The land of young people
If you walk the streets of Cambodia, you may notice that there are a lot of young people walking around here – even more than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. You rarely see old people. Why is that actually? Are the people in Cambodia not getting that old? Or do they die early from diseases? There is a sad explanation.
From 1975 onwards, the communists of the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia under their leader, who was called Pol Pot (see also History and Politics). During his reign, which lasted until 1979, many people died in Cambodia. The exact number is still not known, but it was probably several million.
This happened over 30 years ago. Some of these people would be older now, or at least a little older. But since they died, they no longer walk the streets of the country today. Young people moved up, but it does take a while before a whole generation is replaced. Almost every family lost members during these dire times.
Dead hushed up
To this day, people in Cambodia find it very difficult to talk about these bad times. There are only a few sentences about this time in school books. So many children in Cambodia often do not know what to do with when you talk about the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. And many adults are silent too. Why?
Some people didn’t come to terms with what happened back then because they were just so bad. Many of them were still children and no one helped them come to terms with the pain after parents or siblings died. And some were silent and silent because they were perhaps among the perpetrators.
Not only in Vietnam, where entire areas were mined during the war, but also in neighboring Cambodia, there are still mines in the ground and endanger people. These were laid by the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnamese, the Cambodian government and later also by the USA. Children who play outside are particularly at risk. You can step on such a mine at any time and the consequences are dire.
Fields are dangerous
The mines are in the rivers, in the forest and in the fields and fields. Cambodia has the largest number of people in the world who lack arms or legs, around 40,000. They lost their limbs because they stepped on such a mine. Many people are still killed or seriously injured as a result of these bombs. Fortunately, there is now a lot more education, so the children are more cautious.
What makes it particularly bad is the Buddhist belief. Those who hurt themselves are blamed for themselves. So many disabled people, including many children, hide in order not to disgrace their parents. Although they themselves cannot help their misfortune at all.
Contaminated with landmines
According to elaineqho.com, Cambodia is one of the most heavily landmine contaminated countries in the world. It is believed that between three and seven million explosive devices are still undiscovered. Since the 1980s, 64,000 people have died or were seriously injured as a result of this danger. And there is still a risk of injuring themselves. The danger remains, especially for children who like to play outside.
The land mines cause malnutrition
Although Cambodia is actually a fertile land, more than half of the population are malnourished. Because many fields that could actually be tilled are still littered with landmines and it is life-threatening to grow rice or vegetables there. Work began on clearing the fields from the mines in 1991, but it will be a long time before all landmines are actually discovered and removed.
Baguette in Cambodia
The cuisine of Cambodia is strongly influenced by the cuisine of the neighboring countries Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The Cambodian dishes are similar to the dishes that are known from other Asian countries. But the cuisine in Cambodia is usually not that spicy. And you can even find a baguette or two as a remnant of French colonial rule.
However, as everywhere in Asia, the most important food is rice. But there is also noodles. Many dishes are sweet and sour and consist of fish, chicken or vegetables. In addition, sauces are usually served, such as the hot chili sauce and the very spicy fish sauce. It is often seasoned with coriander and lemongrass.
Soups have also found their way into Cambodia. In Cambodia it is simply called Sup and it comes in all variations and with different ingredients such as fish, meat and vegetables.