landmines and bombs all around, and they had a garden set up with (deactivated) mines. Steve liked all this more than I did, and he took most of the photos I am posting. The center houses, educates, and feeds 12 children whose lives have been affected by landmines (i.
The rare "grenade tree." At the Landmine Museum.
e. they lost a limb or maybe a parent). I liked seeing their (smiling) photos and reading their stories… that was very touching. The center is doing good things here and is worth a visit.

From there, we went to have lunch at a place our driver recommended. We should have known better. It was a wedding banquet hall, huge and empty. Our food was not very good, and it was expensive. Live and learn.

The driver (on a roll now) also recommended the War Museum. This sounded good, as I expected it to have scads of information on Cambodia’s turbulent history. Nope. It was just an outdoor graveyard for rusting war machines -- tanks, guns, launchers, etc. There was no info other than where these things were manufactured (mostly the former USSR).
Rusting war machine (Ussr). War Museum.
Nothing has been maintained and it was all in pretty rough shape, and overgrown with weeds. The guns were not even locked down, and you could easily just take one of the shelf and walk off with it! I couldn’t have been less interested in all this metal. I gave it all a quick look and sat in the car to escape the mosquitoes while Steve toured and took pictures. At $3 per person, this place was a complete rip off. Steve bought a cool t-shirt for $5 (but…all other t-shirts in this city are $3!).

In the evening, we found ourselves back at the Blue Pumpkin. This place has a nice, diverse menu (with vegetarian options clearly marked). And again they did not let us down…I had a black-sesame tofu salad and Steve had the spicy chicken wrap. Both were incredibly flavorful. Two thumbs up.  

We didn’t even wander around town after dinner. We already knew there nothing much to do but drink. I’d say three days was definitely enough time here … we have already exhausted Siem Reap's entertainment options! Tomorrow we are off to Bangkok. (Now there’s a place with entertainment options!)

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Typical Cambodian sign.
Typical Cambodian sign.
Information on the museums founde…
Information on the museum's found…
The rare grenade tree. At the La…
The rare "grenade tree." At the L…
Rusting war machine (Ussr). War Mu…
Rusting war machine (Ussr). War M…
Entrance Sign.
Entrance Sign.
Entrance lined with bombs.
Entrance lined with bombs.
Various mines and explosive things…
Various mines and explosive thing…
Grenade rigged up as anti-personne…
Grenade rigged up as anti-personn…
Me at the Landmine Museum.
Me at the Landmine Museum.
Improvised anti-personnel device (…
Improvised anti-personnel device …
Mortar shell at the Landmine Museu…
Mortar shell at the Landmine Muse…
Go ahead, help yourself! Everythin…
Go ahead, help yourself! Everythi…
Machine gun at the War Museum.
Machine gun at the War Museum.
RPG at the War Museum.
RPG at the War Museum.
More machine guns at the War Museu…
More machine guns at the War Muse…
Minefield display at the War Museu…
Minefield display at the War Muse…
Anti-aircraft gun at the War Museu…
Anti-aircraft gun at the War Muse…
Piles of mortar shells at the War …
Piles of mortar shells at the War…
Piles of bombs. Deactivated, we ho…
Piles of bombs. Deactivated, we h…
Mortar shell exit signage at the W…
Mortar shell exit signage at the …
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling