My Memory from Danrun Village

A photo taken on August 9, 2012. Unfortunately, I do not have photo from my time here 33 years ago

On 9 August, 2012; I was traveling with my colleague to work at Damdek commune, Sotr Nikum district, Siem Reap province. It is located about 30 Km in the east of the provincial town. This commune has a particular place in my memory. 33 years ago, from March 1979 to March 1980, I used to live here, with my other nine relatives (aunt, cousins, nephew etc). Our big family was once 21 persons, when we were sent from our home village in Takeo to Battambang. We used to live in Muk Chneang village, Spean Sreng commune, Phnom Srok district, now Banteay Mean Chey province. It is bordering to Siem Reap province. 11 members of our family, including my grandma, uncles, aunts and cousins did not survive the hardship of the Khmer Rouge regime.

I was 17 years old in 1979. After the collapse of the regime we traveled from our living area to Kralanh district, Siem Reap province and lived in the provincial town for nearly 3 months. Like everybody else at that time, we spent three months waiting for boarding trucks to return to Phnom Penh or our home province. We were waiting in vain. Before rainy season started, the local authority of the new regime, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) requested us to leave the town to rural area for rice cultivation.  We traveled few days and ended up exhausted, therefore settled down in Danrun village, about 4 km from the national road # 6, connecting Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Map of Cambodia with the province Siem Reap hi...

Map of Cambodia with the province Siem Reap highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was separated from my parents and my siblings from 1975 to March 1980. I lived there with my aunt and her two children. She was also separated from her husband during the time too. We were selling Cambodian noodles at Damdek market and the villages around. Some time we sold dried fish and we were all included as farmers in the solidarity group set up by the new regime. It is a collective group similar to the Khmer Rouge’s cooperative, but we had more freedom and could make a living on our own, not working collectively and eating collectively like in the past. In Cambodia that time, we did not have national currency to use. People exchange goods against gold or (paddy or milled) rice.  I actually lost hope to continue study, after 5 years without school (1975-1980).

When I revisited the same village, I used to live 33 years ago, I hardly recognize it. Many things have been changed; the landscape, the people, the location of our hut (disappeared) and the small forest behind the village (gone). This village is close to the Tonle Sap Lake. It was once very rich of fish. Now, people told us that it is hard to catch fish to make a living. I tried to recall my memory, how was it then? It seems that time went fast. 33 years ago, I lived here as a young and poor farmer. Now, I live happily with my family in Phnom Penh and have three children. I thought, what would happened if we did not make the decision to go to Phnom Penh in March 1980? We made a risky decision to go to Phnom Penh that time, even though we did not have any financial means except our strong determination. It is one of the powerful lessons in my life: If you have a goal, you would reach it definitely. Danrun, I am very happy and exited to see you again!

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