Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Adieu, Cambodia

Pol PotImage via Wikipedia
My travels in Cambodia have left my mind filled with images of magnificence, horror, resiliency, and the tragic legacy of long ago rampant insanity.

One of the first things that struck me was the gentle and cajoling nature among the people I saw. The people I met had a great sense of play between one another, and if you get to know them a bit, they will include you. I had a great many laughs with people here as they teased me and I teased them back, all in good fun of course.

While Cambodia has returned to normalcy of a sort, the poverty here is unconcionable. The legacy of landmines from the Khmer Rouge days is still in evidence, as many young people who were not even alive during the Pol Pot years. Missing limbs are everywhere, the victims ranging from the very young to the elderly.

As I was dining one night, I saw one man begging on the patio. It was hard for him to put his hand out to beg as he had to drag his legless torso around with his arms. Without question, it is one of the most gut wrenching sights I have ever scene. Doubtless, he lives on the street. For him, there is no welfare cheque.

After I had given him some money, a fellow diner came over and shook my hand. This made me cringe, as I was literally doing the least I could do.

Another scene I witnessed was two parents sorting through garbage on the street, while their two very young children slept on the sidewalk, curled up beside a building. I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

Yet in the face of all this, hope persists, a shred of a thread that maybe things can get better. After all, these folks have taken the very worst that humankind has to offer, and they continue to press on. They will be forever in my heart, and never far from my mind.