Cambodia – 2014

The landscape

My trip to Cambodia was quite a unique experience for me and I fell totally in love with both the country and the people. I had heard and read a bit about what the Red Khmer had done to their own people, but they murdered about 1/3 of the population under the pretence of clearing the nation of the impurity of the original Cambodian culture. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Even though it isn’t so long ago, that the genocide took place, it looks like the people lives in harmony with the past. I could hear the sadness when the people, who remembered what happened, talked about their experience. For example, a young boy pointed out an empty house, that I had photographed, and told me that no one wanted to come near it, because the Red Khmer had taken the residents and killed them. And therefore the house was fenced off and would be empty and people regarded it as an “evil” place. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

On the Road …

The Country

The sovereign state of Cambodia has a population of over 15 million. The official religion is TheravadaBuddhism, practised by approximately 95 percent of the population. Cambodia’s minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic and cultural centre of Cambodia. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

The kingdom is an elective constitutional monarchy with a monarch, currently Norodom Sihamoni, chosen by the Royal Council of the Throne as head of state. The head of government is the Prime Minister, currently Hun Sen, the longest serving non-royal leader in Southeast Asia, ruling Cambodia since 1985. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Tonlé Sep Lake and it’s People

The Tonlé Sap Lake occupies a geological depression (the lowest lying area) of the vast alluvial and lacustrinefloodplain in the lower Mekong basin, which has been induced by the collision of the Indian Plate with the Eurasian Plate. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

The lake’s size, length and water volume varies considerably over the course of a year from an area of around 2,500 km2 (965 sq mi), a volume of 1 km3 (0.24 cu mi) and a length of 160 km (99 mi) at the end of the dry season in late-April to an area of up to 16,000 km2, a volume of 80 km3 (19 cu mi) and a length of 250 km (160 mi) as the Mekong maximum and the peak of the southwest monsoon’sprecipitation culminate in September and early-October. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

The Slum in Phnom Penh

Once known as the “Pearl of Asia,” it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia. Founded in 1372, the city is noted for its historical architecture and attractions. It became the national capital in 1434 following the fall of Angkor, and remained so until 1497. It regained its capital status during the French colonial era in 1865. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered along the grand boulevards. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Khmer Rouge regime, 1975–1978

The Khmer Rouge reached Phnom Penh and took power in 1975. Led by Pol Pot, they changed the official name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea. The new regime modelled itself on Maoist China during the Great Leap Forward, immediately evacuated the cities, and sent the entire population on forced marches to rural work projects. They attempted to rebuild the country’s agriculture on the model of the 11th century, discarded Western medicine and destroyed temples, libraries, and anything considered Western. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

Estimates as to how many people were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime range from approximately one to three million; the most commonly cited figure is two million (about a quarter of the population). This era gave rise to the term Killing Fields, and the prison Tuol Sleng became notorious for its history of mass killing. Hundreds of thousands fled across the border into neighbouring Thailand. The regime disproportionately targeted ethnic minority groups. The Cham Muslims suffered serious purges with as much as half of their population exterminated. Pol Pot was determined to keep his power and disenfranchise any enemies or potential threats, and thus increased his violent and aggressive actions against his people. (GHs – Wikipedia 2020)

I am convinced that Cambodia is one of the most beautiful places that exists; with all its magnificent culture and beautiful ancient places, e.g. Angkor Vat and the water-people, to name a few. The people are exceptionally welcoming and hospitable and the gratitude regarding giving you their time and access to their homes, which are often ill equipped due to poverty, even so the people are very happy. An example on how unequally divided Cambodia is then you experienced amazing gratitude when you gave them a few dollars. But in the next city you could see a new Bentleys and Rolls Royces for sale in a posh house – and I couldn’t help it, but I felt a little bit ashamed to be Westerner. It seems that Cambodia is slowly, but surely, going in the direction of Western culture – but the question is how good that is for the country and the nation? © GHs 2020

© GHs 2020