Reilly on the Road travel blog

Borith and his chariot!

Borith and I...(note the mysterious spot on my forehead. It's not a...

After an overnight in a hotel near the Suvarnaphumi Airport in Bangkok, I caught an early flight to Phnom Pehn where I was met by a Khmer Tuk-Tuk driver named Borith. Don Kushner, a friend from Jackson, had visited Cambodia a few months earlier and put me in touch with Borith.

For the next two days, Borith took me all over Phnom Pehn in his little moto-taxi. We saw the Royal Palace and many of the beautiful temples in the city, but more powerful was visitnig the sites associated witht he brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the late 70's.

We saw the prison / torture facility of Tuol Sleng where many of Cambodia's educated members of society were tortured before being shipped off to the Killing Fields to be bludgeoned and buried in mass graves. This horror knew no limits, and men, women and children were all subjected to this madness

It was unbelievably powerful to be in these places and contemplate the pure evil that motivated such senseless brutality, but more powerful still was to hear Borith share his experiences. As a young boy, he was imprisoned in a hard labor camp for stealing a watermelon. Of the 20 prisoners in the camp, he was the only one who survived. Likewise, he is the only surviving member of his family as his parents and brothers and sisters were all killed by the Khmer Rouge.

I had planned to spend only one day in Phnom Pehn before heading norther to Siem Reap and the temples of Angkow Wat, but at the bus station the next morning, I found out that Borith had hoped to invite me to dinner with his family that night. Not wanting to miss such a special experience, I promptly changed my ticket for the next day.

That evening, Borith collected me in his Tuk Tuk and took me to his home near the airport. he had owned a small apratment in Phnom Pehn city, but was forced to sell the house to pay for his son's medical care when he fell ill a few years prior.

Sitting on the floor around a sizzling pot of Khmer soup, Bortith, his daughter Sorany (14), his son Aya (7) and his lovely wife Sarun shared a wonderful Khmer meal. As Borith drove me back to the city, I was just blown away by the strength and spirit of this man and his family. This without a doubt was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my trip.

Sorry I don't have any pictures. I had a mix up with the downloading, and they will get posted when I return to the states.

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