Let's get emotional today !
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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Where I stayed
I went for a walk on my own as dad was still sleeping (and slept until 9:30 ! The world is upside down ! This man has been complaining all his life about my sleeping too late... And here I am, waiting for his royal highness to wake up when i am starving to death after a two hour walk in Phnom Penh early morning... Jeeeeez !)... So, by the time he woke up, got ready, and had breakfast with me, it was already... 11:00 ! We therefore had to rush to the French embassy : indeed, we plan on attending the "Bastille day" dinner at the French ambassador's residence :-)
Believe it or not, but the touk touk drove right past my dad's former house back in 1949... and believe it or not, it's still there ! And believe it or not : it's being renovated right now ! And believe it or not... Oh well, let's skip the french embassy part (uneventful : we got our invitations, and the French abroad are still as obnoxious as usual...) and let's get to the emotional part... : yes, believe it or not but after a short talk to the renovation manager, he gently let us in to visit the house... And - oh my god - can you believe the new owner is smart enough to renovate it as it was back then - "pre-war" as they say - and eve the tiles on the floor are still the same !!! Unbelievable ! Same as 62 years ago, after a civil war, a genocide, a ghost town... Wow. Emotions. Dad was not hoping that much... And there it was...
There it was, as if it was waiting for us... We got in there. Dad showed me around : "there's the dining room, and that's where dad used to have his desk... Oh this is where he was building some cabinets and stuff..." - "oh, where was the kitchen ?" - "oh, the kitchen was outside the main house, in the servants quarters..." Incredible. The massive stairway going to the first floor was the same as back then. Dad told me how much he played on it with his older brother Jacques... To the dismay of their mother... My granny... I could picture her in there. And it goes on : "That was the parent's bedroom and their dressing room... Here was my bedroom and there was Jacques'... Oh and here, against the wall, was dad's rifle collection... These were the rifles we used to take, Jacques and I, to shoot the birds in the big tree outside..."... And the story goes on and on and on... The workers there, soon all aware of what is going on, look at us, all smiles. They looked amused, and even touched by the beauty of it all. Dad is back 62 years in time and his daughter is with him on this time warp... Wow. I don't know who's the most emotional about his : him or me. But hey, this was something awesome...
Right after this we went to the genocide museum... Which we thought was dad's former school. But actually it wasn't ! Pffffeeww ! We visited the place nonetheless... Wow. It was basically a former high school transformed during the Pol Pot period into a prison and an interrogation (read torture) facility. Just a couple of numbers : 14000 people went through this prison. 8 made it out alive. No it's not a typo. Eight people survived. There are photographs everywhere in these rooms. Photographs of highly dangerous rebels, whose age range from 8 years old to 50... Looking at the photograph of an 8-year old girl, whose look is so scared, knowing she was tortured, held in those horrible cells, until she "confessed" then she was taken to the "killing field" 7 Km from there to be executed... Seeing this and realizing this is a... How can I say... Emotional experience, to say the least. You realize, again and again that there is no limit to men's stupidity and cruelty towards one another... The beautiful part of that visit was to meet one of the survivors... He's 85 and he's the director of an association dedicated to the memory of the genocide. Wow. Weird feeling... Goosebumps...
Last but not least : we found dad's real college ! A huge and beautiful school... I had no battery left so no pictures. That can't be ! I'll go back to make some :-)... Again, amazing feeling to walk this school hand in hand with my dad, knowing he had ran around like a naughty boy he was... 62 years ago.
After all those emotions, we got back to the hotel, at around 5 pm and... Slept until 8 !! Then the manager of our hotel suggested a very nice place to have dinner : the Titanic restaurant, right by the Tonle Sap river... When I saw eel was om the menu, I couldn't resist and was right not to : it was awesome... After this great meal, we walked the streets, stopped for fresh fruit, watched people in awe in front of their TV watching a thai boxing match... And headed back to the hotel... Where a TERRIBLE (and I weigh the word) band was trying to play some international covers... Well, as i told dad : I could sing better than the singer, play the guitar better than the guitar player and even play percussions better than the percussionist... We rushed to our bedroom and quickly fell asleep... What a day !
PS : no need to say what was the highlight of the day ? :-)
PS : please comment.... This is part of my motivation to write !!!