About Cambodia Tales

By John Einar Sandvand

Children in Psar Phrum

Children in Psar Phrum

Cambodia is a country of smiles and colors. Monks in their red robes. Farmers laughing as they work their fields. Young couples flirting along the mighty Mekong river.

But it is also a country of a terrible historic and political trauma. The loss of fathers and mothers. Impunity. Deep wounds causing depressions and anger, waiting to explode.

The two faces of Cambodia fascinates me. So many times I have wondered how it can be that South East Asia’s friendliest people is to be found in the country which experienced the most brutal regime in modern history.

Experts estimate that between 1,5 and 2 million people died in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge years (1975 – 1979). Practically every family lost one or more of their loved ones.

Today more than half of the population in the poor country are born after the Khmer Rouge nightmare. Yet they cannot escape history. The trauma makes their life a struggle – mentally, economically and morally.

This blog will present glimpses of life in today’s Cambodia, recorded on different trips to the country. It is part of a bigger project, which hopefully in 2010 will result in a documentary book about the country.

The book will be written for a Norwegian audience, while the blog will be maintained in English.

Doing research for the book I will make several trips to Cambodia during 2009. My first trip was from February 8th until March 1st. It is my hope that readers will respond to this blog and make suggestions for interesting interviews and reports during my visits.

A few words about myself

On the river by Kampot

I have worked in various positions at the Norwegian media company Aftenposten since 1993, including periods as Asia correspondent, assistant managing editor, news reporter and assignment editor. Currently I am managing Aftenposten’s travel web site.

I have always had a heart for Asia and have visited the region annually for the last 12 years. I published another book on Asia in 2005, called “Moving mountains. A personal travel to Asia” (In Norwegian only, I am afraid). On my spare time I run the web site Asia Observer, a portal to Asia with news, guide and community, as well as the online media blog BetaTales.

You can connect with me on Twitter or by mail: john.einar (at) sandvand.net

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