Tears in Cambodia

Trip Start Jan 28, 2013
1
19
43
Trip End Mar 09, 2013


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

From 1863-1953 the French ruled Cambodia as a protectorate. After the French left, the king came to power, followed by the establishment of the Khmer Republic in 1970. This was a time of war in SE Asia including US bombing of the country near the close of the Vietnam War. In April 1975 Pol Poi took power with the goal of turning Cambodia into a model Communist state. Within three days his soldiers emptied Phnom Penh, sending people to farm in the country. This was a time of starvation and killing with an estimated three million out of seven million Cambodians not surviving. In 1979 the North Vietnamese invaded, chased the Khmer Rouge into the jungles, and retained power for 10 years. In the past twenty years the country of Cambodia has come a long way to rebuild their country and to finally have peace.

This morning we learned about the events that occurred when Pol Poi and the Khmer Rouge were in power. We visited the Tuol Sleng Museum which was a high school turned into a prison by the Khmer Rough and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. We met one of the two remaining survivors of the prison. Note: While I took many pictures, I will not be posting them.

Before lunch we stopped at the Russian Market (so named because it was where the Russian teachers shopped during the Vietnam occupation) for some quick shopping. Lunch was spectacular. We then visited the National Museum which houses works of art; our museum tour guide helped us understand the statues and art we will soon see at Angkor Wat.  Next was the Royal Palace though we couldn't go into some parts as they were preparing for the former king's cremation ceremony. We did explore the grounds and walked around the stupas, the Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokot), and viewed a display of the coronation of the present king.

Dinner was at a nearby restaurant which is sponsored by a NGO (non-governmental agency) to provide job skills for children who previously lived on the streets. Excellent food, excellent service, great pictures created by children on the walls.
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