May 9, 2007

Day 91 :: Cambodia Rising

Day 91 - Sihanoukville

As we end our days in Cambodia on a beautiful beach on the South Coast, we're reminded again of Cambodia's harsh past, peaceful present and hopeful future.

While we we're sending people to the moon and traveling the country in VW buses, Cambodia was experiencing genocide that only can be rivaled by the holocaust. When the Khmer Rouge took power of Cambodia from 1975-1979, close to two million Cambodians died, nearly a third of the population. Everything intellectual was destroyed including the intellects themselves, any printed material, cars, motorbikes, and even money. Before the Khmer regime, the exchange rate was $1USD to $69Riel. After, $1USD equaled $2000Riel. In wiping out 1/3 of the population and in destroying the econonmy, Cambodia lost at least half a century of development.

It seems they're still trying to catch up. While evidence of severe poverty still remain here, there are signs of rebuilding. The country has capitalized on tourism and it's bringing in floods of money. Many nations around the world, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Cambodia for it's rebuilding. Huge street signs have paintings that on one side show Cambodia's poor past and on the other, her future of growth and prosperity. But what strikes me most about present Cambodia is that for the first time in a hundred years, an entire generation has grown up without war. And hopefully in peace, this country will become what it's working towards.

Phnon Penh: The Royal Palace

Phnon Penh: Side Street

Phnon Penh: Main Street

South Coast - Bokor National Park


Post a Comment