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LesandWhit’s Travel Diary

Monday, 23 Mar 2009

Location: Cambodia

MapGreetings from Cambodia!!!

A couple of days ago we crossed the border from Vietnam into Cambodia (and this time it was a flawless boarder crossing experience!) and are currently in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. It is extremely HOT here, like so hot that you have to take several breaks throughout the day to escape the scorching heat. This morning we went to the Royal Palace, which is an amazing compound filled with temples and pagoda's where the emperor of Cambodia once lived. Everything was so well kept, and the grounds were absolutely beautiful. It's crazy to see the actual structures where kings once lived and ruled an entire country.

This afternoon was a hard one - we visited what is called S21 and the Killing Fields. S21 was once a school, and then in 1975 was turned into a prison when the trecherous Khemer Rouge took control of the country. It was where they kept, held, and brutally tortured prisoners from 1975-1979 under their regime. The killing fields are the actual fields where they took these prisoners to kill them, and we saw the actual burial sites, and even worse, bones still mixed in with dirt. It was horrible. This was one of the largest mass genocides to ever exist, and we were seeing everything first hand. I can't even explain to you the emotions that overcame us. And not to mention, our tour guide actually lived through this time period and gave us first hand descriptions of all that happened during this time. I encourage you to do some research on this - it's something we didn't really learn about in the states and really should have. Les and I both agreed it's something that should be encorporated into our educated systems along with all the other wars we learn all about.

All the bloodshed and hardships only ended a little over 30 years ago, so the country is only just recovering...which is very evident. It is one of the poorest countries in the entire world, 50% of the population is under the age of 18, the literacy rate is only 35%, and there is a massive sex and drug trade prevelant here. However, most of the people are more than nice, with big smiles on their faces and love interacting with us! And there has already been a lot of progress made in advancing the country and making life better for the people. So much of Cambodia is amazing and beautiful, and I am know the upward climb will only continue! :)

We had a great dinner tonight at a place called Friends the Restaurant, which takes children in need off the streets, trains them in the restaurant business and gets them on their feet on the way to a better life. All of the funds go into their foundation and not only was this a great cause, but the food was AMAZING!!!!! All tapas and wonderful drinks. We loved it so much that we went back the 2nd night too ;) For a good cause, right :)

Les and I are both doing very well, happy and healthy! We miss you all tons, and love getting all your posts and emails...keep em a coming!