Cambodia is a country currently going through a slow rebirth. Its recent tragic history of the notorious Khmer Rouge cleansing has left the country in a dire state. In an effort to turn Cambodia into a communist state focused on agriculture rather than industry, Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge movement, set up cleansing camps and labor camps to rid Cambodia of its intellectual leaders and wealthy citizens resulting in a nation of peasants. He decided to empty the cities of their inhabitants, claiming that the cities are breeding grounds for any resistance to his cause. In Phnom Penh he went so far as to turn a children's high school into a prison, famously known as S-21. He converted classrooms into torture chambers and built brick walls to create barracks. His reign lasted from 1975-1979 and during that time Cambodia saw the death of approximately 2 million of its citizens. **Wikipedia.
There is optimism in the air. Recognizing Cambodia’s need for support from the global non-profit community, many NGO’s, such as Epic Arts http://www.kampotinteract.org/epic_arts.html, have set up camp here in order to help the locals get back on their feet. While everyone realizes that this is a long-tern recovery process, there is reason to believe the current conditions will improve.
After spending a few days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, we hopped on a bus to head south to Kampot and Kep. We arrived in Kampot rather late and checked into the modest Blissful Guesthouse in the center of the deserted town. At the hotel bar we befriended a group of European/Israeli travelers and headed out for beers at Honey Bar. Reconfirming my theory that Milton Bradley’s Connect Four has a monopoly on Southeast Asian board game imports, we sat down to a few games before heading home.
The next morning, after waking up in an overheated haze due to no air-con we decided to wander around town. One of the unfortunate side effects of traveling through SEA is the inevitable development of a tough exterior when dealing with transport vendors. As a tourist, when walking down the street in just about any SEA city or town, taxi drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, moto drivers, bike drivers and rickshaw pullers are constantly soliciting their services. Just as we finally found some peace and quiet a tuk-tuk driver approached us and offered to drive us around. Michael, noting my impatient expression, took the reigns and responded with his patient phrase of choice, “Not today my friend, today we walk.” Disappointed, the tuk-tuk driver simply sat down next to us and handed us his card with a number on the back..