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05.10.2010

Some Facts and Comments About Cambodia for a Good Start

It's been a week here and I feel that I should write something before I get so lazy as not to come anywhere close to the computer. Writing needs some discipline and these days... I'm not disciplined at all.

Anyway... I'm in Siem Reap, in the Siem Reap province in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I'll spend here a bit of time and I would like to give my readers some overview of what is going on in the country at the moment but also I would like to tell you more about the country's history. Yes, I believe that eveybody has heared about Angkor  Wat, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields but the country has much more to offer than this. I'll show you places to go in Siem Reap: restaurants, pubs, hotels, hostels. I'll write about expats who live here and their influence on the community both good and not so. I'll show you NGOs wroking here and helping Cambodians to build their country, country that was totally destroyed materially and intelectually . Cambodia will be my experiment in writing reports for you so that you know more and so I understand deeper what these people here are about.

Quick Overview

Cambodia faces the whole array of problems: poverty, lack of good education, corruption, lack of basic infastructure, violation of human rights, to name only few. With Laos, Cambodia remain one of the poorest countries in the region of South-East Asia. According to International Monetary Found (2009), Cambodia's GDP ammounts to 2,015 international dollars, putting it in the 145th place in the world (there are 181 countries on the list)."Between one third and one half of its 13 million people live in abject poverty on less than USD1 per day, and the number rise every year." (John Tully, A Short History of Cambodia, Silkworm Books, 2006, p. 229)
In the same book we read that almost 50% of the country's budget relies on foreign aid donations which, unfortunately, are so often embezelled and stole by greedy officials. It seems that everybody takes money here: policemen, high-school and university teachers, clerks, doctors - anyone who has any kind of power.

Prostitution and child prostitution are big, though the governement is trying to take some steps to prevent it. Two years ago I spoke to girls and asked why they did it, they'd smile and say that if not this, they'd rot somewhere in the countrysite. It's their job that allows them to support their impoverished families, their children and helps them to survive. It would be a mistake, however, to think that prostitution is driven only by the demand from Western men. Brothels are massively popular among local men who sometimes tend to treat women worse than their motorbikes.

I know that the picure I've just painted is not a pretty one. But it's just one side. Cambodia has it's bright side too: crazy music that so many Westeners hate as it'll wake up you at 5 am blasting from laudspeakers to announce a wedding or a funeral and continues to balst for a few consecutive days. Cambodia has its ghosts and believes, celebrations and offerings, festivals... and all these so oriental, so interesting and captivating. All these to be discovered. :-)

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