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from Beth in Cambodia
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   General Discussion -> The Gathering Place (TGP)Message format
 
Orinda
Posted 2003-01-31 1:39 PM (#1058)
Subject: from Beth in Cambodia


hello everyone,

thought to share with you a first hand perspective of what's going on in Cambodia right now ... our daughter Beth, (Ian's youngest of 3) has been teaching there for the past 3 years ... just this week she was offered and accepted a contract with Taipei American school for next year ... and wrote;
But now all's well!  I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself! It's
one of the top international schools in the world and largest (2100
students!) with amazing facilities, salary, and package. Plus the climate is
sub-tropical which I surely need after 3 years of sitting practically on top
of the equator with no discernable breeze.

No regrets about living here of course, it's just time for a change.

but that's not what is on her mind this last few days ... she's keeping in touch as best she can ... (e-mail having been disabled for the first two days due to disruptions in the country)... here is what she shared by e-mail today for us ... and any part of it that might be of interest to the cbc reporter who asked for her input to share publically.

Jan.30, 2003
So it seems all hell has broken loose in Phnom Penh, and over what? National
pride? It's amazing how much mayhem people can create. Just takes one or two
people to get the ball  rolling, and eager followers emerge out of the
woodwork, only too happy to run with it. People can get up in arms so
zealously (literally in this case) that you can't help but think they enjoy
it.
I'm guessing you've seen the CNN report by now so I won't go into too much
detail.  Essentially, a Thai movie star made a comment (in character on a
sitcom) that the temples of Angkor Wat were stolen from Thailand by
Cambodia.  After brewing for 3 weeks (spurred on by tv and radio attention
and Hun Sen, tension finally came to a head last night. (this is on top of
an already existing low level tension between the countries...Thai airways
painted pictures of the temple on some of their planes last year). The Thai
embassy was burned (still seems to be burning actually as I can still see
the black smoke plume from my balcony). Many Thai owned businesses (2
upscale hotels, a cement and an ice cream factory!,) were set afire and
defaced by aka 47 gunfire. 500 Thais were evacuated throughout the night
(many of our students and our school financial director included).  It was
reported that the Cambodians came in the front door and the Thai's went out
the back. The embassador had to scale a fence which happened to have a river
on the other side. He was then transported away from the scene by speedboat.
School was declared closed at 6:30am today, then reopened by 9 and closed
down again by noon as more gunfire and demonstrations were reported.
This event is all the more devastating as Cambodia has made so much progress
recently in terms of the economy, safety and international relations.
Without a friend in Thailand, further progress will definitely be stifled.
The frequent sounds of gunfire I can presently hear from my apartment seem
truly surreal. Last night I took no notice as it was the eve of eve of
Chinese New Year, and I assumed it was just firecrackers so slept well with
happy thoughts about the celebratory weekend ahead.  To be in the middle of
something like this and watch it being reported on CNN from your sofa,
brings indescribable perspective and uneasiness. When you watch a news story
about civil unrest in a place where you are not, it just doesn't really hit
you, that normal everyday people are living in fear. You think, that's
unfortunate, but then your thoughts go back to normal stuff, like what's for
dinner or gee, what's on TV tonight or what ever...but, when you are sitting
in your home, aware that mobs are gathering 5 blocks away, the questions in
your mind are: What will happen next? Where's my passport? How much bottled
water do I have? Should I be packing a suitcase? Then you pick up a book and
forget about it until you hear more gunshots and your mind starts racing all
over again.
With that said, know that I do not think there's anything to worry about as
long as I stay in for a few days...I have lots of food, adequate water,
Internet access (just installed last week!), tequila!
The good cable stations are off air as we get them from Thailand but CNN and
BBC persevere, not to mention the Cartoon network! and the cell phone
service is down but my new landline seems to work. Here's the number just in
case you wish to reach me ...

Cell phone Ok, now onto what's for dinner!
Take care,
Beth

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