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soloflightEd

Walking past the pathways in the temples and night markets in Siem Reap, I couldn’t help but notice traditional music being played in the background. Upon further walking, I was greeted by a sight of individuals playing musical instruments. Sitting in one corner while waiting for my companions to arrive, I listened attentively while taking a break from all the trekking. I didn’t observe it at first but only when I read a signboard did I realize that these people playing stringed and percussion instruments were all disabled. The label said that they were land mine victims in Cambodia.

“You mean to say that there could be bombs underground from where we are standing?” I asked my friend who’s been in Cambodia twice. She lifted her eyebrows to answer my question which made me terrified at the thought that an explosive device could be lurking anywhere from where we were. It even came to a point where I wondered why we visited Siem Reap in the first place.

landmine victims cambodia
Walking past the temples, this sight greeted me.

To this day it is estimated that there may still be up to six million land mines scattered around the Cambodian countryside which cause around 35 deaths a month. Already 40,000 people have lost limbs due to land mines giving Cambodia the unenviable record of having the most amputees per capita (about one in every 275 people have lost a limb). Land Mine Victims in Cambodia – Wikipedia

After further research, I found out that the number of casualties have dropped every year which is a good sign. Still, one must be careful not to trek those off-the-beaten paths and one should consult the locals if it’s safe to go for a walk in remote areas.

khmer victims
I sat and took a break while admiring their music.

These Khmer land mine victims make me ask myself about our own culture on where our own musical instruments have gone off. We are also a rich nation full of culture and life, divided by water but composed of diverse groups; each having our own specialty and way of living. Maybe I’m just not accustomed to hearing folk music nowadays.

Amputated arms, deformed faces, permanent blindness – does it matter how much they receive from donations when one is disabled for life?

vietnam war landmine victims
I later realized that they were land mine victims.

The suffering that they have to endure because of unfortunate events is tragic. Bearing with the aftermath of a war that spawned for decades.

Under tall trees that serve as their natural shade, these Khmer land mine victims play instruments continuously — hoping that tourists will get their CDs in exchange for cash to help them get by with life. I decided to donate whatever change I had left in my pocket. A smile greeted me from one of the victims, expressing his gratitude over that simple token.

I left that pathway feeling good to have given something but restless wondering how much longer it will take for them to have this problem resolved.

Here’s a couple of comprehensive guides about Siem Reap:

Check out my other adventures here:


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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
For updates, Like his page on Facebook or Follow him on Twitter.
For questions, advertising, and other concerns, shoot an email to ed@soloflighted.com.


14 comments… add one
  • This one reminded me of the Handicapped Factory we visited in Ho Chi Minh, many workers there were also victims of land mines.

  • because of wars decades ago, millions of civilians suffer then, and until now.

  • the horrors of war and other conflicts always leaves a mark that takes a long time to erase πŸ™   
     
     
    Nice informative post…

  • horrors of war na sana wag na maulit… pero sympre nauulit pa rin… through travelling sana we can help foster camaraderie and understanding, respect of each others culture…
    through travel sana we can help eradicate racism and other forms of discrimination…
    through travel sana we can help increase awareness sa mga social issues…
    im proud of you guys that are continuing to travel to experience different cultures…
    lets work hand in hand in promoting "travelling" to our fellow Pinoys…

  • Wow, I actually had to re-read the number of people killed per month cause I was sure I misread it. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Edcel

    @lakwatsera de primera: these people inspire you to work harder knowing that they've suffered more out of their disabilities and yet they continue to pursue life. hope everyone will be able to take this into a positive light that all is not lost.

    @fetus: until now. so sad that we're suffering form other people's wraths.

    @marky: we just hope that these will serve as a reminder for us on what we'll experience if war were to happen again. i think it's enough that we have documents about the hardships, we don't need to let the suffering continue up to now.

    @flip: Cambodia made me reflect that traveling is not only about the joy of going to a certain place and experience happy moments. I hope to share what I've experienced – in all its shame and glory – through traveling. we need more awareness shared to other people who are innocent about what's happening around — including me.

    @miranda: was also surprised at the number of people suffering and the lives that were lost too.

  • Bombs waiting to explode…and  million more?…scary thought. But that's the reality and Cambodia. Ohno.
    This is a very informative entry, Ed.

  • AJ

    I also saw these musicians on the dirt road to Ta Prohm. But there lies the beauty of Cambodia. It's a place of wonderfully rich historical heritage and it's also the site of one of the most chilling atrocities in modern history. Cambodia has traversed the arc of human achievement and degradation – from glory to gore. Truly, what Cambodia is now is a product of what it had gone through, both good and bad.
    This post is short and sweet, Ed. πŸ™‚

    • Edcel

      @Rizalenio: yes, it was a scary thought, Luis. Was so ignorant at first. That’s why it’s important to practice caution.

      @AJ: They’re all over the place. I feel bad knowing that we could also be in there shoes. It makes us appreciate how lucky we are and it made me reflect that traveling is not only about always having fun. You get to learn more about other countries which makes you realize that there are more important things in life that we sometimes neglect. Thanks AJ! πŸ˜€

  • Shuuucks πŸ™ ang sad naman but I'm glad that they have found a community to strengthen each other.

  • This is really sad. For all the technological advances we've made, it goes to show that people will still be people. There will always be wars to be fought, and the civilians are the ones left to pay the price.

  • Edcel

    @Smarla: Yeah, at least something's being done about it. 

    @Cedric: Didn't really notice this until I was able to visit Cambodia. Now I'm more affected with getting updates about humanity. Parang gusto kong pumunta dun para mag total immersion. 

  • awts–daming victims ng landmine sa Cambodia. taht's for sure. If  I am not mistaken it is the most mined country in the world. an act of kindness Ed that will surely be reciprocated.cheers

    • Edcel

      @pusang-kalye: it’s good to know these things πŸ˜€

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