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

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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Dec 28, 2013 - Deciphering culture’s layers

Miraculously, I had saved a tiny notebook from 2006, in which was scratched the phone number of Nareth, my Khmer tutor the first time I was in Cambodia. We had become good friends, as she had just graduated, was looking for a job, and tutored me for a number of weeks. I sent a text to this 7-year old number, and within two hours I had a reply—from Nareth! We met for lunch! She’s been hoping to accept a scholarship offer to do her Master’s in New Zealand in International Development, but she was .5 point below the standard on her English...

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Dec 27, 2013 - Determined Cambodian Youth

Today I was again inspired by the determined spirit and optimism of Cambodian college students. The three I met all come from the Provinces, have scholarships to attend ITC, feel exceptionally fortunate with this opportunity to study, and are determined to work hard, succeed, help support their families, and help their country develop. My first solo interview. Somehow the word has spread, and these students had reserved the Student Association conference room for interviews with “the professor from the USA.” We were even brought bottles of...

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Dec 26, 2013 - Searching the Truth

I spent the morning at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) with Khamboly Dy, who is the Director of the Genocide Education Project, and the author of “History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979),” a history of the Pol Pot years, developed for high school students. Prior to this publication in 2007, this period took two sentences only in the official social science textbooks. Students were not learning about this part of their country’s history. Now there are several pages in the approved national texts, taken from this book, and...

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Dec 25, 2013 - A Different Christmas

Funny about memories of special days. I woke up on Christmas Day remembering our special family traditional breakfasts of waffles or pancakes. Yumm! Tummy still not so happy, but I couldn’t resist going to FCC (Foreign Correspondence Club) for a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. Neither of these was the real thing, but they helped satisfy my imagination. Attitude can go a long way! It helped start my day that I received email greetings from one of my former students, from Ralph and Joyce, and a very kind Merry Christmas phone...

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