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Saturday, November 16: Day 208 – Sunrise Surprise

We got up at 4:10am to get a picture of Angkor Wat at sunrise. Even the hotel staff was zonked out.

Our tuk tuk took us right to the entrance where we waited with about 300 of our closest friends to be admitted. Fortunately we remembered to bring our tickets.

Once we were in, the people with tripods ran to get to a spot where one can see the reflection.

Rob, and our friend, Craig nestled in as best that they could. I went to the other side. People had climbed through a do-not-enter fence.

As a rule follower, I found an acceptable spot although it didn’t have reflection. Here was my view.

Here was Rob’s view:

And as long as we are up…

We went back home. Rob went to eat breakfast with Craig and Ranee while I watched a live match on final weekend of University of Indianapolis volleyball. Our daughter, Julie Street, is the defensive coach. The time here is exactly opposite so if their match is at 7pm, it is 7am here in Siem Reap. We are truly half a world away.

This breakfast buffet was most unusual as it included a dim sum…

…and a smoothie bowl. To top it off, I drank juice made from beets, carrots and apples. The egg yolks here are bright orange!! This is a far cry from my normal bowl of Cheerios.

This hotel has two swimming pools: freshwater and a saltwater. We have little rooms poolside in which to lounge.

In the restaurants they are always putting the napkin in my lap. And there is always a doorman to open the door. He was thrilled that I took his picture.

We had to leave this little paradise for another little paradise. Rob asked for a suite and we got a double one. We each have a room with a view!

We went by tuk tuk to the Cambodian Landmine Museum. At times it felt like we were experiencing landmines as we traveled for 45 minutes through potholed dirt roads! Here is a motorbike gasoline station.

Fill ‘er up!

There are many types of landmines: some are intended for people and others for vehicles. There are no clicks or delays as seen in Hollywood.

Here are the landmines first used in Roman times but still in use today.

There were 2,000 fatalities per year, but it is now 50 fatalities per year. These victims are innocent. Several of the ones who lost limbs are volunteer tour guides.

Landmines are called the scars of wars and are left behind in countries by other countries. I know that the US was carpet bombing here during the Vietnam war, however, as massive as that assault was, there are more landmines from China and the Soviet Union. Staggering!!

Akira was a young Khmer Rouge guerilla for 20 years. His parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge. He thinks that he was born in 1970. Akira was recruited by the Khmer Rouge at five years old.

Akira removed and disabled 50,000 landmines by hand. That is not allowed anymore.

Today they use radar, dogs, armored cars, and even African pouch rats.

Finding and deactivating landmines is very costly. An armored suit costs $500.

Here are some of the deactivated landmines:

Syria and Myanmar still actively use landmines today.

The Landmine Treaty proposed by Canada banned the use, making, or selling of landmines. Some countries have signed but China, Soviet Union and USA have not. Although this seems like a logical humane step, it seems to have some flaws, and some signers want to leave the treaty.

In recent years mines set during the civil war have been found. Landmines from WWI and WWII are still found. However, Cambodia and Laos have at least 4.5 million landmines left in the ground today. Landmines inflict casualties long after the last shot is fired.

Most of the unexploded ordinance (UXO) are in northwest Cambodia along the Thai border. In 2018 a total of 58 casualties occurred. The first six months in 2019, sixty-two causalties have been recorded. This is a one hundred percent increase.

One out of 300 people are a victim of a landmine in Cambodia. They have experienced thirty years of revolution, genocide, invasion, war which resulted in starvation, disease, and murder. Now they deal with leftover landmines.

Princess Di brought attention to this problem several months before her death. She supported the HALO project, and her son Prince Harry is literally following in her footsteps.

Healing Fields

The current procedure involves clearing away vegetation within one square yard at a time, using a metal detector to locate mines, and blowing them up in a controlled way. Then they move the stick another yard and start again. It is like vacuuming or mowing the lawn but VERY slowly. One person can search 50 to 100 yards per day. It is very tedious work.

After a large area has been cleared it is marked as such so that they can build a school or have a safe place to play

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant. I ordered the Khmer dinner and Rob got the western dinner. We were the only ones in the restaurant, and they watched our every move from ten feet away.

I had told Rob earlier in the day how I missed hot homemade rolls and that is what they brought us. What a treat! I ate them along with my coconut water straight from a coconut.

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