Cambodia. What comes in your mind when you think about Cambodia? Try to take a few seconds and think about it. When I first heard Cambodia, I thought of travelling to a beautiful country. Well, I recently visited Cambodia, it was lovely indeed but with something always lingering behind. What is that? You may ask, well that’s the violent and deadly history the country has. During this, the country lost about a quarter of the population.
I was in Cambodia during this time in November. It was my 5th day. I went with my school as a service trip to help people. But other than learning about service work, I also learnt about more specifically the history of the country which is embedded into everything they have. For me overall, it was something that was fascinating but unbearable at the same time. During the time Khmer Rouge was over the country, they killed people and children in the most violent yet astonishing ways because bullets were expensive, the only other solution was these kinds of killings. It’s astonishing because it shows how the human mind works. It comes up with new ideas when the first one doesn’t work and how it feels ok with some of the most violent ideas. It’s unbearable because we have never known these kinds of things, so to listen and learn about these things is sometimes what keeps me up at nights. A lot of people suffered very violent deaths because of who they were or just because someone had the urge to kill. It gives me the chills just thinking about it. What makes me even more intrigued and disgusted, is how these people had to live in jails and “centres” even before they were killed, even before they finally got escaped reality. These people were forced to live in absolutely disgusting and horrible conditions, and they had no control over it. They were tortured very badly, not allowed to cry or do anything to speak up for themselves and only accept what they had coming.
Something that still surprises me is how the country built itself up. How it rose up from the ashes and built itself over again. This time better and stronger. I think the part of the people that I love is how they stood up after everything happened and said: “Let’s build our country.” It shows courage, bravery and hope. There are a lot of people right now among them who lost family members during the Khmer Rouge, and it’s inspiring how they stood up amongst all that was fallen. Those years of terror are now a part of their culture and their country because no matter what they do, and how they grow it will always be a part of them, and instead of being ashamed or trying to hide it, they acknowledge that it happened because it gave them an opportunity to build a stronger country. This is something we can take from them, instead of crying over something, we should acknowledge the opportunities that opened because of it.
This was my first ever out of country school trip, also my first trip without my parents and I’m happy to say that it went exceptionally well. I have to thank my teachers, rustic program leaders and of course my friends for making this trip very memorable and fantastic time. I was scared before I went, I was excited yes, but also scared however all that left me, once I reached Cambodia because I felt that being scared of these things was stupid, that I would have to do this in the future. So I thought of it as a trip with my friends, with service work which made it so much easier to go through the trip but I have to be honest, by the 3rd day, I was having fun, and by the end of the week, I didn’t want to come back. This trip was filled with laughter, jokes, songs, dances and a little bit of crying too. I got to know everyone around me through different ways, and I’m glad that I went because if not, I would never have made some amazing memories with everyone. The best part of the trip other than experiencing new things was spending time with people, and I never thought I would spend time with. After the trip ended, I made so many new friends, which was something to look forward to when I came back to Korea.
The trip was made even better and more fun by our five program leaders who bonded with us and gave us an experience of the lifetime. They were fun, open, sharing and kind. They helped us with everything and made sure we were having the best time. We had sing-along sessions, laughs and more with all of them, and it’s surprising to know that you like someone just after knowing them for a day or two.
Overall the trip was a fantastic learning experience, and if you’re planning to go somewhere with your friends and family, I would suggest Cambodia. It has incredible views, really great food and is a fantastic experience on its own. There are a lot of restaurants and cafes which look great and serve great food. There are also a lot of amazing places you can visit which will undoubtedly make the trip memorable.
I hope you liked this post and plan to visit Cambodia soon. Here are some pictures that I took of the various places there. Don’t forget to like, comment and share.