First I would like to give you guys a brief history as I know it (with lots of help from Hubby, my personal tour guide for this trip).
- Cambodian language is Khmer, people of Cambodia are called Khmer People.
- 1953 Cambodia gains freedom from France (I just had to include this little tidbit because I had NO IDEA Cambodia ever belonged to France. I really should have paid more attention in history class.)
- 1975 Pol Pot (evil man) took over Cambodia and started wreaking havoc on the citizens of Cambodia. (NOTICE I SAID 1975?!?)
- Once in power Pol Pot renamed the country Kampuchea.
- Money becomes worthless.
- Basic freedoms are taken away, religion is ban and the Khmer Rouge (communist party) coined the phrase "Year Zero" and made the statement that the country was about to be "purified".
- Foreigners were killed or expelled from the country.
- Foreign languages, newspapers, television, religion, radios, bicycles, and telephones were all ban.
- Parental authority was revoked and children were taken away.
- All businesses were shut down, education and health care were a thing of the past.
- People that lived in the city were forcibly moved to the countryside to become agricultural workers. (Pol Pot had a 5 year plan which failed miserably.)
- Hundreds of thousands of people were tortured and executed. Others starved or died for various reasons.
- Cambodians had to work in the fields for 18 hours a day with only 2 breaks and very little food. If they were caught eating the crops they were shot to death or worse.
- In 1979 Pol Pot's reign of terror in Cambodia came to an end. (Although it would not be until 1998 before he was arrested and had a heart attack and died, therefore never being brought to trial.)
- It is estimated that 2-4 MILLON people were executed during this time of hell on earth. That was over 25% of the population of Cambodia.
- Cambodia is still recovering as this ended only 33 years ago.
Now I'll start from the moment I stepped off the airplane.
Siem Reap is one of those little airports where you exit the airport onto the tarmac. The first thing I noticed was the steamy heat. It was 10PM at night and the temperature felt like it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The very next thing I noticed at almost the same time as the heat was the smell in the air. Oh my goodness, the sweet, sweet smell of Cambodia. The smell of fresh air mixed with honeysuckle (even though I never saw one honeysuckle) and forest. I wish I could turn that smell into those little wax thing I burn in my scentsy warmers. There wasn't an ounce of pollution in the air, or so it seemed.
We had a driver pick us up from the airport to take us to our cozy little B&B which was about a 40 minute drive. He was very nice and talkative telling us about all the sights we could not see along the way. In Cambodia there are no street lights and in rural Cambodia, not much electricity. As were we driving we happened upon something going on,some sort of traffic jam, but it was only motorbikes - we were the only car. More motorbikes were on the way whizzing past us. Our driver said it looked like an accident. He turned around to go another way - we ended up on a dirt road beside the road where the accident was - when I looked over and saw a young man I would guess to be in his early twenties laying on the ground not moving. There was a police man standing over him saying something and many people gathered around him. No one was doing anything - they were just looking at him. It was eerie. I looked beyond him and saw his motorbike laid out on the ground - it looked to me like he had a blowout. The young man's face is engrained in my mind. I think of him often. I'm afraid he didn't make it, but I often find myself hoping that he was just knocked unconscious.
Upon arriving at our B&B I already had so many mixed emotions. I was happy to see how nice and cozy our room was and that the air conditioner worked well. But after seeing just the tiny bit of Cambodia that I saw on the ride from the airport I was feeling a little guilty for such nice accommodations at this sweet little B&B, but then again I was happy to see so many things I have become accustom to (like running water and electricity).