As I stated in my last post, Cambodia is a country which, until recently, was blackened by a disastrous and dangerous civil war. On my second day in Siem Reap, I visited the War Museum Cambodia, the only museum that is solely dedicated to the civil war which transpired. I’m not going to give a history lesson on here, but I recommend reading about this history of recent times.
I spent a morning visiting the War Museum Cambodia, in Siem Reap, and had the absolute pleasure and honor of being guided around the grounds by Moun Sinath. To say he was knowledgeable about the war would be an understatement – he began fighting the Khmer Rouge at the age of 14. When he was 10 years old, Moun Sinath returned home one morning to find his mother, father, and siblings had all been murdered a few minutes before. He spent 4 years on his own (from 10-14 years old, unimaginable), before joining the forces. Throughout his service, he was shot 3 times, and only left the military because he lost his right leg to a landmine.
Moun Sinath is known locally (and to the tourists) as ‘The Cat’, because of his many brushes against death. He walked us around the museum, showing us tanks, aircraft, weapons, and land mines. Land mines are still a major problem in Cambodia, and people are affected regularly in more rural areas by those which are still hidden below the ground. It was a very sobering and education experience all at once.
I needed something a little more lively and uplifting after my museum visit, so I loaded on my tuk tuk (hi Ka Pouv!), and we rode to a local area to visit family, learn about the palm tree industry. They use the palm trees for everything – ranging from sugar to drinks to cookies, and even as the siding and roofs of their houses. It was a wonderful experience, and I also got the chance to interact with some of the family members there for a bit.
It was a great, yet exhausting day. I went to bed super ready to wake up and watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat!