Cambodia, Day 2. 11/27/19

If the first day of being in Cambodia was distressing, today is even more so. Our first stop is at a fishing village. Our guide tells us that most of the people in the countryside who are doing farming and the fishermen are uneducated. That must be nearly 80% of the people of Cambodia. The fishermen and their families look like they live in squalid, unsanitary conditions with the men going out at night to fish and returning in the morning and the women taking care of many children.

The fishing boats of Cambodia are all painted turquoise. The fishing boats of Vietnam and Thailand are all painted other colors so that the marine police can identify them.
These boats cost between $25,000 and $50,000 depending on size
Readying squid for the market
A pretty little Cambodian girl in the fishing village probably has a hopeless future.
Chicken are walking around here and there
The making of ice is big business. Ice is used for the catch that is sold to restaurants and markets. The fishermen dry fish in the sun for their own use due to lack of refrigeration.
Grandmother cleaning fish

Our guide tells us that Cambodian people see the flies that are around the fish and produce in the markets are a good thing. He says if the food is not attracting flies then there must be something wrong with it. Considering that flies carry diseases, it is an odd concept. It also makes me wonder about the food we cooked yesterday!

Next we go to Independence Beach. This beach and its hotel were made famous when Jacqueline Kennedy came here in 1967 hoping to improve relations between Cambodia and the U.S. The sea looks inviting and there are benches to sit on. The garbage is a little less pronounced as this is the first place we have seen trash containers. We watch some young people enjoying the day. They go swimming in their street clothes. There are lots of tall buildings nearby. Most are unfinished. Our guide tells us that there have been problems with the Chinese construction. Inferior quality building materials have caused some of the buildings to collapse killing Cambodian people.

John was here
Abandoned tennis court. 
The beach and sea are lovely
The buildings seen through the trees are largely unfinished

Our last stop is at a Buddhist complex. Traditionally becoming a monk was a way for poor boys to receive an education.
We see a demonstration of Cambodian dance, some large statues of Buddha, and a temple.

The young people dress up in the traditional Cambodian clothing and show us what some of the dancing hand gestures mean.
Here they are dancing “the coconut dance.”
A former monk on the left tells us about life as a monk
Buddha pointing towards heaven with one finger up indicating he has no more incarnations to go.
Buddha getting his hair cut off to become a monk
Buddha has died and is in a reclining position
Inside the main temple is a seated Buddha

On the way back to the boat our guide, Senh, really unloads about what has happened to Cambodia and the Cambodian people. He talks about Pol Pot and the rise of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s. Pol Pot had a view of Cambodia as an agrarian socialist society. So he forcibly removed the urban population to the countryside to work or collective farms. Anyone who was considered an enemy of the Pol Pot government was killed. This included intellectuals, minorities, teachers, doctors, and certainly anyone who spoke English as they could be secret CIA operatives. These mass killings plus malnutrition and poor medical care killed between 1.5 to 2 million people, a quarter of the Cambodian people. With the approach of the 21st century Cambodia was devoid of a generation of people who could have helped the country to advance. They are still largely uneducated. Senh said that if you have no education then you do not even know what to dream about.

So we are feeling pretty sad about the conditions that these sweet, smiling people have to live in as we return to our fancy boat and have our dinner where we can send back any food that does not meet our standard and go to bed in a king size bed with clean sheets after we have seen the Cambodian people swinging in their hammocks. I think I will not post pictures of what we ate for dinner today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *