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.
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.
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?
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:
- Tips and Things to Know about Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Digital Nomad Life: One Month in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Check out my other adventures here:
- Quick Update from Bousavy Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Siem Reap and Bangkok Chronicles
- Getting There: Cebu to Manila to Clark to Bangkok to Aranyaprathet to Siem Reap
- No Ordinary Train Ride From Bangkok to Aranyaprathet
- Bangkok to Siem Reap: Avoid Scammers from Aranyaprathet to Poipet Border
- Where to Stay: Bousavy Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Where to Stay: Victory Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Cambodia Trip: Angkor Thom Gate, Bayon Temple and Elephant Terrace
- Cambodia Trip: Trees in Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Walking Barefoot at Angkor Wat Temple
- Cambodia Trip: Pre Rup, Banteay Srei and East Mebon Temples
- Cambodia Trip: Haggling Prices in Angkor Night Market
- Cambodia Trip: Those Khmer Kids Selling Merchandise
- Cambodia Trip: Chill Out and Relax at Pub Street in Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Insightful Conversations Over a Fish Massage
- Cambodia Trip: Land Mine Victims
- Cambodia Trip: A Guide to Eating Cheap Khmer Food in Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Engrish and Random Sights in Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Shuttle Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok, Thailand
- Total Budget Expense in Siem Reap, Cambodia
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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.
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