We took a 12 hour bus ride from Saigon through the border and over to Cambodia.  It is probably exactly what you envision.. as in a dirty, dusty, littered, non-modern country; and still it is so amazing.  The streets are lined with food vendors, roaming cattle and beggars.  The beggars are mainly old women, children, or disfigured people from the wars, or its mine-filled aftermath.  The children sell Cambodian history books, or simply beg for money.  Giving them money perpetuates the problem, but not giving simply breaks your heart. We saw on several occasions young children crying on the streets.  The main streets are built in concrete. However, all side streets are still dirt, making the entire city dust-filled.  The cost of living is comparable to Vietnam (about twice as much as Thailand), which was shocking.  The tuk-tuk drivers frequently offered marijuana to Vince (when I wasn’t around).  Vince asked one of them if it was legal, given how open the business seemed. They said they pay off the police and so the police don’t bother them. Talk about corruption.  The people are significantly more passive than in Vietnam, which was a welcomed relief.  When we said, “no thank you,” they said, “no problem.” The overall vibe of the country seems to be genuine happiness or genuinely exhausted from unending poverty. Many are scarred from the Pol Pot Regime.  There are significantly more younger people than elders, again due to the Pol Pot Regime.  Everyone just wants to get past that period of history.  Some resent the Vietnamese and Thais for taking their land.  In fact, one person we met, who was a restaurant soldier/ Cambodian soldier, said the Cambodians plan to strike on Bangkok in a next few years.  He seemed very serious about, though we considered it absolutely absurd. Overall though, the smile in their eyes and their easygoing culture makes them some of our most beloved people.



~ by The Piersas on November 4, 2008.

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