Vietnam trip is over and today we are starting on our second adventure in this Asian Trip. Say Hello to CAMBODIA!
“Choum-reap-sour” Is the formal way to say hello to a stranger or someone you have just met. Similar to Thailand you bow when you greet with your hands clasped like praying.
We arrived on the Moc Bai-Bavet Border at around 10:00-11:00am it was pretty fast as the conductor began shouting for us to quickly carry our bags and proceed to the Vietnamese Immigration. Cameras are not allowed to be used inside. Upon entering the premises there were a lot of people standing. I thought we were suppose to line up, when I heard the bus conductor from a different line, shouting for someone’s name.
“Ah, we have to wait to be called before lining up to the next.”
I’ll be giving you a heads up so you won’t be surprised when you’re in there. After the name was called, I felt a sudden shoving push behind me that literally, almost made me kiss the floor. I was taken by surprise that I almost (just almost) shouted and say “Excuse me ah!” to the old lady that pushed me. Then I learned by Sir John, that some really don’t say “Excuse me.” and that it is not big deal even if you do the same to them. It kinda appalled me to know that, but who am I to question their culture or probably they were just in a hurry. Anyhoots, I just decided to shove it off and stood by the sides so I wouldn’t get pushed again.
After your name is called in the Moc Bai Immigration, you simply get your passport and wait for your bus to pass through the gate, ride the bus and it will bring you to the Bavet Border of Cambodia. You are suppose to fill up a Arrival-Departure Card which we weren’t informed of by the bus we rode on.
For Filipinos, you are not going to pay anything in the Cambodian Immigration. So it came to as a surprise when the officer began asking for $2.00. Thankfully, Sir John knows because he has passed through this border a lot of times and so I was spared. Ugh! But I wouldn’t want to spoil my adventure for Cambodia and so I once again shoved it off. You can definitely feel the change of temperature along the road as we were travelling to Phnom Penh. It was burning HOT!! 😛 But I was too sleepy so I slept till we reached the city.
When we reached the bus stop, Sir John’s good friend and a Missionary from our church, Pastor Rolda and Jake (a member of the Church) fetched us with a tuktuk and a car. Sir Rolda drove us to the hotel, where he booked us for our stay in advance. It was a comfy hotel with free breakfast, The Rain Rock Hotel. We left our belongings, washed up a bit and headed down to eat a late lunch with Sir Rolda and Jake, it was around 2:00pm.
My dad wanted to try Cambodian food and so Sir Rolda led us to a local restaurant where he and his kids love to eat as well. I almost forgot, everything in Cambodia is paid in US Dollars, like you’re living in the US only its a bit hot and your change is in Cambodian Real. I would suggest that you bring USD in 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s and 20s in order to pay the exact amount. ^_^
There is another salad here without a caption. I forgot what it’s called but I clearly remember we ate the string beans RAW.
What surprised me in Cambodia, was their food. IT TASTES SOOO GOOD!! I had seconds. We had a good fellowship with Sir Rolda and he showed us the church building and its current ministries after our lunch.
Then we headed with Jake to see the Killing Fields. Let me try to give you a background on this gruesome and dark history in the lives of the Khmer people under Pol Pot’s regime.
Pol Pot (original name was Saloth Sar) was born in Central Cambodia who was under the French Occupation by then. He studied in Paris for some time and was deeply absorbed in Marxism. He then joined an underground Communist Group in Cambodia. A few years later, Cambodia gained its Independence from France and was ruled by a monarch, Prince Sihanouk. There was civil unrest in Cambodia as Pol Pot made a resistance group, the Khmer Rouge, against the monarchy. Then a sudden shift of power came as Prince Sihanouk was ousted and in retaliation, he joined with Pol Pot against the US. During this time, Pol Pot was gaining power and popularity. After the US military withdraw from Cambodia, there was turmoil and chaos in which Pol Pot found the opportunity. He marched to Phnom Penh with the Khmer Rouge and effectively seized control of the government.
What Pol Pot focused on was an agrarian utopia in Cambodia and declared that it was the “Year Zero”. He eradicated all western influences in Cambodia in favour of a peasant life. In simple terms he brought Cambodia to a time where no progress would occur, no currency, education and hospitals. He removed the basic unit of society which was the family. Thousands died from malnutritions, overwork, diseases or simply by the hands of ruthless Khmer Rouge soldiers who are trained to kill anyone in opposition or even those that made a simple mistake. Pol Pot and his killing machine slaughtered the educated, the former government officials and even those in the Khmer Rouge whom he suspected of disloyalty from the father down to the youngest child. No mercy was spared.
Ethnic minorities like the Chinese, Muslims and some Vietnamese did not escape from the terror under Pol Pot’s regime. In 1978, Vietnam launched its attack seeking to end the oppression caused by Khmer Rouge in its borders. By 1979, Pol Pot’s government fell, him and his men fled to Thailand for refuge and after a few years at the age of 73, Pol Pot died from an apparent heart attack before he faced in the International Court for Crimes against Humanity. (Source: thehistoryplace.com)
Today museums were built so the younger generations would know and be aware of what turmoil their country had to go through in order to obtain freedom from the hand of one person who was of their own.
WARNING: Some of the images that will be shown might be a bit disturbing for some.
“A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.” -David McCollough
After touring around the Killing Fields and seeing how God is still gracious to us who live today. We went back to our hotel to wash up and headed to a church in Phnom Penh that is currently celebrating their Missions Conference. Pastor Mike and his family are Missionaries here in Cambodia and have started their ministry through an orphanage. It wonderful to see how children who have been forsaken or are simple orphaned in their youth have found a home to cherish.
Sir Mike, a Filipino Missionary who can speak, read and write in fluent Khmer.
We went home blessed with the message. It was a Cambodian/English service and the church is filled with locals and some Filipinos as well. This ends our day 1 in Cambodia. I’ll be blogging about our final stay in Phnom Penh and our travel to Siem Reap tomorrow. Stay tune guys!
Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!