Cambodia – My Father’s Perspective
Cambodia!! What an experience!! From the moment we stepped off the plane from Utopia In Singapore we realized we were completely in another world.
A country of 17 million people that has gone through hell during the genocide regime of the lunatic Pol Pot as leader of the Khmer Rouge party during the 1970’s. Even though there was irrefutable proof that he massacred and starved to death between 1 and 2 million of his own people, the Western world continued to support this clown and his party for over 15 years. The UN even gave him a seat in the UN. That confirms more in my mind than ever that the UN has become a huge useless bureaucracy that really has no relevance in today’s world.
But back to 2013 and our wonderful experience in Cambodia. We stayed for 2 days in Siem Reap, a northern city of about 300,000 people, where we enjoyed viewing some fantastic architecture in temples from the 11th – 12th centuries. An amazing feat considering that most of the rocks for the temples were built with rocks from a mountain 60 kms away. These temples are comparable to the pyramids in Egypt. As well we toured a floating village, which gives a new meaning to us in Canada, of a floating village as most of the original houses that were built near ground level were immersed in water to the eaves. This is truly the rainy season as reports coming out of the media are claiming that two thirds of the country is currently under water. When flying back in the daylight to Singapore and looking down on Cambodia I believe those reports to be true. Water, water everywhere!!
Then we moved onto Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, a city of 4 million people. This is the comeback city for the Cambodians. Even though there are still lots of people living in extreme poverty the city is growing in leaps and bounds. Construction everywhere!!!! Huge new buildings and major highways. Hopefully they aren’t building more government offices as there seems to be no end of elaborate government buildings already in existence. We just had a fantastic time touring around in the main source of transportation in Cambodia, the world renowned Tuk Tuk. This tuk tuk is a little different than the one in Thailand which is a one piece unit. In Cambodia they have these 4 seater two wheeled carts attached to 160 cc motorcycles. The “Honda Dream ” I’m sure has 75% of the tuk tuk market. Motorcycle Alley is 3 city blocks long on both sides of the street with new motorcycle dealers. Only saw two Harleys in the whole city. Small, small motorcycles here.
The Cambodian people are the meekest people that I have ever met as a society. Our Tuk Tuk driver, who we hired for the 5 days, had limited English language skills and consequently took us to a few places that we hadn’t asked to go. He was very apologetic for doing that with his hands folded and bowing to us as in prayer. He even wanted to buy us our dinner one night because of his mixups. Can you imagine that taking place in Canada!? Combined with our limited grasp of the Cambodian language we did a lot of hand signing and signals to get our messages across. On most roads, other then the major 4 lane highways, everyone just drives where ever they wish. There doesn’t seem to be any road rage as everybody just gives way to whatever is needed to keep the motorcycles and tuk tuks moving. I can’t imagine this taking place in Western world cities where somebody would step out and pound you if you cut them off!!! Once again the Cambodian culture of meekness.
We spent one day reviewing the history at the time of the Pol Pot regime during the 1970’s. A very moving and sombre time as we viewed the so called “Killing Fields” where Pot’s regime took the people that didn’t agree with his philosophy of what a pure race of people that he was going to create. At these fields he made the people dig these massive graves and then just killed the people to fill them in every inhumane way he could. There were over 50 of these fields disbursed throughout Cambodia. We finished up that day reviewing a former school that was supposed to be a jail but was really a torture chamber to remind the people of Cambodia that Pol Pot was really a warped and insane individual. Hard to believe that “so called” humans can do this to their fellow man. Every day I think how fortunate myself and our families were to be born in Canada, a real land of opportunity.
I believe Gwen is talking about our housebuilding and orphanage tour so I will leave that segment to her. The rest of the time was spent touring the city, eating great food and drinking cheap beer. “Angkor” and “Cambodian” beer were the most popular and the cheapest. In most restaurants beer was anywhere from $1 to $1.50 US for beer. Lots of different food and most restaurants also provided Western cuisine. Ate “crocodile” one evening and it truly does taste like chicken. Ha! Ha!
We are just leaving for the airport again this morning to fly to Bali for 5 days of fun and relaxation. What a trip we’ve had!!! Life doesn’t get any better!