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Cambodia’s Future Begins Today

sunny 34 °C

Confession time – Angkor Wat was actually bursting with tourists when we visited…
But we have perfected ways of keeping them out of the picture as we explained in our blog post from Turkey, dated 12.10.2011, titled Confessions of a Devious Photographer.

Because Angkor Wat is such a draw it also attracts an army of locals hoping to profit from the visitors and there is no shortage of souvenirs and services on offer. The touts are accompanied by hordes of young children, especially doe-eyed little girls, who have learned their sales pitch in many languages and memorized the capitals and heads of state of numerous countries. Mention Canada and some adorable 5 year old kid will immediately tell you that Ottawa is the capital and Harper is the P.M. (This is impressive - eighty percent of Canadian 5 year olds, and a fair chunk of adult Canucks, wouldn’t know that). And if you still refuse to buy their postcards or trinkets the children will promise to go to school the very next day if you give them a dollar. We didn’t buy their trinkets, or their story, but they are poor people in a poor country. Many of them live in squalor on stilt houses like this…
These riverside homes under the coconut and banana palms may look exotic, but the murky water is a sewer and mosquito breeding ground. Dengue fever and malaria are rampant in this seeming paradise...
The ruined city of Angkor was one of the world’s largest urban conurbations in the 12th /13th centuries, but internecine wars and invasions led to its eventual downfall and abandonment. Tribal, religious and geo-political wars have blighted the world for centuries, and we have seen the battle scars in places like Kosovo and Vietnam, but nowhere have the wounds been so close to the surface as in Cambodia. Siem Reap may be a bustling city of neon lights and cut-price bars but it has a dark side: amongst the throngs of western backpackers and well-healed tourists, dozens, (probably hundreds), of paraplegic Cambodians scrape a living by playing music, selling books and trinkets, or outright begging. We refuse to exploit the plight of suffering people by photographing them, so here’s a happy picture of a flock of egrets amidst the lotus blossoms at Tonle Sap lake…
Tonle Sap lake is home to countless fishermen and their families who live in ramshackle floating villages along its banks. It looks quaint from a distance…
But it’s not pretty up close…
In the early 1970s Nixon and Kissinger ordered the bombing of Cambodia in a desperate, and secret, bid to stop the Vietcong from resupplying their troops in Vietnam. The Americans dropped over a hundred thousand tons of bombs and mines on the unsuspecting Cambodians, killing eighty thousand and wounding countless others. And then came the real tragedy: the communist Khmer Rouge, under the paranoid dictator Pol Pot, murdered between two and three million intellectuals, took Cambodia back to the stone-age, and left the country littered with millions of landmines. The legacy of this reign of terror can be seen today in the limbless and blind trying to eke out an existence on the streets of Siem Reap. But the terror has also left thousands of orphans, many sexually abused and suffering from HIV/Aids, and we visited an orphanage in Siem Reap where we were very impressed by the care and education given to the children. Here they are performing a scene from the Ramayana…
We always donate to really worthy causes that we come across on our travels and this orphanage in Siem Reap is one of the most worthy we have ever encountered. It is entirely free of religious or government affiliation and every dollar donated goes directly to helping the children. Please take a look at their website www.acodo.org and see how you can help these orphans this Christmas. With your help the children of Cambodia can look forward to a brighter future.

Posted by Hawkson 06:21 Archived in Cambodia

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I have a story about the invasion of Cambodia and a rally I attended at the US border which I will tell you when you return..too long for here but very interesting..

by Jean

This is a very heartfelt post which takes the travelog to a deeper level. Thank you.

by Janet

I agree with Janet. You add dimension to your travels that gives real insight into what you share with us. Thank you.

by Sharron

The orphanage provides hope in such sad circumstances. Thank you

by David Henderson

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