Let's get emotional today !

Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Paddy Rice

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Friday, July 8, 2011

I woke up at 6:30. Traffic outside was already quite busy and, with the river view bedroom, I could see all the people on the "croisette" doing some sports. You know what ? They have collective sports machines there, such as the ones you can find in fitness clubs, there for anyone to use. I find this splendid ! In the evening they gather in groups and do some dancing following a leader on some groovy music (local or westerner). I therefore had the pleasure to witness a group of maybe 30 Cambodians doing a choreography on... "insane in the brain" by Cypress Hill. A long-lasting memory for sure !

I went for a walk on my own as dad was still sleeping (and slept until 9:30 ! The world is upside down ! This man has been complaining all his life about my sleeping too late... And here I am, waiting for his royal highness to wake up when i am starving to death after a two hour walk in Phnom Penh early morning... Jeeeeez !)... So, by the time he woke up, got ready, and had breakfast with me, it was already... 11:00 ! We therefore had to rush to the French embassy : indeed, we plan on attending the "Bastille day" dinner at the French ambassador's residence :-)

Believe it or not, but the touk touk drove right past my dad's former house back in 1949... and believe it or not, it's still there ! And believe it or not : it's being renovated right now ! And believe it or not... Oh well, let's skip the french embassy part (uneventful : we got our invitations, and the French abroad are still as obnoxious as usual...) and let's get to the emotional part... : yes, believe it or not but after a short talk to the renovation manager, he gently let us in to visit the house... And - oh my god - can you believe the new owner is smart enough to renovate it as it was back then - "pre-war" as they say - and eve the tiles on the floor are still the same !!! Unbelievable ! Same as 62 years ago, after a civil war, a genocide, a ghost town... Wow. Emotions. Dad was not hoping that much... And there it was...

There it was, as if it was waiting for us... We got in there. Dad showed me around : "there's the dining room, and that's where dad used to have his desk... Oh this is where he was building some cabinets and stuff..." - "oh, where was the kitchen ?" - "oh, the kitchen was outside the main house, in the servants quarters..." Incredible. The massive stairway going to the first floor was the same as back then. Dad told me how much he played on it with his older brother Jacques... To the dismay of their mother... My granny... I could picture her in there. And it goes on : "That was the parent's bedroom and their dressing room... Here was my bedroom and there was Jacques'... Oh and here, against the wall, was dad's rifle collection... These were the rifles we used to take, Jacques and I, to shoot the birds in the big tree outside..."... And the story goes on and on and on... The workers there, soon all aware of what is going on, look at us, all smiles. They looked amused, and even touched by the beauty of it all. Dad is back 62 years in time and his daughter is with him on this time warp... Wow. I don't know who's the most emotional about his : him or me. But hey, this was something awesome...

Right after this we went to the genocide museum... Which we thought was dad's former school. But actually it wasn't ! Pffffeeww ! We visited the place nonetheless... Wow. It was basically a former high school transformed during the Pol Pot period into a prison and an interrogation (read torture) facility. Just a couple of numbers : 14000 people went through this prison. 8 made it out alive. No it's not a typo. Eight people survived. There are photographs everywhere in these rooms. Photographs of highly dangerous rebels, whose age range from 8 years old to 50... Looking at the photograph of an 8-year old girl, whose look is so scared, knowing she was tortured, held in those horrible cells, until she "confessed" then she was taken to the "killing field" 7 Km from there to be executed... Seeing this and realizing this is a... How can I say... Emotional experience, to say the least. You realize, again and again that there is no limit to men's stupidity and cruelty towards one another... The beautiful part of that visit was to meet one of the survivors... He's 85 and he's the director of an association dedicated to the memory of the genocide. Wow. Weird feeling... Goosebumps...

Last but not least : we found dad's real college ! A huge and beautiful school... I had no battery left so no pictures. That can't be ! I'll go back to make some :-)... Again, amazing feeling to walk this school hand in hand with my dad, knowing he had ran around like a naughty boy he was... 62 years ago.

After all those emotions, we got back to the hotel, at around 5 pm and... Slept until 8 !! Then the manager of our hotel suggested a very nice place to have dinner : the Titanic restaurant, right by the Tonle Sap river... When I saw eel was om the menu, I couldn't resist and was right not to : it was awesome... After this great meal, we walked the streets, stopped for fresh fruit, watched people in awe in front of their TV watching a thai boxing match... And headed back to the hotel... Where a TERRIBLE (and I weigh the word) band was trying to play some international covers... Well, as i told dad : I could sing better than the singer, play the guitar better than the guitar player and even play percussions better than the percussionist... We rushed to our bedroom and quickly fell asleep... What a day !



PS : no need to say what was the highlight of the day ? :-)
PS : please comment.... This is part of my motivation to write !!!
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Gaelle35 on

Un récit plein d'émotion..... Merci de nous le faire partager. Profites de ces instants précieux avec ton Père que tu dois découvrir sous un nouveau jour.
Ouvre les yeux, sens, touches, écoutes et aimes.

Ludo on

As I told little sis' I am envious of you. You writing about seeing that house and visiting it gives me the goosebumps.... :-) Live on!

cotcot on

Ma chérie, mes bras sont couverts de "carne de galinha" (cherche, tu vas comprendre !!!) à la lecture de cette extraordinaire journée avec ton père. Quelle chance il a eue de pouvoir retrouver la maison de son enfance ... et de t'avoir à ses côtés pour pouvoir partager son émotion !!! JE SUIS RAVIE ...
Quant au mémorial, quelle abomination, mais vous avez eu raison d'y aller, pour toutes ces victimes, bien sûr, et pour ce vieux monsieur, ce survivant qui voit qu'on s'intéresse et qui peut témoigner; c'est certainement ce qui le maintient en vie !!

Depuis ton départ les jours sont chaque fois plus passionnants ... attention à l'anti-climax, mais je sais que tu sais "regarder" et "voir" (tout le monde ne sait pas et rappelle toi, "les miracles n'arrivent pas aux indiférents" !!!)

Mini me on

Believe it or not, I believe you ;)

Enjoy, Charlene bientôt en Asie aussi!

Nathalie on

c'est mieux que dans tes reves, dis moi... Et surtout que dans ceux de ton pere... Il fait le voyage de sa vie, c'est incroyable - lire tout ça me rend tres heureuse pour toi - je t'embrasse ma belle

Ludo on

when do we see pictures?

supet-toutounet on

Vraiment superbe ta journee... A la hauteur de tes attentes ?
J'imagine le meme voyage avec mon pere en Tunisie ou il n'a pas remis les pieds depuis l'independance :)
Ils faisaient quoi les parents de ton papa en Indochine ?
Je vais aller jeter un oeil sur le site web du musee de la torture dont tu parles...

nadegeb72 on

Angkor ne s est pas fait en un jour pti frere... :-)

supet-toutounet on

Bon ben j'y suis allée sur le site du musée du génocide.... Et j'ai lu un tout petit peu sur le génocide cambodgien... Sachant que les Khmers rouges ont tue plus de 20% de la population entre 1975 et 1979, chaque Cambodgien en vie aujourd'hui a statistiquement perdu au moins un membre de sa famille directe durant la dictature. Et pourtant j'ai l'impression que les Cambodgiens en parlent peu... Je me trompe ?

ludo on

super les photos!

Mini me on

Ca à l'air d'être chouette le Venezuela

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