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Andy’s Travel Diary

Monday, 22 Jan 2007

Location: Cambodia, Cambodia

MapCAMBODIA: BEAUTY AND DARKNESS?
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So, back to Cambodia. A small country of almost 15 million people with a chaotic modern history that reads like an international relations textbook; chapters range from colonialism and indepence to war, coup d'etats, invasions and mass genocide.

One could be forgiven for assuming the final chapter details the wholesale implosion of Cambodian economic, cultural and social life during the long nightmare of the Khmer Rouge. But an epilogue is currently being written. In 1991 a comprehensive peace settlement was signed; reconstruction and stability have tentatively taken hold.

The country is still haunted by its past however, not least the 6 million landmines that still litter the countryside and hinder individuals, families and society more broadly. But travelling through Cambodia is to explore more than the horrors of state terror, grinding poverty and the dark underbelly of modernity, it is a journey through the many faces of the country; the glorious past of its ancient predecessor (Angkor), the beautiful countryside, its slow but determined steps to a stable future, and last but not least, the hope and perseverence of a people who, despite all of their problems, are quick to smile and fast to laugh.