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Angkor Wat - photo Bob Loveland


Angkor Wat courtyard - NR photo

A professor from India gave us information about the Angkor Temples - NR photo

A Bayon Temple - photo Bob Loveland



Travel Tips The Adventures of Roman Wanderaugh in Cambodia & Thailand - October 2008

Roman Wanderaugh - National Radio Text Service


If you care to see what Cambodia is about this is the week to take a look on TV as the Amazing Race USA edition made a trip to Siem Reap and Agkor Wat. What makes the show so special are the reactions of some of the contestants and the remarks they said about the country at first glance minus politics


Tuesday October 28, 2008


If you care to see what Cambodia is about this is the week to take a look on TV as the Amazing Race USA edition made a trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. What makes the show so special are the reactions of some of the contestants and the remarks they said about the country at first glance minus politics.

The show also revealed some sites that I wasn't aware of and will make it a point to visit. On a task by boat is the Tonle Sap Lake the girl team of Kelly and Christy observed the people who live in a floating village. The villagers waving and smiling were abundant which prompted them to say, "It broke my hart to see the abject poverty these people are living in but they get on with it."

Ty another contestant was in last place and in a hurry to reach the next task. Haste or not he blurted out, "Man this place is beautiful."

I've traveled the road to catch a boat to Phnom Penh where Ty made the remark. It is beautiful and raw. The raw is what makes it so beautiful.

Though they are trying to change their image by building golf courses with the Thai's help, influence and money that is not what the real Cambodia is about. It is about the scenes on the Amazing Race.

After the tasks on the lake the contestants headed off to the famous Angkor Wat to find a clue. What they all found out that other than being beautiful the grounds of Angkor are huge with many steps which are quite narrow. I wear a size 13 and had to walk up the steps with my foot sideways.

Nick who is teamed with his sister Starr remarked about Angkor Wat, "It was daunting, it is huge. It seems like a world wonder." And that it is.

As the show ended the pit stop was at the Bayon Temple. It was there that Ty and his girlfriend Aja were eliminated for being the last team to arrive. If there's some good news in their elimination it was they were eliminated in a place they truly enjoyed. Though we're not familiar with the shows rules if they could stay longer before returning home this was the place to relax and take in what we consider on of the wonders of the world.

It is recommended that one takes at least three days to see the temples at a decent pace. There are some who take four days. It is always suggested to take in the sun rise and the sunset as it is always an appreciated site.

It is advisable to have a guide who speaks GOOD ENGLISH who knows the history of the Temples to explain the history. Without knowing the history leaves a major gap in the appreciation of Angkor Wat and what it really is all about.

On our trip their in 1999, we had a guide who couldn't speak English well and knew very little of the history. At that time the Temples were not visited by many tourists and there was very little training of staff. After paying the guide a fee we accidentally ran into a person of Indian heritage who was a professor at Bowie State University in the USA. He knew the stories and explained them in great detail. Unfortunately he was doing some research and after that lesson at the Temple where we were we were on our way to return another day more prepared.

Next week the Amazing Race will be leaving from the Bayon Temple for the next leg of the race. It will be worth ones viewing time to see if they remain in Cambodia though it is doubtful.

There were some lessons to be learned on the show with one being one team asked a taxi driver to take them to a specific area to do a task. The driver said he knew where it was and took them to a hotel instead. This is a problem for anyone entering the country on their own. Many of the drivers receive a commission for taking a customer to a hotel. Also some say they understand English but in reality they don't. They may speak a few words but lack English language comprehension.

The Amazing Race ASIA has visited Thailand during season 2 and also this season 3. What a couple of teams experienced were drivers leaving them behind after they requested them to stay, refusing to drive some contestants and saying they know where something is only to take them elsewhere.

This episode of the Amazing Race USA can be seen in Southeast Asia Saturday and Sunday at the following times in the Thailand/Cambodia time zone. Please see the schedule chart on our Video Beat column for the air times in the region or check your local listings. A new episode is telecast Monday night.


9:00 AM - AMAZING RACE USA - AXN - repeat

7:00 PM - AMAZING RACE USA - AXN - repeat

2:00 AM - AMAZING RACE USA - AXN - repeat


2:00 AM - AMAZING RACE USA - AXN - repeat



11:00 PM - AMAZING RACE USA - AXN - repeat


In Thailand beware of taxi, samlor and tuk tuk drivers taking you to jewelers and tailor shops. Some receive 20% commission on sales or 100 baht to walk you into the shop.


