CAMBODIA, JANUARY 1997

Date: 
18/01/1997
Country: 
CAMBODIA

18 January 1997
I am in Amsterdam. This time I am on my way to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. It will be the first time I am there. I have to give some lectures and participate in a meeting organised by Food & Agriculture Organisation in Cambodia. First I have to meet Dr. Preston in Ho Chi Minh City then go by plane to Phnom Penh. In fact I would like to stay in Cambodia for a few more days just to see a little bit more and go to the temple of Angkor Wat, if possible.

20 January 1997
I arrived in Vietnam in good time and I am now actually in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The first day I spent in preparation for the meeting and I had the opportunity for the first time in my life to write a speech for a Minister of Agriculture, Borin was busy and then he asked if I could write his speech. Today was very interesting, the minister gave the speech I had written and they thought the paper was so good so that they asked me if I could also write a speech for him to finish off with. In my speech the sophisticated system broke down for showing my slides. Tonight I have been with Samnang, a Cambodian student for dinner at a fantastic place really. We also went to visit a nightclub which was a little bit suspicious, it was really packed up with prostitutes but we did not take any notice of them. The thing to observe in Cambodian small farms was the use of sugar palm. Never seen before to that extent. Bamboo jugs are used to collect the juice in enormous quantities giving to 8to15 litres per tree per day about 3 to 4 kilograms of sugar per day per tree. They also have a very well organised biogas system.

25 January 1997
I am now actually back in Vietnam, but I will just describe what happened in the last week in Cambodia. It was very unforgettable, I went with Samnang to visit his family, all is poor and most members of his family are females as male members are missing due to the Pol Pot horror. Then I moved to Hawaii Hotel and this was nearer to the city centre. What is Cambodia like? My first impression; very poor but such a wonderful place. All meeting were quite good and the young student excelled and I made an evaluation not too bad. Then we went to markets in Phnom Penh, a marvellous city but scarred by war. The tragedy of Pol Pot is so enormous as to be impossible to believe, many thousands of people were killed and 2 to 3 millions of a population of about 9 million died. I went to see a young student. The so- called Russian Market was really good. A restaurant called Hong Meak on the Mekong was my favourite. Kustantinah came with me on a trip to Angkor Wat, the famous temple complex, well, it was almost unbelievable. We sailed up by speedboat which was very slow and we had to sit on the top of the speedboat and it was very hot for my skin it is also peeling off my feet and my head we past floating boats near Angkor. They kept pigs in one end of the boat and the pigs consume the household scraps and green stuff from the plants on the river They live in one end of the boat and the humans in the other end of the boat. It was such a nice thing. A driver was waiting for us and we went to see the many temples. It is still not completely secured there were some military lorries going up taking people to other temples with guns at the back of the car. Angkor Wat and Wat Tong and others were smiling Buddhas, the first complex was Hindu but later used for Buddhist. It is almost better than Borobudur in Yogya. Then back to Phnom Penh by a small plane and one more day in Hawaii Hotel, an unforgettable experience so here I am now in Finca Ecologica. in Ho Chi Minh city .