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Meeting a 95 year old monk in Cambodia

95 year old monk at Phnom Sombok
95 year old monk at Phnom Sombok

Meeting a 95 year old monk in Cambodia was not exactly what I was expecting fr Christmas. But, hey Christmas is a time for miracles right?

I was visiting Phnom Sambok Pagoda, which sits atop a lot of freaking stairs. A lot. They also have naughty monkeys.

You can read about Phnom Sam Bok Pagoda here.

Atop of the hill!

Phnom Sombok Kratie
Phnom Sombok Kratie

Once reaching the top of the hill I was not really feeling the love. Climbing Pagodas is hard work. But a sprightly old fella in a robe decided to come up and start chatting. He was very interesting firstly, but secondly had all of his marbles. His age was asked and he happened to be 95 years old. This is impressive in any country, but in Cambodia if you survived the Killing Fields as a monk, you were lucky, very lucky.

We never asked him about those times, it tends not to be the done thing. Even when I met Chum Mey .

And he’d never Cambodia, BUT had lived in 8 countries?

How can this be you ask? Well he would have been born in 1925 in French Indochina. When the Japanese invaded it was under Japanese colonial rule (2). Then came the Kingdom of Cambodia 1954 (3). In 1970 Lon Nol proclaimed the Khmer Republic (4). Next of course came the brutal regime of Democratic Kampuchea again how he survived this is anyones guess. Afterwards came peace and the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea (6), which morphed into the State of Cambodia. Briefly the country was managed by the UN – UNTAC which we will count as 7. Last and by no means least we have then present day Kingdom of Cambodia making 8 countries. Pretty crazy when you think about it.

I truly wish I spoke Khmer and could have bent his ear about his life, but he had monk things to do. Karma I guess….

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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