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February 26, 2004

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From Angkor Wat we make the arduous journey by beat-up minivan to Bangkok, an all day endurance test. Roads on the Cambodian side could be used as 4 wheel drive test tracks, and the bus drivers seem to be ex-race car drivers (at least in their own minds). We see a lot of Buddhist monks along the road and they remind us to 'keep cool, it's only life.'
Approaching the Thai border we enter Khmer Rouge territory. This organization wasn't officially outlawed by the Cambodian government until 1994 and Pol Pot died of natural causes in 1998. Even today, street billboards plead for people to turn in their weapons.
Every morning Buddhist monks make their rounds for alms. Shopkeepers give foodstuffs like rice, vegetables, and fruits; each monastery supports several hundred monks that live off food donations. Most young men live the monastic life for at least a few weeks of their life - it's like summer camp!
What else could we expect on the lawless border between Thailand and Cambodia? The bordertown, Poipet, is a mini-Las Vegas, and since border formalities take a long time here, people have a chance to bet a few dollars in the casinos that straddle the no-man's land between the two countries.