Ros Sokhet, tried to get to Pailin through the backdoor by using a short
detour via Thailand.
PHUM DOUNG - The best way to get to this Khmer
Rouge controlled village from anywhere else in Cambodia is to pass thru Thailand
- in fact its almost the only way, at least from Battambang.
And it helps
to have a bundle of Thai baht to pay for the fares along the way.
the Cambodian policemen at the Thai border readily accept their backhanders in
To get to Phum Doung, which sits about 15km within Cambodian
territory near the western border, you start out from Battambang, pass thru
Sisophon and take a taxi down Route 5 to Poipet. A turn-off about 2km from
Poipet gets you to Ou Chruv (Deep Ditch) and the Thai border.
Post was stopped by a group of Cambodian policemen lounging around. One, lying
in a hammock, asked: "Where are you going to?"
Told that the reporter
wanted to see a relative in Pailin whom he had visited before, the policeman
asked for identification cards and held out his hand for 300 baht.
eventually haggled down to 200 baht, and waved the reporter through. On the
other side of the border are the Thai taxi drivers, waiting for Cambodian
"No problem for you to pass onto Thai soil to get to Khmer
Rouge territory," lectured one driver, "but you can't stay for days or hours on
For 200 baht, the driver takes his Khmer passenger 3km down the
road and crosses back into Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge-controlled Phum Khla
Ngorp (Dead Tiger Village).
There, dozens of KR villagers sell a variety
of goods imported from Thailand, including beer, vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs,
chickens, rice, clothes and even perfume and make-up.
sat in cafes, lunching, drinking beer and smoking.
From there its a 60
baht moto ride - from a Khmer Rouge villager - to Phum Doung, a rebel camp 60
kms. north of Pailin.
Oum Phen, the Khmer Rouge cadre who says he has
been in charge of Phum Doung since 1979, tells you that you can go no
All the Khmer Rouge civilians have been moved out of Pailin;
it's strictly soldiers-only there now.
In and around Phum Doung,
advertising posters in Thai appear on trees and are pasted to shop fronts,
restaurants and houses.
Oum Phen says he cannot give figures on the
number of Thai businesses which were in Pailin until civilians were ordered