mercredi 30 avril 2008


I have read in my Lonely Planet that Cambodia has a very young population and that three-quarters of Cambodians are too young to remember the Khmer Rouge years.

Just a fact, apparently. But visit this country, and get stunned by the sight everybody looking so young: tuk-tuk drivers, bartenders, staff in hotels, soldiers, farmers, shopkeepers... and no Khmer is older than 29 in the school where I am working as a volunteer.

Twenty-nine... You have figured it out by yourself. This is exactly the number of years passed since the end of the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, in 1979. A genocide from which just a few survived, on the good as on the bad side. And today children of the oppressed share the country with the children of the oppressor and there is a strong will to forget.

Nobody talk of it then. The current government itself does not require that educators teach children about Khmer Rouge atrocities in the schools.

But I couldn't not to notice it and fell a profound sadness for this people.

No religious rituals.
No religious symbols.
No fortune tellers.
No traditional healers.
No paying respect to the elders.
No social status. No titles.

No education. No training.
No school. No learning.
No books. No library.
No science. No technology.
No pens. No paper.

No currency. No bartering.
No buying. No selling.
No begging. No giving.
No purses. No wallets.

No human rights. No liberty.
No courts. No judges.
No laws. No attorneys.

No communications.
No public transportation.
No private transportation.
No travelling. No mailing.
No inviting. No visiting.
No faxes. No telephones.

No social gatherings.
No chitchatting.
No jokes. No laughter.
No music. No dancing.

No romance. No flirting.
No fornication. No dating.
No wet dreaming.
No masturbating.
No naked sleepers.
No bathers.
No nakedness in showers.
No love songs. No love letters.
No affection.

No marrying. No divorcing.
No martial conflicts. No fighting.
No profanity. No cursing.

No shoes. No sandals.
No toothbrushes. No razors.
No combs. No mirrors.
No lotion. No make up.
No long hair. No braids.
No jewelry.
No soap. No detergent. No shampoo.
No knitting. No embroidering.
No colored clothes, except black.
No styles. No palm sap hooch.
No lighters. No cigarettes.
No morning coffee. No afternoon tea.
No snacks. No desserts.
No breakfast [sometimes no dinner]

No mercy. No forgiveness.
No regret. No remorse.
No second chances. No excuses.
No complaints. No grievances.
No help. No favors.
No eyeglasses. No dental treatment.
No vaccines. No medicines.
No hospitals. No doctors.
No disabilities. No social diseases.
No tuberculosis. No leprosy.

No kites. No marbles. No rubber bands.
No cookies. No popsicle. No candy.
No playing. No toys.
No lullabies.
No rest. No vacation.
No holidays. No weekends.
No games. No sport.
No staying up late.
No newspapers.

No radio. No TV.
No drawing. No painting.
No pets. No pictures.
No electricity. No lamp oil.
No clocks. No watches.

No hope. No life.
A third of the people didn't survive.
The regime died.

Poem by Sarith Pou.

Mission to Mars

The CIST has organised today a early visit to the huge rubbish tip (Stung Meachey) of Phnom Penh. A place where people live, work and suffer for less than half a dollar a day, scratching bare hands into mountains of wastes and selling raw materials to be recycled. A place where, like on a distant planet, the air is almost unbreathable.

And, incredibly, even in this hell, behind the skinny features of the people, we could find kindness and smiles.

France, and Europe, were today thousands of miles away.

mardi 29 avril 2008

Killing Fields

The sadest day of my trip. A visit to Killing Fields first. Then to the prison where the Kampuchean Party, know as the Khmer Rouge, tortured and killed the opponents to the Angkar Padevat.

No comments on this. Words are not useful. Cambodia will definitively need a long time to forget this horrible part of its past.

The commemorating Stupa as seen from the graves...

Clothes can still be found just where the prisoners where executed, undressed and then buried...

First days in Phnom Penh

I have finally come to Phnom Penh. The capital of Cambodia. A weekend as a tourist first, spending my time between the lively Riverside and the romantic Lakeside. And then my mission to the CIST has begun, in a wonderful atmosphere of collaboration between the volunteers, the young Khmer students and the staff.

The cosy Lakeside

Getting to know the students!

Boys and girls playing under the rain (sorry, out of focus, but not an easy picture to take under a storm in the middle of the night... it was a wonderful moment for me anyway.... Thank you to Dave and Owens, my American friends, for paying the bill at the restaurant, at the hotel, and, needless to say, for the friendship you gave me!!!)

jeudi 24 avril 2008

Best friends

Hi guys, this a special post to thank sweet Megumi, serious Takehiro and volcano Dave for being my best travel companions during these hot days in Siem Rap. I hope you will come and read my blog as often as you can. Megumi, Takehiro, I miss you already...

