One of the most interesting places we’ve been since we’ve been here (maybe the most interesting place I’ve ever been) was Cambodia.
We went to see Angkor, but while we were there we got to talk to some very friendly and open locals about Cambodia’s recent history. No matter how much I hear about the Khmer Rouge, it’s still shocking to visit the killing fields and see the lingering effects they had on the country. I loved Cambodia, but it was the saddest place I’ve been. I like to think that tourism brings in money and development for these developing countries, but I was surprised at their dependence on the US Dollar. We couldn’t buy anything with local currency, yet the cost of items in dollars was far more than we were paying for the same things here in Malaysia. How can that be good for the country?
A few years ago, I read a great book on the Khmer Rouge, told from a child’s perspective. A few years before that, I read this. I also read this one, which I didn’t like quite as much (maybe because the author is a French journalist, rather than a Cambodian). And, today I saw this article at the New York Times. I am so amazed at how the victims of the Khmer Rouge can now sit and talk with their torturers now.
“They are us, and we are them,” he said in an interview in his small office in Phnom Penh where photographs of victims and killers hang on the walls. “They are the evil side of us. Crimes are committed by human beings, by people just like me.”
Even after all they have been through, they still have the power to forgive. This makes me feel so small and petty when I think of my everyday gripes and complaints. How many times do I have to make the resolution to appreciate what I have before I actually do?