Siem Reap Shooting Range
This was one of the highlights of the trip, just for the sheer madness of it.
There are many shooting ranges in Cambodia the best one being located near Phnom Penh. These places are advertised to tourists as shooting ranges, where you can fire almost any old weapon for a price. In reality these ranges are actually Vietnamese Army bases. I asked the tuk tuk driver to take us to the shooting range near Siem Reap. It’s quite a drive away from the town, especially with the slower tuk tuks, however its an enjoyable one. You get a better sense of Cambodian life as you drive away from the tourist spots.
The journey took us straight through the rice fields, passing many small villages with bamboo houses raised from the ground. I’m guessing this is because the area is prone to flooding. Rice fields stretch as far as the eye can see in every direction. The roads that cut through the countryside seemed to be raised high also, every mile or so we would pass by a group of people working in the fields. They were harvesting the rice from the flooded fields.
Passing by small villages we began to see more and more people. This time they were making sugar from the sugar palm tree. Finally we arrived at the shooting range; at the entrance there was a sign that clearly said “Vietnam Army”. We began driving down the long dusty road to the base, which had to be the bumpiest road in Cambodia, it felt like the wheels on the cart like tuk tuk where going to buckle off.
Halfway down the road we were stopped by an army official, who started talking to the tuk tuk driver, he later briefly translated using his broken English. It turns out the official was warning the driver that he could not allow us into the base, as some kind of inspection by the Cambodian government was happening, he told us to come back later. This must be corruption at the highest level, extracting money from the Vietnam army. Corruption it may be but fun it was.
Siem Reap Landmine Museum
To kill sometime we were driven to the nearby Land Mind Museum, which actually happened to be an informative visit. A small entrance fee to get into the museum, this was said to go to the landmine clearing efforts. Its estimated that 3-7 million land mines still exist in Cambodia, I thought this was a unbelievable statistic and shows how dangerous it is for the people living in Cambodia.
Throughout the separate rooms, the history of the the Khmer Rouge was explained, with hundreds of deactivated mines and weapons giving you a shocking outlook of the Khymer Rouge Regime. The process of mine disposal is explained; with so many minds being planted and never documented it makes it so hard for the disposal teams to find them. The only way to find them is to wait until one has been activated and then go and clear the whole area. One of the remarkable things I noticed is that most of the mine disposal teams were actually members of the Khymer Rouge and had each planted thousands of mines years ago. These are the same mines that they are now clearing and even they can’t remember where they planted them all.
See my full Siem Reap photo album, for many photos from the landmine museum.
Firing the AK47 at Siem Reap shooting range
After a few hours had passed we travelled back to the shooting range. This time we were allowed to drive straight through, with hundreds of Vietnamese soldiers stood outside the barracks, shooting to us. I think they were trying to be friendly and use their English, but I’d have to say the drive through is quite scary in itself. Arriving at the range as was a little disappointed to see it was inside. I was hoping for an outdoor range like the one near Phnohm Penh, where you can throw grenades and fire RPG’s, nevertheless it was a very unique experience. I was handed a “Gun Menu” there were many weapons to choose from, as you can see from the photo, but I had to go with the classic AK47. It cost around £20 to fire a clip of 30 bullets on the AK, the prices varied from gun to gun.
Time to shoot the target, with nothing said I handed over the money and was taken behind the glass screen and handed the loaded AK47. With only a pair of ear muffs I proceeded to fire the weapon. Id never fired a gun before this, I didn’t really have a clue how to hold it or aim it, regardless the experience felt awesome. Feeling the sheer power of the gun in single fire mode, I tried to reach the target. It seemed like I was aiming right at it but the bullets seemed to be going anywhere, there’s more to it than I thought. Switching to fully automatic I fired off about ten rounds in next to no time, the gun was so loud and the flare in the dark room looked mad. Here I was feeling like Rambo firing the AK, I had to get this on video, ill post a small clip here shortly.
All in all I’d recommend this experience for anyone. The adrenaline rush you get is well worth the time and money. If you are going to Phnohm Penh, save your money and go to the one there, with lots more weapon choice and an outdoor range. Just don’t choose the option to blow up a cow with an RPG!
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