Dave on the back of a bike following us in Siem Rap.

Lovely Megumi

Italo-Japanese dream team!

Divine inspiration!

What do you need to know here? This is simply the largest religious building of the world and it blew my socks off!
Just come and see by yourself and be ready for divine inspiration!

Quote: "One of these temples - a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo - might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged."

Biking in the Cambodian countryside

Despite the extremely hot weather, these days I have been biking a lot in the countryside of western Cambodia. This is a pretty much agricultural region, where, apart the majestic Angkor temples, everything is still stuck in time at the end of the Pol Pot reign of terror... from which, sadly to say, most Cambodians have not yet been able to recover.

What`s better than a bike to explore?

Taking bikes on a ride...

Nature-compliant scaffodils!

Running to welcome the foreigner!

Lovely tyre-players.

Khmer pride.

The countryside.

Cambodian People`s Party headquarters.

The missing link ?

Endless roads.

Heritage of French colonialism...

...or as, even in Cambodia, you can enjoy a baguette with French cheese !!!

mardi 22 avril 2008

Angkor Temples

lundi 21 avril 2008

I wasn`t ready...

After visiting Bangkok, I thought every place in Southeast Asia should be more or less just like a hot version of home. This is just not the case... Cross the border to Cambodia and find a bus or taxi along the Brocken Backside Boulevard to Siem Rap, and it will be like stepping inside a time-machine to a lost world: the one of the long-gone Khmers...

At the border with Cambodia!

Making friends with the blue people at the Poipet border control.

Leaving Thailand - The bus station

Early wake to get the bus from Mo Chit Station to Aranya Prathet, and then all the way to Siem Rap. Probably the most miserable road in South East Asia... but, definitevely, many nice people to meet!

dimanche 20 avril 2008

Relaxing in Wat Pho

The main activity of the day was a peaceful stroll inside the amazing Wat Pho temples, in Ko Ratanakosin. The temples inside the complex are truly worth a visit and the giant reclining Buddha is an impressive sight. Of course, I also went to the Wat Pho Traditional Thai Massage School and I had my body pleasantly stretched for more than a hour... Wonderful Bangkok!

samedi 19 avril 2008

Wat Arun - The Temple of Dawn

The striking temple of Aruna, on the Thonburi side of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya.

Walking through temples in Bangkok

Relaxing on the roof top

After my first (very long) Thai traditional massage, I spent most of the afternoon cooling down in the swimming pool on the roof top. Sightseeing can wait!

Reflections... after the tropical storm

Chao Phraya River - Bangkok

First restaurant... and first meal!

Bangkok, at last. And after a very long trip, today I craved spicy rice for breakfast as a veteran...

jeudi 17 avril 2008

The itinerary

After careful consideration, I have decided to visit Thailand, Cambodia and Laos during my sojourn. My trip will start in Bangkok, from where I will head eastward to Angkor and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. I will then move north towards Laos and eventually end my trip in Luang Prabang.

Of course, this is just a general and (I am proud of it) vague plan... The Mekong river will be the only leading thread of this travel, but I will adapt it to my wish day by day, trying to stay away from problems and to immerse myself in the local fascinating culture as much as possible.

The major event and actual goal of the visit will of course be my stay in Phnom Penh, where I will collaborate with the CIST by helping and supporting Cambodian students for two weeks. All this will give me a chance to really understand the compelling Cambodian culture and everyday life.

Time to go now!

mercredi 16 avril 2008



Carlo's going to leave soon..

My name is Carlo and I am about to leave for Southeast Asia, where I will collaborate to the STERIA Digital Bridges project. The aim of this activity is to share my working experience with the Centre for Information Systems Training in Phnom Penh and to help staff and students to improve the school technical architecture. At the same time I'll be visiting surrounding countries and I'll have a great opportunity to to understand this millenary and extremely rich culture.

I'll be leaving on April 18th, first visiting Bangkok, and then Cambodia and Laos. I will stay two weeks in Phnom Penh to collaborate with the CIST. The rest of the time I'll wander around Southeast Asia as a backpacker.

Background information:
The CIST – Centre for Information Systems Training – was launched in 2005 in Phnom Penh to provide disadvantaged students with IT training and qualifications leading to a job. In 2009 it will reach its full capacity and bring 200 people out poverty each year to become actors of the economic development of Cambodia within the IT sectors.
A specific NGO, Passerelles Numériques (“Digital Bridges”), was created in 2006 to leverage this expertise in new projects. This NGO has the legal purpose to reduce the digital divide, especially by offering access to education and to opportunities for employment through personal and professional development programs to the most underprivileged populations.
STERIA is collaborating to this process. To know more, feel free to visit the STERIA Foundation web site.