Sunday, May 23, 2010

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Internet access has been difficult in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Teman Negara in Malaysia. This is why I have not blogged recently.

We reached Siem Reap, Cambodia via KL international after an all night wait for our flight. We are staying at The Villa, owned by an Australian couple who came here several years ago and fell in love with the place. It's easy to understand why. Cambodian people are warm and friendly, kind and generous. Things are inexpensive here and it is plenty exotic.

We visited a children's hospital created by a Swiss doctor who has been working here since the 1970s. We also visited the land mine museum outside town. Americans have forgotten, or are too young to remember, that we bombed Cambodia in an attempt to stop supply lines into Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail which runs from Laos into Vietnam. Cambodia is where carpet bombing began and it is a place that was heavily mined by Khmer Rouge, Vietnamese, Americans, etc., especially in the period when Pol Pot came to power.
I was told that 6,000,000 mines are still in the ground and they are still dangerous and they still kill people.

This is a country struggling to reclaim a place in the world after being devastated by war and civil war. The needs are unbelievable especially with regard to health care. Ran into a physician from Boston this a.m. who is volunteering here for five weeks.

Many NGOs are here and they are doing great work, including Americans. However, the need is great. Remember, the Khmer Roughe systematically murdered 3,000,000 of their own people in an attempt to create a rural agrarian socialist society. Those killed were teachers, doctors, etc., who had the knowledge and skill to build a country.

It's a beautiful place with beautiful people that needs some help. Tomorrow we'll help build a compost toilette in a village where water and sanitation are largely non existant. We should be doing more.

By the way, all are well. We are avoiding Thailand altogether. I received the word that we should not visit from contacts there. We'll spend our time here in Cambodia and in Vietnam, then home.

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