Our ten days In Cambodia brought back our faith in humanity … We have such scant regard for human life in India and everyday news makes one quite cynical that it was refreshing to get a lesson in forgiveness and see good people.
Cambodia had one of the worst chapters of genocide in the world written during the Pol Pot era from 1975 to 1979. Imagine entire families being wiped out, one in four Cambodians was killed and there is hardly any family that didn’t have a member die during this period. What’s worse, the rest of the world remained unaware and even worse, the Pol Pot led Khmer Rouge was recognised by the United Nations and not the democratically led government :(. The man who tortured and murdered innocent people (nearly 2 million) lived a long life and managed to enjoy his grandchildren, while many babies were killed by his soldiers.
What’s great about the Cambodian people is they chose to forgive and choose a non-violent punishment for these people – the famous Mr. Duch who was the presiding officer over Tuol Sleng or the famous S-21 prison is finally serving a 35 years sentence in the jail, but wasn’t dealt with capital punishment. The new government decided not to have capital punishment as an option. Only life imprisonment for heinous crimes – how tolerant.
We need to learn to break the cycle of violence and become a more compassionate country like Cambodia. They are dreadfully poor and uneducated and there’s massive work that needs to happen. But it’s great to see how good the people are. There are three people I want to mention specifically – who made our experience special.
Sam Nang, the supervisor at the restaurant in the hotel Angkor Miracle Spa and Resorts where we were staying. He saw on day one that we didn’t get much to eat in breakfast inspite of the huge spread as the vegetarian options were limited. He immediately figured out and started making sure we had enough fruits. Absolutely great personalised service of a kind that cannot be taught in any school – our breakfasts were special because of Sam.
The swimming pool in-charge is the next. We didn’t manage to get his name but saw him start work at 6 am in the morning and stay till the pool closed at 8 pm. What dedication to work and while we specially thanked and tipped him, the image of his running around taking care of the customers needs doesn’t fade. May he find some respite and may his tribe grow.
The third person is our guide, Mr. Kong Soeun. A dedicated family man, immensely knowledgeable about Cambodian history, punctual – never was late even by a minute, great ambassador for his people. He is trying to get into the National Assembly and hopefully he will make it. Please help him educate his children and provide a good life for his family by hiring him as a guide when you visit Cambodia. His website is Angkor tours guide. He was a child soldier during the terrible Pol Pot Khmer Rouge time and has had to plant land mines himself. He is a great guide to see Cambodia. Hopefully someday he will be an important minister or even the Prime Minister and as Krishnan promised him, we will go back to Cambodia to visit him then.
We certainly want to remain connected to Cambodia, and the big reason for that are the wonderful people there. May God bless Cambodia with a compassionate growth as a nation… They have paid the price with their lives already.