As we have travelled around Cambodia one thing has struck us and that is how happy every Cambodian is. From the man walking his water buffalo, to the lady selling petrol on the side of the roads out of coke or Bacardi bottles everyone is happy, smiley and friendly. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia where most people scrape by on a few dollars a day with their worldly possessions comprising of a hammock, a shack with a little kitchen and some livestock.
Only 34 years ago Cambodia was ruled by Pol Pot who was probably the most deranged, psychotic dictator ever to have ruled a country. His beliefs were that peasant farmers were the future and that anyone living in the cities were the enemy. Within 24 hours of ruling the country he ordered every person living in the cities to go to forced labour camps on the farms, all money and possession’s were burnt and everything was ruled by fear.
His regime lead to millions starving to death as the rice was sold for guns and ammunition. Anyone who didn’t fit the peasant farmer profile were sent, along with their whole family to one of the numerous Killing Fields.
As we walked around one of these fields we got a sense of what Cambodians have been through…. Due to ammunition being expensive nearly 2 million men, women and children were beaten, hacked or tortured… And then thrown into a mass grave with 500 other victims, sometimes still alive. These graves were so shallow that even today, teeth, major bones and cloth are still visible on the ground.
Even after all this suffering in recent times Cambodians can still smile. It goes to show money or possessions are not needed to make you happy…..it certainly has been a thought provoking couple of days for us both….
Next stop…. Angkor Wat.