April 1st was a big day for the Sundayfundayz crew. We left our hotel room in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and set off on an epic quest not knowing exactly what to expect. Two activities were on our itinerary, which we had our tuk-tuk driver Mr. Wii set up for us. We jumped in the tuk-tuk and got off nine or eleven minutes later at the Bangkok bus terminal where the taxi that Mr. Wii had arranged for us was waiting. We were then informed that Mr. Wii and two of his friends were going to join us on our adventure. Russia took shotgun, Ryker and I sandwiched a random Cambodian man in the back seat, and Parker and his new friend hopped in the trunk. What a gongshow.
The first stop was an intense, educational experience. As we pulled up to the “Killing Fields” there was an immediate feeling of both sadness and seriousness lingering in the air. This was the site that the Khmer Rouge (a communist party which is remembered because of the use of their policy of social engineering) acted out cultural genocide. Thousands of skulls were on display, old clothes of victims that had disintegrated into rags littered the property and there were signs that told visitors what the area in front of them had been used for. A particular sign that stands out in my memory is one that points out a tree that Khmer Rouge soldiers threw women and children against before burying them in one of the many mass graves scattered around the area. The “Killing Fields” was an eye opening experience that reminded us all that we were extremely fortunate to have been brought up in Canada.
Getting back into the taxi with Mr. Wii and our new friends, we began driving towards “the mountains”. This was an extremely uncomfortable, long ride, however we all had grins from ear to ear as we anticipated what was to come. We stopped at the side of the road an hour and a half into our trek and stocked up on beer, snacks and a 60 liter propane tank. Shooting an RPG or a rocket launcher had always been a childhood dream of each of us, and this dream was about to become true. I jumped in the trunk with Parker celebrated life by having a “road pop”, and waved at locals the rest of the way to the shooting range. When we arrived, we sat at a table with a few men who spoke broken English and negotiated what we wanted to shoot and how much it was going to cost. We turned down the opportunity to shoot a cow, chickens, and an old car. We agreed to pay 200 dollars to shoot the rocket launcher and 70 bucks to shoot a gatling gun. “Ones and Twos” and then “Rock, Paper, Scissors” seemed to be the appropriate way to decide who shot off the rocket. What do you know, I came out on top and was given the opportunity to shoot the RPG! For some reason, I gave this opportunity up and put the rocket back up for grabs. Russia ended up victorious this time around and was handed the giant gun. He was instructed how to aim at the 60 LITER PROPANE TANK that we had strategically set up in the field in front of our make shift bunker and then told to pull the trigger. THREE, TWO, ONE…. Click… The trigger was pulled and nothing happened. What a scary moment. We had no clue what happened and if the rocket was going to blow up in the launcher. Our “guide” began yelling as he sprinted towards Russia and then proceeded to disassemble the gun. After exchanging some parts of the rocket, he put it back together we were in business once again. Three, Two, One… BOOOOOM!!! I have never heard a blast like this one. The rocket took off, and fired “way to high”, over the propane tank and into the mountains. I wish I had ear protection in as my ears were ringing for the next four hours. We next brought out the gatling gun and began shooting at the untouched propane tank off in the distance. This explosion was massive, and exceeded all of our expectations. With a smile on each one of our faces (including our Cambodian friends) and the sun setting on the horizon, we cracked the last beers of our twenty-four pack and made our way back to Phnom Penh.
This day full of festivities was by far one of the most eventful and enjoyable experiences that we have had so far on our Sundayfundayz journey. We were exposed to the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge by learning about sobering historical events, and were able to make a child hood dream come true. The first of April was a great day.