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We got to Phnom Penh on Wednesday, travelling by bus through the Cambodian countryside in a very pleasant five hours. Rice paddies and water buffalo were everywhere, much like in Bangladesh. What was missing were the people. Cambodia has been decimated by war going back to the Japanese invasion in 1942 and continuing more or less continuously until the Vietnamese drove out Pol Pot in 1979.

Phnom Pehn is on the Mekong River, the ninth largest river in the world and navigable by cargo ship right up to the city. Before Pol Pot took power in 1975 it had a population of two million, but under the Khmer Rouge it was emptied to 50,000 loyal cadres, most of whom were employed in the torture and extermination of everyone who could read. Slowly it is becoming a city again, although without an entire generation of doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, clerks and administrators, it has been a long slow road.

We took in the temples and monuments, including the infamous S21, and strolled along the quay. We bought a few things in the Russian and Central markets and relaxed in the numerous little cafes that line the streets. Tomorrow we are headed down to the south coast for a few days on the beach before coming back to Phnom Pehn to meet Pam’s colleagues in the city. We are working on getting some pictures up, but it is not so easy when the internet cafes have no photo programs. Believe me, we have lots to show you!

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