Wednesday, 4/23/14; Siem Reap, Cambodia
Before we left for Seim Reap, we visited the Royal Palace, built by King Norodom. Later we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum on the site of a former high school used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge regime. I took a few pictures with the only two survivors of the original 5. Three are deceased. Bought their books and it was worth it since the books are clarifying.
Today was a bus travel day (6 hrs) from Phnom Penh to Siiem Reap. It was rough! The road, like many roads
here is under construction. Along the way we stopped at the stone carving village and the Insect Market. Yes, I tasted a tarantula. OK, it was only a leg. It was Delicious!!! Other tasty treats: Beetles, crickets and worms.
On the bus ride, my thoughts drifted to the Two Cambodia’s, one for the king and one for his minions.
The palatial rooms were dripping with silver, gold, diamonds and other precious stones. The country suffers from many years of civil war. There is a brain drain, lacking the intellectuals, and/or professionals who could help the people build a working nation. While there is some road and building construction, it is slow. There seems to be no infrastructure for sanitation or trash pick-up. Young people hawk their wares desperately with perseverance and non-acceptance to the response of “no thank you”.
Population Breakdown (CIA World Fact Book
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 2,460,659/female 2,423,619)
15-24 years: 20.5% (male 1,565,135/female 1,596,099)
25-54 years: 38.9% (male 2,938,366/female 3,082,496)
55-64 years: 4% (male 298,733/female 482,588)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 229,684/female 380,953) (2014 est.)
The first two categories are the people who work in the hotels and restaurants who greet us throughout the day. Most have more than one job. They have to pay for their education, health care and everything else. However, even in this dire poverty, their smiles are big and their warmth is contagious. We reciprocate with the prayerful hands and the bow. I love this greeting.
The fourth category, 55 – 64, is the lost generation, “the missing” from Pol Pot’s four-year genocide on his people.
NGO's, UNESCO and China provide assistance in restoring the ruins, creating roads, and making efforts to build additional infrastructure. And, since the country opened its doors, tourism has become one of the major sources of income.