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War tourism: Firing bazookas in Cambodia

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War tourism junkies who aren’t yet ready to fly off to places like Iraq or Syria have options in friendlier places. One of them is Cambodia, the south-east Asia nation that was once plagued with more misery than it’s almost possible to imagine. One result of that is a great redundancy of weapons of all kinds – hand guns, kalashnikovs, the odd grenade and whole tanks that were left by imperial forces.

[pullquote]I did a little 3-2-1 countdown and pulled the trigger. BAMMMM! — Hippie Van Man[/pullquote]The Cambodians, entrepreneurial as they are, have made good use of this surplus, inviting war-longing tourists to blow holes in cardboard soldiers and unlock safety hatches. All for a healthy fee.

→ RELATED Cambodia guide: Journey through horror and leisure

I’ve been to a place just outside Phnom Penh myself and fired an ancient Russian-made Kalashnikov – and I have to admit it is kind of fun. The outfit I went to could even provide the enjoyment of firing off a rocket from an old tank.

But there are other weapons too, like bazookas, or RPG’s, that you can have the pleasure (?!) to use. This blogger that we found on, did just that. The bazooka event, blogger Hippie Van Man reports, was too good to resist:

I was traveling on a tight budget, trying to keep my expenses to $250 a week max. But there are times when you have to throw caution to the wind and say to yourself, “F#$% the budget” and just do it. The prices for most of the guns were around $1-$2 per bullet. The cost of firing an RPG, Priceless. Just kidding, the cost of shooting the RPG is $300 for one shot. At first I thought, it was way to expensive and there was no way I could justify throwing down so much money for one shot.

The experience included a trip behind military boundaries:

The base we were at had a small firing range, sufficient for machine guns and pistols, but not adequate for blowing sh!t up. Upon making my decision, we (my guest house owner, his cousin and two military officers) hopped into one of the Cambodian military officers cars (an early 90’s Toyota Camry of course), and drove to another base 20km further out from the city, making a stop along the way so I could withdrawal money.

We arrived at the second base and made our way to the middle of a big open field with mountains in the backdrop, after passing through two armed checkpoints.

Blogger Hippie Van Man fires a bazooka. Photo:

Blogger Hippie Van Man fires a bazooka. Photo:

Then here it goes:

The camera was rolling and I did a little 3-2-1 countdown and pulled the trigger. BAMMMM! a rocket shot away from us at such a fast rate I lost sight of it. The huge cloud of smoke we were standing in didn’t help. After about 5 seconds I still hadn’t heard an impact explosion and thought maybe it had gone over the mountain or it was a dud. After a good 7-10 seconds I heard an explosion way off in the distance (before the mountain) and saw a small mushroom cloud poof up from the ground.

He goes on with a few words of warning:

This experience isn’t for everyone, and maybe shooting a handgun or machine gun will be more than enough to satisfy your childish dreams and Hollywood desires. But if you can find the nerve to splurge $300 on a once in a lifetime experience this isn’t a bad choice.

Read the blog post here


The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.