Cambodia is a wonderful country, that i will remember dearly and try to go back to anytime i can. unlike with some other countries that i have visited so far, i didn’t leave Cambodia feeling that i had seen enough of it. i didn’t leave ready to leave, ready to see something else. i left reluctantly…
Cambodia is a country with many problems. the government is corrupted and seems to do little in order to help it’s population. Laos, a country that is also very poor, did not feel poor to me at all but Cambodia felt very poor. the capital was dirty, smelly, littered with garbage and had many people living on it’s streets, begging for anything they could get. there was beggars in china, but this felt different. to see whole families living on the street. to see people really hungry, really dirty, and not faking it like it often was in china. to feed a child your meal because he asked, and see him eat it so fast is really difficult. in their eyes you can see the hunger, the despair, the appreciation for what i couldn’t finish on my plate. somehow it doesn’t make you feel better though, to know that you’ve helped one… there are so many others.
the Cambodian government is rumoured to have an aid budget of the size of Belgium’s annual budget. that means, it’s a big one. so why are people starving? why do they spend only 0.3% of their GDP on health care? why are there landmine signs in front of rice fields, where people work everyday? why do children have to work to pay for their English education? why is English school costing as much as $10 USD a week for classes of 4 hours a day? there are so many questions about this country, and the social irresponsibility of the government.
there is also something to be said about irresponsible (french) tourists. please! stop feeding the kids candy. do you really think that they can afford dentists? everywhere you go and you are met by a young child you get a “hello! give me bonbon.” if you say that you don’t have any, then they ask for chewing gum, miam miam, money, pens, anything. if you don’t have anything, they get angry. a little girl told me that if i didn’t buy a cold drink from her she would cry. is giving in to this really any way to help them? you’re teaching these kids a horrible lesson. there are other ways to help them, this you can be sure of.
but Cambodia is a beautiful country, with wonderful people. the best looking folks so far as well! so many times I’ve been floored by the beauty of some of them, especially women and girls with curly hair. just incredible. the children know that they look good as well. they smile at you and ask if you want to take them in picture.
i loved their rice fields, punctured by palm trees. i will remember Angkor, the colours of the bricks, the details in the walls, the grandeur of everything. i will remember the children, playing in the mud and with each other, blissfully happy. the water buffaloes, neck deep in the mud. the children on the beach of Sihanoukville, trying to sell you anything in order to pay for their education. kids playing in the water, for hours. the sunsets over this country. the relaxed atmosphere of Sihanoukville. the great food. the bad, awful roads. the smiles. the bad karaoke on bus journeys.
i will return. one day. hopefully.