Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Kingdom of Cambodia

Were I to be asked to sum up all the thoughts in my head at the moment, I couldn't. I'll have to wait until I get back home, sort through my pictures and work my way through the trip day by day. As a primer, some things I have learned/observed since arriving in Cambodia 48 hours ago (it feels soooooo much longer than that!).
  1. Cambodia is a beautiful country, with strong and beautiful people. These people are at a crossroads where decisions which are made today will have repercussions for generations to come. I wish them the best in the future, they've been dealt a pretty shitty hand in the last couple of decades.
  2. The kids here are very cute, and staggeringly poor. For the most part, they seem happy, laugh easily and can carry on very good banter in English. It is difficult not to fall in love with every smile you encounter.
  3. The people I have met in the service industry so far are amazing. The Khmer hospitality which comes naturally to them is bar none the best I have witnessed so far.
  4. Japan is making a difference here. Whether it be by building roads, training people or refurbishing temples, you see the impact of Japan on the area.
  5. My hotel has a Cambodian version of Ray Charles sitting behind a piano belting out Christmas music. Last night during the Christmas party, he surprised me and made me laugh out loud when he started signing Country Roads, reminded me of Scott at the Hanami party last April.
  6. No matter who or where you are, a Caucasian person should not wear one of those Asian rice picker hats... looks dumb.
  7. Lots of people speak English here, more than I've heard in Japan in the last 2 years. From rickshaw drivers to kids selling postcards, their command of the language is great.
  8. I have yet to see a firearm. in Cambodia... not on any of the police officers, guards, nothing.
  9. Oh yeah, and today is Christmas, I keep being reminded of that every once in a while, like now when I realized what I just types in number 5 above.
So far, we have spent two days climbing all over multiple temples in the region, including the huge Angkor Wat, and generally just in awe at the scale of the buildings here around Siem Reap in the North of Cambodia. Tomorrow morning, we hop on a boat for the 5 hour boat ride to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. Our afternoon will be spent exploring the museums and national treasures in the city. The next day will be a sobering one with a visit to the Killing Fields to learn about the atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Then it's off to Vietnam, with no plans made as of yet.

So that's about that, we are still safe and sound after many legs of our journey and the rest of the trip should be smooth sailing. Merry Christmas!

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