I had read on the internet ,on a bloggers site ,that Cambodians are very friendly people and almost all of them speak good English.I did find the people very friendly and helpful but did not see pervasiveness proficiency in English speaking.Many did speak in broken English and some didnt know the language even in good hotels.
There was one very stark exception though .Just after we had finished our visit to the Angkur Wat Temple and were relaxing outside n the Western Entrance , a little boy came to us and asked if we wanted to buy some fruits .We said we didnt , but he stayed on and struck up a conversation with us.He spoke very good English and with an excellant accent; and he was a boy of limited means helping his mother to sell fruits!!! He was fairly knowledgeable about India and knows of it as a country with a rich tradition and history.
A little later a monkey walked up and the boy went along with it to the place where his fruits were being sold. There he and the monkey settled down comfortably and the boy began to feed the monkey .We went across to take a closer look and saw the most heart warming sight.The boy and monkey together were plucking out the tender portions of the leafy head of a pineapple and the boy was feeding it to the monkey.It was such a wonderful sight of comradeship between a human and a monkey.The boy truely has something wonderful within him and I do feel that given favourable circumstances he will go places .
Siem Reap, the staging town for visitors to the Angkur temples, is a much better laid out and much cleaner city than Phnom Phen.Looks like there is a fair amount of foriegn funds and foreign assistance going into planning and building the city and in particular its tourist infrastructure.The airport is run by a French company and so is the Artisan Angkur programme of training and skills development of the rural and in some cases physically challenged people.These people are taught skills for making silk goods, wooden and stone sculptures and paintings and the same are marketed and sold through the classy Artisan Angkur retail outlets.This programme is wonderful as it is helping the rural people increase their income levels by providing them a livelyhood and reducing migration into the cities. The informative panels on the walls of the reception at the training centres for silk making and crafts informs us that the "copoeratives", if i may call it so ,allows for partial ownership by the artisans.
Seeing the training establishments of Artisans Angkur and watching the trainees at work was a very heart warming experience .The traditional warmth and friendliness of the people made the atmosphere that mush more appealing.
The people we met all across Siem Reap were very friendly and the distinct feeling I had was that the people of Cambodia bear no grudges and have a forgive and forget attitude to life.It’s just a feeling I have based on a few days stay .Maybe that’s why we see no animosity for those who commited crimes against their own people.It seems as if many of those involved just melted into the populace and carried on life as usual.
During the visit I watched briefly a CNN TV programme called the CNN Heros.The episode covered the life of an Indian Doctor who had lost his family members in the terrorist strike on the Air India plane flying out of Toronto.He decided that the best thing for him to do was not to keep thinking about the tragic loss but to work instead on some thing that would add meaning to the lives of others.He set up a programme of checking and performing catract operations on poor people who were losing their eye sight .The TV programme recorded that he had carried out over a hundred thousand operations ,most of them free,and saved the eye sight of over 50% .I supose there are better ways to handle the trauma of suffering from accidental deaths or brutality inflicted by warped minds ,than to seek vengence or appropriate punishment .
We didnt see much of Asia’s longest river The Mekong, or the great Tonle Sap lake and river. We just about got a peek of the Mekong River as we were being guided to the Royal Palace at Phnom Phen .At Seam Reap we missed the opportunity to take a trip on a tuk tuk to the Tonle Sap. It’s also possible that due to thew annual monsoon flooding we may not have been able to get to see the great lake.We did get to see these great rivers as we were landing and taking off at Phnom Phen and Seim Reap and did see large amount of flooding at both places.We were really lucky that all through our stay in Cambodia the rain didnt play spoil sport.This was inspite of the news as we were setting off from India of landslides and heavy rains at Vietnam and torrential rains in Phnom Phen when we were at Siem Reap.Looks like the Force was on our side once again and ensuring that we had littleor no difficulty right through the holiday.
On one of our lunch visits to the ASI Canteen we were surprised to be introduced to the current Miss Cambodia !!!! her mother apparently helpsout at the ASI Canteen.It’s not every day you get to see a beauty queen at such close quarters!!