Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Phnom Penh, CB11, Cambodia

Jan 11, 2014 - Cambodia’s Lost Rock & Roll

Relaxing morning today! Listened to some of my audio recordings of interviews. This afternoon had two more interviews with students from the University of Health Sciences—one studying dentistry and one medicine. This year only three out of 400 applicants were admitted into studying a specialization in medicine—pretty tough odds. Last week at DC-Cam Dalin invited me to attend tonight the world premiere of a documentary film 10 years in the making—about the music scene in Cambodia in the 60’s, “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock...

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Jan 10, 2014 - Interviewed 11 students!

Busy day! When the hierarchy works for you, it really works! PUC came through, and today I interviewed 10 students there, and 1 more at RULE (Royal University of Law and Economics). Whew! All interesting, diverse perspectives. I also met with the President of the PUC student association, PASS, who (after checking me out and making sure I’m ligit, and that I have permission from higher-ups so he doesn’t get into trouble) now has set up 8 more students for interviews Monday. My last week will be busy!

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Jan 9, 2014 - Tuol Sleng

Waiting for appointments day, so I decided to go back to visit Tuol Sleng Prison, a former high school which was turned into a prison and torture chamber and administered by Duch, one of the top leaders of the Khmer Rouge. I had been there the first time I was in Cambodia, and knew it would be hard. There is so much suffering and pain still in those walls and grounds. Since then, I have read a lot about Duch, who was in 2012 sentenced to life imprisonment by the Tribunals, so I wanted to see what else I might observe or notice this time....

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Jan 8, 2014 - Relationships are everything!

I arrived at Paññasatra University (PCU) at the appointed time to what I thought was to be a meeting with Kim and his team to plan a schedule for interviews with PUC students. Instead, Kim ushered me into a room in the library where he had assembled 6 students for a group interview. Fortunately, I had anticipated there might be surprises, and had brought along my digital recorder and notebook. This was a really interesting, thoughtful group of young Cambodian men and women who will graduate in April this year. After lunch I met with Dalin...

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Jan 7, 2014 - Holiday: “Victory Over Genocide”

Today is a national holiday, the day that Vietnamese troops ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979. The current government (CPP) has a celebration of its party members, taking full credit for the overthrow. Only government officials are invited. I decided to do my own acknowledgement by going to a Wat and offering flowers and incense to the Buddha, with prayers for the 1.5 to 3 million people who died under the Pol Pot regime. Then I had a quiet afternoon at the National Museum, seeing the 4th and 12th Century Buddha sculptures in stone and the...

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Jan 6, 2014 - Respect, Outrageousness, and a little luck

Respect can go a long way. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be Southern, and a little outrageous. Realizing I only have a week and a half left here, I began the morning with a dash of desperation and a big dose of determination. I headed off to get contacts for Takeo Province and Paññasatra University (PCU), the places that promised, but have yet to connect me with students I can interview. Dalin, the office assistant/receptionist at DC-CAM, was pleased when I asked about his New Year holiday in Siem Reap. I remembered from our brief encounter last...

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Jan 5, 2014 - Get-Away to Kampong Som & Koh Rong Samloem

Just returned to the city from the weekend in Kampong Som (now called Sihanoukville). I feel like I’ve been away for 4 or 5 days, it was sooooo relaxing. Nareth was a great travel companion, and made the logistics much easier. We spent four hours each way in a mini-van, crossing fields with rice, dry land, small villages, and cattle. The roads were pretty straight (especially after Dharamsala!) and mostly in good condition. We checked into the simple but clean GBT hotel for $15/night, had a delicious lunch of a fresh steamed fish (the whole...

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Jan 2, 2014 - Dining with the monks

I received a text late last night from Venerable Sam Art, inviting me to join him for lunch for inaugurating the New Year. I wasn’t sure what this would be, but couldn’t turn down the opportunity to find out. I met him at the Buddhist University, and it turned out that the event was for all the staff. He introduced me to the Vice-Rector of the University, who is on his way tomorrow to Delhi, where he is completing his Ph.D. in Buddhist studies. The line of tuk-tuks whisked the saffron robed monks and me off to the Tonle Brassac restaurant,...

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Jan 1, 2014 - Spectacular View!

Nareth invited me to go with her to the highest bar and restaurant in Phnom Penh, to see the view of the city. She picked me up on her moto, and off we went to the Prudential tower in the center of the city. We arrived at 5:30pm, just as they opened. The city was spread out all around us, with amazing 360 degree views. We saw the Tonle Sap River and the Royal Palace, near my hotel. The sun set and the lights appeared like so many glittering stars below. We were awed by the view of lighted monuments all in a row—Independence Monument,...

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Dec 31, 2013 - New Year's Eve

The morning was spent listening and transcribing one of the interviews, a time-consuming process, but my digital recorder is working very well, and I was able to download the audio files onto my computer to work with them. Venerable Sam Art had arranged interviews for me in the afternoon with two monks studying at the Buddhist University. They both spoke English quite well, and it was interesting to get some insight into their lives as monks and their views for the future of Cambodia. They both became monks because it was the way to get a...

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Dec 30, 2013 - Buddhism in Cambodia

I had an early morning meeting with Venerable Sam Art at Preah Sihanouk raja Buddhist University, located within the Ministry of Cults and Religion on Preah Sisowath Quay. I had met him at the Awards Ceremonies for CEEF. He is a joyful and enthusiastic man dedicated to Cambodian youth. He served me tea, and we sat in the library, for which he has been busy collecting books. Everything was destroyed in the Pol Pot years, and it is taking a long time to rebuild Buddhist structures here, though it permeates the culture in many ways. He has a...

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Dec 29, 2013 - Khmer lesson

My morning started very early in an attempt to avoid the traffic sure to be associated with the large demonstration planned for today along my route to the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Good planning, as “Freedom” (his adopted name) wove his Tuk-Tuk through the streets without difficulty. Another free chiropractic adjustment reminded me how much I value my driver Thy, who has just left for his wife’s brother’s wedding in the countryside, and won’t be back for a week! The young woman I met to interview suggested we talk at a nearby coffee...

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