Do you remember this concert, 4 nights at Hammersmith Odeon
with Paul McCartney leading the way with the Who, Clash and others raising
money for impoverished Cambodia? Seems such a long time ago I watched this
concert at home one late evening, above all it raised awareness among young
people to the plight of poor Cambodia, embellished later in the mid eighties
with the movie 'The Killing Fields' which I managed to see upon it's immediate
release and its very moving ending. I
never thought I would be visiting this little Asian country 4 times in 6 years.
Cambodia, is sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam and
consequently is the most delicious filling in that sandwich. The people are welcoming, able to speak some
english, and often fluently, and courteous to their visitors, which is more
than can be said of it's neighbours, and I still believe the people here are
absolutely lovely and for this reason it is understandable why people return,
or even linger like our Greg.
Since my first visit in 2010, the rate of change cannot go
unnoticed. For example, on my first trip I had to cross a river by pontoon on
my bus to head towards Vietnam, and was the same in 2012, now there is a
splendid suspension bridge, not quite like the Marne Valley in France, but
none-the-less marked progress changing lives. Greg assures me the built the
Aeon shopping mall in one year, a huge investment, catering for shopping, ice
skating, bowling and the like.
However, regardless of this, if you are a foodie, there is
something for your palate, Spanish, French, American, even Costa coffee, but
not seen it's adversary Starbucks. Burger King, but not McDonalds, Dominoes but
not Pizza hut.
So a country changing so much, but despite this, poverty is
still here, among these millionaires, children still beg, schools are over
crowded and have two sittings in a day to accommodate them all, but hospital
wings and new high tech buildings get built and remain empty, there's only one
post office for the city - or so it seems, so money talks as ever even in
After such a soapbox introduction, what's Greg up to? I
spent most of my time at Phnom Penh Sports Club reading and sleeping away the
days whilst Greg went to work, a bit of a novelty, parent sees kid off to work
whilst parent does SFA.
Naturally we played football as promised, first on concrete,
my rickety bones only got two minutes and Greg was in goal, undeterred, we made
a twenty minute journey to another game. Well everything was fine until, until,
my knee decided to crumple on me, same injury for last 10 years I guess, but I
gamely continued until it happened again, thoughts of hanging my boots up did
enter my head. But mum knows I should stop, but she also knows I can't give in.
However, this was not the most worrying issue, Greg's ankle was tender once
again. A day later and he's wearing a protective boot for his ligament injury,
game over or so I thought. No chance, on to the next evening to see his team
which became cup winners and guess what? Game on! Barefooted I played, easy, no
reaction and played quite well until I sat down and had the ball booted into my
face from one metre away, ouch, cue nosebleed and sore nose and head.
Greg and I have not had our customary adventure, but instead
shared our continued healthy father/son relationship and had our heated
debates, more from my concern over his welfare and health given what I and he
had experienced in just three days. But overall he is at ease in these
surroundings and that I am pleased. This I completely understand as I puttered
along in my tuk tuk to the sports club.
Phnom Penh is a delight, limited in scope for museums once
you've seen the Killing Fields stuff, which everyone must do on a visit here,
just as we should never forget our soldiers of the first and second world wars,
but for someone who wishes to live here and work, it is very easy to navigate
life. The food, coffee shops, and bustling markets are entertainment in
themselves, plus we will be off to the casino later like a pair of male Thelma
and Louise's without the car crash.
Football for Kampuchea
The website for the charity Football for Kampuchea (F4K). It contains all the details you want to know about us and even a place to donate!