Thursday, July 2, 2009

22-23 June – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We followed the Mekong River south towards Cambodia. We felt very good. Once again we had stood up against the ugly face of corruption. You can of course question if it was worth two days of hardship. We felt that it was.
Cambodia’s history makes you cry. Wars, civil wars, mass murder, communist insanity, more mass murder. The Khmer Rouge are said to have caused the deaths of about two million people (a quarter of the population) during their reign 1975-1979. The Khmer Rouge were collectively insane. This meant that even if they were defeated by the Vietnamese, who marched in to save the three quarters of the population who were close to dying, in 1979, the Khmer Rouge under their lunatic leader Pol Pot continued to wage a war on the Cambodian people during the next 20 years until Pol Pot died in 1998. The Khmer Rouge leadership is still to receive their punishment. Several of them are in leading positions in Cambodia today. The children of Cambodia are not taught about the Khmer Rouge in school. The subject is said to be too complicated.
In Phnom Penh we were invited to stay with Karl-Anders who works with Swedish development programs in Cambodia. Thank you for your hospitality Karl-Anders!
We did the tourist things in Phnom Penh as well.
We can report that the Silver Pagoda has a guard at the gate who wants people to bribe him in order to be let in. In our case, he did not realize who he was messing with until he stood there with his pants around his ankles.
After a visit to the National Museum and lunch at Friend’s (excellent place where street kids are given a second chance), the girls demanded to have their nails done. Glittery silver color. Beautiful!
We loved the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a classic colonial institution by the confluence of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong Rivers. This is the place to spend some spare time in Phnom Penh!

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