Choeung Ek Killing Fields, December 2015. After a couple of hours wandering around the unwaveringly grim Tuol Sleng Genocide Centre, the last thing I felt like doing was going out to The Killing Fields, the place where so many Cambodian prisoners were finally put out of their misery in the mid 1970s. But in many ways seeing Choeung Ek felt like a rite of passage, as if my travel mate and I had no right heading off for the beach oases of Sihanoukville and Ko Rong until we’d finished the historical journey we’d started.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, December 2015. It wasn’t all fun and games during my stay in Phnom Penh. Somewhere along the way my travel mate and I knew we had to stop by this former torture centre to learn more about Cambodia’s dark history. The atrocities carried out here by The Khmer Rouge in the 1970s were unspeakable, and while it was surely nobody’s idea of a fun morning, I felt we owed it to the victims to see the place, hear their stories and leave a silent prayer. Located right in the heart of the city, Tuol Sleng was one of at least 150 Khmer Rouge torture centers dotted around the country between 1975-1979.
City Panoramic, December 2015. Arriving in the smoky buzz of Phnom Penh felt like the perfect Asian daydream. Winding our way towards the hotel in our tuk-tuk, there were flashes of fluorescent market stalls, locals munching on sizzling meat sticks and the spectral forms of wobbly high-rises reflecting in the River Mekong. The next morning we awoke to a glorious day of blue-sky perfection, the sun shining so impossibly bright we could barely see.
Battambang Bamboo Train, December 2015. During my wanderings around Cambodia I met plenty of fellow travellers who didn’t even bother stopping in Battambang! I can’t help but feel they really missed out; from the kooky town itself with its excellent café and restaurant scene, to the amazing beauty and history of Phnom Sampeau and the immense fun of a trip on The Bamboo Train! The latter is one of the world’s most unique rail journeys, but you’ll only need to part with five Dollars of your hard earned cash for the bumpy twenty-minute ride from O Dambong out to the tiny settlement of Sra Lav.
Phnom Sampeau, December 2015. The curious little Cambodian town of Battambang offers visitors a handful of unique sights that stand right up there with the country’s must-see attractions. One of these is Phnom Sampeau, a massive limestone outcrop 12 kilometres outside the town centre. It’s a steep forty-minute walk up to its highest roads, or you can pay an entrepreneurial moto-man four dollars to whisk you up. About halfway up the hill a side road leads you under a gate into the site of Battambang’s grisly Killing Caves. It was here that the Khmer Rouge bludgeoned hundred of people to death and tossed their bodies through the skylights of the caves. A series of highly gruesome sculptures depict the atrocities, while down in the main cave itself there’s a glass case memorial of skulls and bones. Not for the fainthearted.
Loftus Road, December 2008. I think I was about five or six years old when my dad first took me to see Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. We were playing West Ham in a largely uneventful game that finished 0-0. Not the most auspicious start to my QPR journey and yet the place had me completely hooked, from the colourful language of the locals and the smell of sizzling burgers, to the team’s gorgeous blue-and-white-hooped shirts (best kit in Britain!) and the compact stadium itself with seats right on the edge of the pitch. As a teen I used to make regular trips in from Buckinghamshire and no matter what crazy corner of the world I lived in I’d always make it back for at least one or two games a season. This shot was taken when I was unexpectedly interviewed before a home match against Watford. I can’t remember what I was asked, or indeed anything I said, but it must have been more interesting than the game itself, another drab 0-0.
Hyde Park, September 2015. Every time I come to London I’m always amazed all over again at how green it is. I try to go and visit a different park each year and I’m nowhere near getting through everything. Hyde Park is the city’s obvious biggie at a whopping 145 hectares. Nabbed from The Church by Henry VIII in 1536, it was initially used for hunting, duels, horse racing and most popular of all in those days, public executions!