First, let me start with the worst. Cambodia is, along with many other countries infested with corruption and Cambodias for sure got it bad. So many payoffs to so many people for absolutely nothing. In order for me to execute my trip, enter the country with my motorcycle I have had to pay out more than USD 300 in total. For absolutely nothing. This is not only humiliating to me but also to Cambodia and its political system.
I am well aware of the fact that it is not only Cambodia, loads of countries out here in Asias got the bug. I am convinced that corruption is one of the biggest factors preventing nations from obtaining better living conditions for their people and actually, I have become a part of that system, a supporter of it, for agreeing to pay, for playing along the shit rules some people have created to give themselves benefits they are not entitled to. I would have felt so much better if I could have given 300 dollars more to the Childrens Village instead.
Having said that, Cambodia is amazing. Coming back again after having been here in January the first time felt really good and assured me that my decision to help SOS in Siem Reap was a good one. First time I arrived in January I felt weird waiting in line at passport control at the airport. My knowledge about Cambodia was very limited and besides the history around the Pol Pot regime and the enormous genocide that took place, the main piece of information I had ringing in my head was that of all western pedophiles going to Cambodia to live out their sick fantasies. So when I stood their, in line, a middle aged white man, alone, I felt everyone was looking at me, thinking, there is one, one of those pedophiles. It was a very surreal and uncomfortable feeling. I know I put that on myself but I can imagine that the feeling is very similar to the feeling people get who are racially discriminated. In my case it was self inflicted, I think. But it was a healthy experience because it gave me a taste of something I am so so fortunate not having to deal with.
This time I entered with my bike from Laos in the north. Border crossing is always extremely tedious and took 4 hours at the Cambodia border. It was however, the first big milestone on my trip. It was here my fundraiser was. Cambodia is a small country and roads are good so I had no problem going all the way to Siem Reap on my first day. I dumped mine and my sons bike at the Childrens Village and passed out in the hotel. Day after I needed to fly to China and then Hong Kong for one week of work. There was no way around it but it was ok, I had it planned for some time. I must admit it did feel a bit strange, I was just getting into this nomadic biker life and suddenly I had to put my other face on, the work face. Bonus however was that my wife and daughter joined me back to Siem Reap for a few days of holiday together. It was an amazing few days and I was very proud to bring them to the SOS Village and show them what I was fundraising for. I think also for my daughter it was a good learning experience, living a very privileged life in Hong Kong. It was good for her to bring clothes and toys and give to kids who in spite of being fortunate to be at the Village really didn’t have much.
Cambodia is a lovely country, definitely worth a visit. Siem Reap is out of this world and if there ever was a spiritual place on the earth, Siem Reap is it. Do Cambodia together with Laos. That’s a brilliant combo. Do that instead of another Thailand trip. Yes, Thailand is nice but this is really something different and you have already seen Thailand.
Family left and I got my gear back on. It was time to leave Cambodia and its amazing people. I really don’t want to give a message about bad people in Cambodia talking about corruption. I see that as a really bad disease. The Cambodian people I have met have been extremely friendly, extremely generous and exceptionally pleasant to be around. Frankly I am already looking forward to go back there in November or December to present the results of the Fundraiser to my new friends at SOS Village. I really hope I can bring them good news. Make them happy. They deserve it.
Cambodia is small so only a couple of hours ride to the Thai border. A border that used to be friendly and easy to cross but Thailand is radically changing its attitude towards foreigners. Next blog on that one