"One Dolla" CAMBODIA
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Cambodia lays bare its conflicting past for all to see. The splendorous ancient ruins of the Angkor Kingdom stand in stark contrast to the grisly corridors of the Khmer Rouge's torture camps. And there I wonder if it's possible for a country to reconcile its opposed past while holding sight of its future.
As I walked through the streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it hit me all at once that the Khmers of today are more than ready to embrace the free world. The country is developing, slowly but surely. The roads connecting the major towns are well-paved, internet cafes and wifi hotspots are sprucing up, and the average locals swagger around town, each with a mobile phone in hand.
Yet, no visitor to Cambodia can ignore the poverty that are evident on the streets ~ homeless children, landmine victims and starving mothers begging with babies in their arms can be seen at every corner. What makes it even harder to accept is that Cambodians deal with their struggles with incredible high spirits and fortitude. Any which way I turn, I was greeted with enchanting smiles and sing-song greetings from street vendors, tuk tuk drivers and vagrants alike.
Every tourist represents a glimmer of hope, and while they are fiercely proud of their heritage, the Cambodians waste no time raking in precious tourist dollars. Tourism brings in much-needed income for their infrastructure which, in turn, stamps the mark of freedom for its people ~ a freedom to live the life they deserve whilst burying the horrific struggles of the past. Who knows, perhaps someday the gentle Cambodians might just regain the glory days of the Angkor Kings.