Thursday, January 29, 2009

Looking back

This amazing trip has now come to a close and some of us will go back to the US immediately, while others stay behind to travel some more before we return to MIIS for a brand new semester. This, to me, is the hardest part of traveling- returning to your normal life...a life where you forget to look at the bigger picture, appreciate the small things, and live simply so that others may simply live. I am already forgetting small details or insights that I didn't have the chance to write down on the blog, but for the ones I do remember, I will document them now.

One statement I found interesting was that apparently arranged marriages in the Khmer Rouge outlasted most of the other Cambodian marriages. These people were basically lined up and paired together to produce more Khmer Rouge children for the survival of the group, but I am told that because these couples endured a lot of hardship together that that is one of the main reasons they are still married.

The driving is insane here- you are constantly dodging motos, swerving from hitting small children, dogs, or tuk-tuks, etc. Most of the time I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best, but apparently there is some sort of license plate hierarchy according to Sitha. She mentioned that bikes are the lowest on the totempole, followed by motos, then tuk-tuks, taxis, vans, buses, police, other government cars. Although this is not apparent to the foreign eye at first, I did begin to notice a vague sense of order amongst all the chaos and even discovered that some license plates are labled as an NGO or UN vehicle and they have priority over most but of course, the Cambodian gov plates get the right of way in the end.

At S21 and the Killing Fields, there are still traces of the lives lost during this tragedy. Blood still stains some of the prison cells, along with a faint smell. The killing fields are still adorned with pieces of clothing, a few bones sticking out of the ground from those who have not been burried properly, and just knowing that the tree labled "the killing tree" is where babies were flung against and shot is enough to make you sick to your stomach. Most Cambodians believe in the spiritual realm, so there have at least been cleansings performed by the monks to get rid of the "restless ghosts" from the past.

I plan to finish this a little later, but I'm still in Asia, so stay tuned.