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I found the ruins of the Khmer dynasty around Angkor to be beautiful and exotic. They are worth a visit for anyone interested in oriental and Indian art and architecture - even with all the ravages of time, war, and treasure hunters. However, aside from the 600 years of Khmer rule, Cambodia seems to be a country without a defining Cambodian culture. The last 30 years may have been the most brutal - and their impact is still fully evident - but they are only representative of the majority of Cambodian history. If it wasn't the Chinese, it was the Siamese, Cham, or Vietnamese overrunning the country. When I was there in 1995 the scars of the Vietnam war and subsequent Pol Pot regime were still clear. Phnom Penh was still a ghost town. The more remote areas around Angkor Wat were not safe to travel - land mines and occasional Khmer rebels were still a risk. But in general, I felt as safe in the areas I traveled as I have in Chicago or Rome. I was very moved one day when Lorm, our local guide, decided to relate his personal experiences in the Killing Fields. Maybe one day I will write it down and add it to this site - but for now, I will say that it only served to make real the story the movie only began to tell. I have spoken with survivors of the Holocaust as well. People attempt to compare the two situations as if there is a purpose in declaring one more horrific than the other. There is no point - each in it's own way is unthinkable.

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