toa BLOG

Amora Beach
At Panta Phuket
Bangtao Beach
Bundarika Resort
Himmaphan Villas
Laguna Phuket
Thailand Hotels


Small Tales


March 26, 1998

A short first-hand account of the July 1997 coup

On July 5, 1997 Second Prime Minister Hun Sen (Cambodian People’s Party or CPP for short) launched a successful but violent coup seizing sole power for himself and his party from Funcinpec party First Prime Minister Prince Ranariddh. On March 26, 1998 I was taking my one and only trip to one of the shooting ranges out past Pochentong Airport. The area around the airport had been the scene for much of the fighting during that coup. As we passed by an empty field, my motorbike driver, who had been a Funcinpec soldier, told me the following story:

"We were in that field one night, maybe thirty of us, when Hun Sen's soldiers attack us. We were completely surprised and could only run. We have thirty soldiers, only ten of us live. If I die the army give my family $100 and 200 pounds of rice. I am 28 years old, have wife and three young children. And the army, the army not pay me for three months. Next day, I take off uniform and become moto driver. I only make maybe $20 a month, but I have family. Is very difficult but better than soldier. "


March 28, 1998

An hour or so at a roadside eatery

...we stopped at a typical rural roadside eatery, a few pots of food and a few tables and chairs under a roof. Not hungry I ordered some kind of fruit milkshake that was made from an assortment of fresh tropical fruit, milk, a raw egg, and who knows what else. It was delicious. The place was more or less 'staffed' by about a half dozen women, mostly around age twenty. There was one older woman, maybe 35 or 40, and her daughter, who was perhaps nine. I'd guess this place sees a foreigner about once a year. A fifteen-minute lunch break became ninety minutes. The only one who could speak any English was the nine-year-old girl who refused to do so, despite her mother's pleading. At one point, the young girl slammed her fist on the table and shouted something in Khmer that made everyone laugh. Sonny (my Khmer friend) told me that her mother had pointed to us and said "See, he's a Cambodian and speaks English with the American. Now you should practice with the American, too." What the girl shouted was, "No fair, of course he can speak English with the American, he's bigger than me." Sonny then told me the young women were commenting on my foreign nose, admiring it in fact. So I pretended to cut it off and give it to them. They laughed. When we finally decided to leave we were given a pleasant surprise. The nine-year-old girl produced two very nice kramas, one for each of us, and said to me in English with near perfect pronunciation, "Thank you very much for talking with us, see you again. Good bye."




All text and photographs © 1998 - 2008 talesofasia.com. Commercial or editorial usage without written permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.