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Sunday, January 31, 2010

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA*



Our local tour guide provided an interesting perspective comparing the three countries of this region. He said that the French, when they colonized Indochine, felt that:

1. The Vietnamese were hard workers.

2. Cambodians were hard watchers.

3. Laotians were hard sleepers.

Well, anyway, I'm now in Chiang Mai (Thailand) and left the land of 300 temples and 2 million land mines: Cambodia. However, just for completeness, I have a final top ten to share:

1. The most aid to Cambodia comes from Japan, with the USA at #2, but the greatest number of tourists comes from South Korea, with Japan as #2, CHINA #3 and the USA #4.

2. Why the Cambodians think so relatively highly of Americans is mystifying, as our B52s rained so much hell on this country to eliminate the Viet Cong that there were about a million civilian Cambodian deaths. Compare this with 58,000 American military casualties.

3. About those Wats (Khmer for temples), both the Khmer Rouge and Viet Cong holed out in all those 300 temples, for they were never bombed, thanks, apparently, to a plea from Jackie Kennedy, who spent three days in 1963 touring the same Angkor Wat and adjacent sites I visited.

4. Buildings in Siem Reap cannot be higher than 65 meters, the height of the tallest Angkor Wat temple.

5. They've done a smart thing about their temples. Countries have volunteered to restore specific sites. For example, Germany is responsible for Angkor Wat and India for Ta Prohm. Regarding her tree at this location, Angelina Jolie was made an honorary citizen of Cambodia in 2005 for her environmental and charitable work.

6. Best as I can tell, gasoline costs about $3.50/gallon and electricity 5 cents/kWh in Viet Nam and Cambodia.

7. While the genocidal ethnic cleansing Chinese policies have been adjusted to now generally tolerating the existence of the existing local population, there remains an attempt to promote emigration of Chinese Han into certain regions, such as Tibet. Thus, over the next few centuries (decades?), much of the region around China will naturally evolve into provinces of China. Pol Pot, incidentally, died a natural death in 1998 at the age of 74.

8. The Khmer Rouge (totalitarian communist ruling party of Cambodia), and mortal enemies of the masses, in 1998, apologized for their genocidal campaign, surrendered, and went on to become much of the national military for Cambodia, in a transition similar to Viet Nam.

9. What happened to the Viet Cong? Many of them died during that Tet attack earlier reported. The survivors became normal citizens, some even to America.

10. That ignominious American Viet Nam defeat in 1975? Some historians now report that our orchestrated action incurred the favor of China, forcing the Soviet Union to waste their resources in Viet Nam, contributing to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Oh, if you are worried about Peak Oil and Global Warming being responsible for an imminent doomsday, according to an Angkor Wat prophecy, the real doomsday will occur in 12,500 years.


Today was a visit to the Doi Suthep Temple, a must stop for visitors. I took a hundred photos and clips, but I'll only bother you with an outside scene, plus a pure jade Buddha (the dark one). It was about a foot or two tall. I can't remember how big it really was.





Below, I'm about to ride a pink water buffalo:














Well, actually, tomorrow I'll be on an elephant, for an hour. Yes, I'm over my ailment.


Dinner at the Chiang Mai Four Seasons Terrace (an Italian restaurant) with George and Linda Galeener (California and Missouri):


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Welcome country #132:

YEMEN POPULATION: 23,013,376



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Background
North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border.

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About the flag, the French version is a vertical blue, white and red. I'll soon be reporting on Yemen, for this now appears to be a terrorist training hotspot of interest. VISITOR FROM YEMEN: WHO ARE YOU? Tell me something about your country.

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