Monday, December 21, 2009

Hello! Hello! Hello!

12 - 15 December 2009
Crossing the border to Cambodia along the Mekong river must be the most scenic way to see the countries, drifting along the river, past the villages that live and depend on the river. Slowly you see the people changing from Vietnamese to Cambodian, it's not a big difference in the beginning, but the difference is definitly there. Cambodia is known as the smiling country, which it definitly is. Smiling and waving people everywhere! Naked little boys (the girls were all fully dressed) jumping and summersaulting into the river, jumping up and shouting "Hello! Hello! Hello!" and waving and smiling at us. Women doing the laundry, children running next to the boat, men in boats fishing or plucking the lotusroots, all of them smile and wave at us. It's really welcoming, and it puts a smile on my face, but it's also sad, knowing what these people have been through, quite recently.

I'm reading a book now: Surviving the Killingfields. It's written by the actor who won an academy award for his role in the same-named movie: The Killingfields. It's his autobiography, really well wtritten and a very precise and clear story about what happened fot those 4 years of genocide, during 1975 and 1979. 1979, the year I was born, so everybody here who is older than me has been a war-slave, a victim of the Khmer Rouge, crazy to think about. But the people here have made the best of things, are trying to get past that part of history, and look ahead, it's good to see!

My hostel in Phnomh Penh is called "Me Mates Place" and is run by a Glaswegian guy. The Cambodians that work there are great, speak English well, are funny, and go by names like: Tony Montana, Monty Python and Rambo (who I know just got his bachelor in English literature, and is also a Tuk-Tuk driver).

Phnomh Penh was great to walk around in, and when it was too warm, there was always a tuk-tuk waiting around the corner, very convenient. Everywhere were signs for "Happy Pizza", which is a space-pizza, if you know what I mean. I didn't try it, but I saw many face around me indicating they had.

The highlights of PP were definitly S21, the school that was turned into a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime. They left the rooms and buildings as they found them, even the remaining beds of the last 14 people to be tortured and and left to die in the building, just before the soldiers escaped and the Khemer Rouge was taken down. The killingfields were equally impressive. What striked me most was all the butterflies, flowers and birds happily fluttering around all the mass-burial graves, as if nothing had ever happened.

But of course PP also has less dramatic stuff to offer: The Royal Palace, National museum, nice lunch places, the Mekong river. I was there for 3 days, which was enough, but i loved it!

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