Thursday, September 26, 2013

Musings about Cambodia

We got our visas to Vietnam figured out yesterday, so we're off to Vietnam today.  Before my memories of Cambodia and Vietnam start to get commingled, I thought I should write down a few thoughts about Cambodia.
It's obviously a poor country, but nothing like East Africa.  Primary means of transportation is motor bikes.  Traffic moves very slowly and there appear to be no rules of the road.  But it's just that the rules are so different from anything we know that everything looks haphazard.  Again unlike Africa, there are very few buses and none of the 16 people (it would be 6-7 in the US) passenger buses that are everywhere there. So there is more wealth here than some other third world countries.  Instead of buses they have a lot of tuk-tuks, which are the customized motor bikes turned into open air taxis.  They are everywhere.

The people are very happy, friendly, and helpful.  Never a concern for ones safety.  Lots of good restaurants and coffee shops.  Some US fast food places like Burger King and KFC are here, but I didn't see a McDonalds.  Ruled by a King and by a Prime Minister (think I said President in an earlier blog).  Distant history seems to be embraced, but the genocide by the Kymer Rouge in the 70's is officially ignored... The leader Pot Pol was never arrested and died of a heart attack, and trials of two others have just recently been started.

Phnom Penh was a city of close to 2 million people in 1975 when the Kymer Rouge told everyone to evacuate to the countryside and leave everything behind because the Americans we going to bomb the city. They lied.  Those few people who stayed were killed in their homes and their homes destroyed.  Nearly everyone that left the city was killed as the edict was that anyone that was educated, was a teacher, a professional, a business person, wore glasses, was an urban dweller, or questioned the KR was to be executed.  Wthin three weeks, a city of nearly 2 million people was a complete ghost town.

A few years ago, Nestl√© gave Hagar a large facility which Hagar has leased to a local micro brewery called Kingdom Beer.  Of course, we had to stop by before leaving for the airport to make sure the beer actually tasted okay.  It was great! Hagar is not only unique in the work they do, but also unique in using partnerships in businesses to provide income to supplement donations.

On to Vietnam!

Frank Thomas

1 comment:

  1. Just caught up on your travels Frank. What an experience it had to have been in Cambodia after watching the news, reading books, etc.. over the atrocities, to actually be right where those awful things happened years ago. Safe travels to Vietnam.