Cambodia is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It’s full of breathtaking temples, delicious food, sexy women & gorgeous wildlife. It is also a country who is recovering from a catastrophic genocide & has one of the longest ruling dictators in history.
So when traveling in Cambodia, don’t be a dumbass. Murder & mayhem have been the major mind states of this country for the last 40 years. You may realize that people are a lot more friendly in Cambodia than in your home country, that’s because they are happy to be alive.
Living in Cambodia for just 3 months was nothing short of a life changing experience for me. I met so many people who have been through so much shit that now I find it impossible to complain about anything. When my friends left for the states I stayed in Siem Reap for 2 months more.
Seeing that I was lost a few Cambodians took me in & showed me their lives. I was invited to Cambodian weddings, birthday parties, welcome home parties & other events where I was the only berang. It was dope & I will always be grateful to them for showing me how resilient people really are. Even in the face of genocide, corruption, poverty & overall hopelessness the Cambodian people are still warriors. They don’t give a fuck about tomorrow but they sure as hell know how to make the most out of today.
Brief Historical Overview
30 years ago over 3 million men, women, children & babies were brutally hacked to death in killing fields across the country. The rest were forced to work 16 hours a day in labour camps living off of only 1 cup of rice daily. Many died of exhaustion or were shot when they could no longer work.
When the Vietnamese liberated the Cambodians from the Khmer Rouge they were still screwed. The massive amount of dead bodies around the country had contaminated most of Cambodia’s water supply & their agriculture system was in shambles. This led to hundreds of thousands of people dying from disease & starvation.
After the Vietnamese arrived the Khmer Rouge moved from Phnom Phen into the jungle on the Thai border. They continued guerrilla warfare against the government until 1998. During this time the United States briefly funded the Khmer Rouge since they were fighting against the Vietnamese backed government of Cambodia. This led to landmines being in-descriminently scattered throughout the jungle, with thousands of innocent people losing limbs.
When Pol Pot died of old age in 1998 his body was burned in a heap of tires & trash like the piece of shit he was. He will always be notorious for raping his own country & turning one of the most beautiful countries in Asia into a living hell. But the plight of the Cambodian’s was just beginning. Now they had a new brutal dictator to deal with, Hun Sen.
Hun Sen is a former battalion commander for the Khmer Rouge in the Eastern Region of Democratic Kampuchea. At the height of the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, interior purging was routine. Facing torture & death, Hun Sen fled to Vietnam in 1977. There he quickly rose through the ranks & became leader of the rebel army sponsored by Vietnam.
When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia Hun Sen was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Vietnamese-installed People’s Republic of Kampuchea/State of Cambodia. Ever since he has been in power, making him one of the longest serving dictators in the world. He is infamous for violently stomping out political rivals, killing civilians, stealing private property & selling over 45% of Cambodia’s land to foreign investors. He is seen as a puppet for the Vietnamese government & has vowed to keep robbing Cambodia until he is 75.
This is why Cambodia is in the state that it is in. There is blatant corruption & constant state of chaos. But I fucking love it, it’s one of the most epic places in the world. Both to party & learning how to overcome real hardship.
The Cambodian people still only live for today, because tomorrow isn’t promised. The world turned their back on them, & until Hun Sen is removed from power the nightmare continues. There was no justice for those killed in the genocide. To date only one Khmer Rouge member has been sentenced & the country is still ruled by an ex-Khmer Rouge commander.
Despite all the bullshit, the Cambodian people are surviving however they can. But it isn’t hopeless, Cambodia is exploding with development. There are over 20 million tourists a year visiting Ankor Wat, the same temples that the Khmer Rouge soldiers shot RPG’s out of just 17 years ago. The Cambodian people have a voracious appetite for learning English & are jumping at the chance to get involved with tourism. With an aging dictator & a booming new population, these next few years will be interesting!