My Life Abridged
Alright, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m old. Like, really old. Stuff was found that dates back to roughly 6000 BC. Think really old dishes. In my early years I had a pish posh of Indian and Thai influences and so emerged the Khmer Empire in 802 where I settled into Angkor. By the 13th century I was introduced to Buddhism and it has been my main religion ever since.
The 15th century came the downfall of the Khmer Empire and into my angsty teenage years I went- better known to some as the “Dark Ages” in which my Thai and Vietnamese neighbs fought a LOT over me. But one day I decided I’d had enough and in 1867 my king said- “Hey, can I get a little help here?” to the French. ::Bats eyelashes:: Besides a short stint of Japanese occupation during WWII, I was in that same relationship with France until November 9, 1953 when I “just needed some space.” I needed my independence.
In the 70’s I got into a really bad and abusive relationship. It’s tough to talk about but important for everyone to know about me. His name was Pol Pot. And he spearheaded what is known as the Khmer Rouge that lasted from 1975-1979. An estimated 1.7 million people were killed. That’s 20% of the total population. Let that sink in. Vietnam came to my rescue, but peace didn’t officially come until 1991 when a peace treaty was signed in Paris. But that’s more of like a 5th date kind of conversation.
I came out the other side and I’m still here. The monarchy is back- but it’s mostly for show. It happened so recently that I am still recovering and if you look for it, you can tell. But I am doing everything I can to pick myself up again. I remain one of the poorest in the world and corruption is a huge problem, but I’m hoping my charm and beauty make up for it!
TV Shows: Lost- The guy in all the Dharma videos is Cambodian!
Movies: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider- Notoriously filmed among the temples near Siem Reap
Five Things I Can't Live Without
Ice Breakers Fun facts
- The median age of a Cambodian is 24.9 years old and less than 10% of the population is over the age of 55 due to the genocide. (ok, not fun, but really interesting)
- Cambodia is the only country in the world where KFC is losing money.
- Cambodians believe that counting a gecko’s chirp will tell you whom you will marry. The first chirp means you’ll marry a bachelor, second chirp means a widower, third chirp is a bachelor again and so on. Keep counting until the gecko stops.
Deal Breakers Just No....
- Do not give money to children! In SE Asia, begging children have – for lack of a better word- pimps. Most of the money goes right back to these pimps and the children get very little. Buy them an ice cream instead!
- While orphaned children is a huge problem in Cambodia- do not volunteer in an orphanage unless you are a qualified professional, and do so for a chunk of time. Unqualified people coming in and out leaves these children abandoned on a repeated basis. Many orphanages in Cambodia have been set up for the sole purpose of gaining money and many children aren’t even orphans.
- Human trafficking is a MAJOR problem. If you see something suspicious, report it! Don’t be the person who assumes someone else will. Mention it to a hotel manager for instance. While you might assume that you’d probably never encounter something that like, from what I’ve been reading it’s a lot more commonplace than we realize.
How can I help?
Support local establishments! Find the restaurants that help support orphans, the disabled, under privileged (Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world) or victims of sex trafficking. Many provide medical support, training, education, English language and other helpful services. Sugar n’ Spice or Friends in Phnom Penh, Haven in Siem Reap, or Epic Arts Café in Kampot are all great examples!