Friday, December 22, 2006

The journey is the reward

The day started with a blood red sunrise over the Bassac (lower Mekong). It was in 1979, close to this spot, that the world first awoke to the full horror of the Khmer Rouge. Vietnamese patrols spotted dead bodies floating down stream from the closed world of Cambodia up river. This flow of death increased as the days passed: many starved, many were executed. Either way, the bodies swelled the river and the secret was exposed.

Yet two generations later, an irrepressible spirit lives on. You can see it in the smiling faces of school children; you can feel it through the determination of survivors of the Khmer Rouge to let go and look forward.

As we travelled up river into Cambodia, a whole new world opened up to us. When Matt*, our American 'speedboat hitchhiker' need a comfort break we surveyed the distant banks of the river for signs of life and eventually moored at a local village. Graciously allowing us to use their facilities, we were all directed to the cashew fields to pee in the wind!

Isn't it funny how the unplanned activities breath life into a holiday? Chancing on the local kids' inquisitiveness, we took photos on our digital cameras and were able to show them the results. The smiles and laughter (truly a universal language) remain with me to this day.

*See Matt's photos of his trip as it merged with ours during a memorable day.

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