Friday, February 4, 2011

A frightening day in Cambodia

I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia on Thursday, Feb. 3rd. I'll write more when I get the chance, but I wanted to write this bit for those of you who aren't my Facebook friends.

Today (Friday) my friend and I went to visit the Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodia-Thai border, a 4 hour drive from Siem Reap. We had just arrived at the base of the mountain with another family, and were about to arrange for a ride up the mountain to visit the temple, when shooting and bombing began between Thai and Cambodian forces there. Immediately the soldiers led us into a hole at the base of the mountain. There were continual gunshots and grenade launcher shots. A couple of times the whine of the missile sounded a lot closer so we all had to lie flat on the ground.

I shot a video which is below. We had been hiding in the hole for about 20 minutes when the soldiers told us to leave quickly. The video starts as we were exiting the hole, but then the shooting and bombing started again, and we had to go back into the hole for safety. We stayed for about another 20 minutes, then the soldiers told us to escape quickly.

Although I'm smiling an laughing in some parts of the video, I believe that must be a reaction from nervousness, because believe me, at the time all I remember was being scared to death.

Our driver, who had been accompanied by his wife and teenage daughter, was instructed to take a different route by dirt roads to escape. On the way out we could see the flash of missiles in the air and the smoke from fires started on the hill. When we got to the nearby town the local villagers were packing up and the road got a bit crowded with trucks full of people leaving.

We're absolutely safe now, back in Siem Reap, but it was quite a frightening experience.

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