A most exhausting Country
Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
163Trip End Ongoing
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My week of traveling through Cambodia took an emotional toll on me that climaxed last night at the Beatocello presentation. I have always been "in tune" with the emotions of others. There are some people who call themselves empaths who truly feel other peoples' emotions. I don't think I'm at that same level. In the past few years I've learned how to generate additional energy so that this draining effect of feeling other peoples' emotions doesn't drag me down. This past week was different due to the extreme nature of the history in Cambodia. I believe I wasn't feeling the hurt of the people living today but of the pain and suffering of the souls killed during the genocide.
Last nights' presentation had a profound effect on me for a few reasons. First of all the 15-20 minute video showed the extent of the health crisis in this country. Second, the video was about the children of Cambodia. This always makes it more difficult as I have always loved children and been close to them. Third, and probably the most important reason is that as I watched the video I observed Chanlae.
For two days she and I toured part of her country. I was able to get to know her "up close and personal". This connection changed the dynamics of how the world around me would affect me. The problems of this country are now more of "my" problem because I now have a "friend" who lives this nightmare every day.
Living in North America we read about the wars in various countries, the earthquakes, the tsunamis, that kill hundreds, if not thousands of people. Yes, we are sad when we hear the news. We are sad and our hearts go out to the families of those who children, or parents, or brother, or sister die in a car accident in our city. But the feelings we have go deeper when it's a co-workers', or neighbors', or a relation of a close friend.
If I had not met Chanlae and spent two days with her, Cambodia would not have affected me the way it did. Vietnam and Laos have the same poverty. They have been through wars in my lifetime though not the genocide. Each time I leave a country I seem to leave a part of my soul. I have this feeling deep inside of me as I'm leaving that I haven't finished what I came to do.
After finally getting out of bed and showering I wandered into the French Quarter for brunch. I took the route through the "wrong side of the tracks". This neighborhood is on the other side of the river from the hotel. There I observed the locals living the life they live. Ending up in the French Quarter, the tourist section, came the realization of the extremes of life.
I sat near the sidewalk in a cafe and ordered breakfast. Two young girls came by selling bracelets. One of them asks me where I came from. When I say, Canada, she starts off on this speech about Canada. She knows the population, that it has two languages, French and English and she rattled off a few other statistics and the name of our Prime Minister. Now that was quite impressive. They're trying to sell me about a dozen bracelets. I say I don't need. I offer $1.00 for 2. No, they want to make a bulk sale. I tell them to go away. They won't. Finally the human encyclopedia relents and accepts $1.00 for 2 bracelets. I give a $1.00 "tip" for the sales tactics. Then she indicates that I have to buy from her friend. I say no, that they have to share the "tip".
I'm finishing up eating when a guy shows with a box on a strap around his neck and a sign for me to read. He's not asking for money, but that I buy a book from him. I don't need a book. This guy is missing both hands and forearms. The sign says he lost them to a landmine. He shows me a few books. I relent and buy one about Pol Pot and the author's interpretation of why this genocide may have happened. Is the truth ever revealed? Even the instigators of these events may not truly realize why they did what they did and why the events unfolded as they did.
All experience begins with a first step. Once that first step is taken we never know where we will end up. My life is an example of that. I definitely never expected to be where I currently am a few years ago. I decided to prove that the Law of Attraction worked and that we do create our lives with our thoughts. I am somewhere I did not expect to be.
I wander back to the hotel through the "wrong side of the tracks" neighborhood, lost in thought. I am not really focused on anything and my mind isn't "thinking". This is the neighborhood where Chanlae lives. Though, from what she's told me, she's one of the lucky ones. Her University education costs her $400 per year. When she graduates she'll probably make in the top 2% of the income for the country. Over 90% of the population are rural dwellers and survive on less then a few dollars a month. During our touring I asked her to show me what kind of house her parents live in. It's definitely one of the nicer ones. Yes, she is one of the lucky ones who's fate dealt her an Ace of hearts.
Back at the hotel and I re-pack my things and write a few blog entries. I then wander back into the tourist district to find a bank and replenish my US$ funds, and eat supper. Bank machines in Cambodia give out US$ as the currency of trade is that in this country.
I then stop in for another Cambodian massage. I don't feel much like talking and the masseuse I get seems to know this. This time I get a "real" deep tissue massage. The first one a couple of days ago was more of a "pretend" massage where the goal seemed to be milking the customer out of some serious loot for a "special" massage. The lesson learned, go to a true massage salon and not a hotel offering massages in one of their rooms. That is, unless that is what you are looking for.
As I'm getting my massage, on the other side of the curtain, the masseuse is giggling away. My masseuse tells that woman to quiet down. More giggling. Not too sure what the guy is telling her or what's really going on. My masseuse is looking around the curtain every so often. She then lifts the curtain for me to see. The other woman is walking on the guys back. Definitely not a Cambodian massage technique. So even in a real massage salon you can end up having less of a massage and more of a giggling session.
I return to the hotel and finalize my packing. It's time to say goodbye to Cambodia. It was a very sobering experience. Definitely not what I had planned.