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Dr. Beat Richner built hospitals to give Cambodian children FREE MEDICAL care ranks # 1 on the NR Top 10 stories ... (Kantha Bopha Hospital photo)

Patients live in extreme poverty - Kantha Bopha photo



When visiting the Angkor Wat Temples a visit to a Dr Beat Richner concert is time well spent. Dr. Beat Richner is most notably known for two things... building children's hospitals in Cambodia and playing the cello. Dr. Beat performs in Siem Reap in the auditorium of Jayvarman Hospital Saturday nights at 7:15pm.

There has been a television special on Dr Beat and his hospital work to save the lives of children being televised on the Australia Network titled Beat and the Passive Genocide of Children. Some of the highlights of the program noted Beat as saying, "I'm a prisoner by my conscious to take care of the hospital and these people."

At the time of our interview six years ago the hospitals budget was US $12 million a year. It is now up to US$20 million. One of the major differences is due to Kantha Bopha 1 being overcrowded another hospital has been built Kantha Bopha IV which is situated next to Kantha Bopha 1 in Phnom Penh. The funding came from his native land Switzerland where each Swiss person donated 20 francs towards the US $15 million construction of the facility. A 5th hospital is currently being constructed also in Phnom Penh.

On the TV program Beat points out that Kantha Bopha IV is a model project for any third world country. "It's a pilot project for the future," he said. On the program Beat said that his three hospitals including the splendid facility in Siem Reap Jayvarman VII treat 80% of Cambodian children. "Without funding 60 thousand Cambodian children will die each year," he noted.

Providing free health care for the needy has its critics. Princess Ann who is involved with the Save The Children Foundation said the modern Kantha Bopha facilities are too expensive for Cambodians. Beat pointed out that UNICEF and the WHO (World Health Organization) spend 85% of their funding on their salaries. He also noted that critiques of his hospitals will come to Siem Reap and stay next door at the Sofitel Hotel and spend $340 a night for a room and complain about Richner treating ill Cambodia children at a cost of $170 per child.

The film shows a young child who was misdiagnosed and the father paid $400 for medicine for the wrong reasons and the child continued to be ill. After the boy was taken to Kantha Bopha the he was found to have TB the major killer in Cambodia. The child was treated for free and will live. Richner mentioned that the disease in general came from Westerners during wars.

Kantha Bopha gives the patients free drugs and pays for their traveling expenses to and from the hospital. Doling out money is not scrutinized carefully as Richner said the WHO gave the Cambodian government US $ 1 million to fight dengue fever while adding that the water needs to be cleaned up. He said nothing was done about it and the money just DISAPPEARED.

The film shows celebrities supporting WHO including rock star Bono, Microsoft's Bill Gates and former England Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Kantha Bopha spends on 5% for administrative costs and 30% for salaries. Though not noted in the film when he opened the hospital he could find only two qualified doctors and has trained the rest. Noted in the film is that he pays them a good salary by Cambodian standards to avoid corruption which he claims that Kantha Bopha continues to be corruption free.

Richner has been libeled by the two largest English language newspapers in Cambodia by making charges without questioning him directly regarding their issues. In spite of it all Beat continues to fight the good fight for the sake of saving children's lives.

"He gave his life for this," said a tourist from Chicago, Illinois USA at a Beat cello concert in Siem Reap. The concert is designed for Beat to tell his message about the medical plight of Cambodian children and to raise money. During his performance he talks about the health crisis in Cambodia. He also asks the young tourists for blood, the older tourists for money, and the those in between for both.

The Kantha Bopha hospitals treat 1 million children a year free of charge. Approximately 100,000 seriously ill children are admitted. Japanese encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever and typhoid are common, often exacerbated by the presence of TB the number one killer.

Mortality rate is an astonishingly low 1%. Kantha Bopha has 1900 staff of which only Richner and the head pathologist Dr Denis Laurent are foreigners. Hundreds of medical students have graduated from the Jayavarman VII in Siem Reap. Richner claims that over 80% of all pediatric health care in Cambodia is provided by his hospitals. The hospitals are primarily funded by donations from individuals in Switzerland, where Richner is somewhat of an icon. Operational expense in 2006 was in the order of $17 million USD.

The medical field wasn't on Beats mind when he was young. He studied to be a musician and played with symphonies. He later came to Cambodia and started Kantha Bopha in 1994-95 and remained until the Khmer Rouge took over. King Sihanouk asked him to return in 1991 and the Beat goes on in saving children's lives.

The Passive Genocide of Children" took three years to make according to the films field consultant Geraldine Cox who assisted Australian film maker Janine Hosking. A trailer of the film is viewable at http://www.drbeat.com.au.

http://www.beat-richner.ch -- Dr Beat's Official website


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