vendredi 13 mars 2009

Cambodia - 22 february 2008

Cambodia was a part of French Indochina. My language is still spoken there, they still cook baguettes, and French groups visit to see the ruins of Angkor.

Philip went there in the summer, for a fortnight, sent by ICB as an international volunteer to train local teachers of English. For him, Cambodia is a country of South-East Asia – it’s on the big map that he stuck to the wall of the living room, just beneath Laos, to Thailand’s east. And it’s also the home of an Australian friend, political refugee with her parents after the persecutions of the Khmer Rouge. They were part of the Chinese minority, and practised Christianity. Different visions of Cambodia, then. I could add that of Marc: Angkor Wat, a masterpiece, a marvel that you have to see to believe.

Then there is geography: lowlands, swamps, the jungle. There are freshwater dolphins – the guides claim that you can sometimes spot them in the capital! I consult a map, and see that Cambodia (unlike Vietnam) is not oriented from mountains to the sea, but centred rather on the lake of Tonle Sap, in the centre of the country, slightly to the west. A coastal range the “Cardamom Mountains” blocks the flow of water to the west in the direction of Thailand – and all the water of the basin that forms the body of Cambodia flows into Phnom Penh along the Mekong, which later seems to become a marsh. The great temple of Angkor Wat is located just north of Tonle Sap, and Phnom Penh at the confluence of the river into which it drains and the Mekong.

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