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Twenty Years Traveling Abroad

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Map of Indo-China

Twenty Years Traveling Abroad

I landed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on a fine day in December 1992 to head a local incorporated bank as the Executive Director.  That has been about 18 years ago.  Now as I reminisces those exciting times I thought perhaps it is good to take up my keyboard and write something about those times when my family was far away and I was living alone in a strange war torn country, where an AK47 Russian-made semi-auto machine gun cost less than US$70 and a full-plugged magazine of 28 rounds cost less than US$5.

So there were some travel tales to narrate, some funny and hilarious stories to share, some harrowing life threatening adventures to brag about, some observations of human behavior, some touching and heart wrenching tales during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia which were told to me by survivors and the tough yet strange experience of living in one of the poorest third world country emerging from the wounds of long years of war.

Prisoners were photographed before they were killed by Khmer Rouge in the Tuol Sleng S-21 Detention Center in Phnom Penh

The United Nations Peacekeeping operations set up the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in February 1992 which was to take over the administration of the independent state of Cambodia, organize and run a fair democratic election and would be responsible for the promotion and the safeguarding of human rights.  A  US$1.5 billion was allocated for the peacekeeping mission.

That started a big gold rush.  Apart from the UN pouring in huge amount of cash into war torn Cambodia, investors and visitors came rushing in from afar trying to find gold in the land strewn full of AP/AT landmines.  The huge contingent of UN peacekeeping troops and its administrative staff, rich investors, poor investors, fortune hunters, carpetbaggers, big timers, NGOs, institutions operating on a G-to-G basis, small businessmen and anybody who could afford an airline ticket flying via Bangkok to Phnom Penh came trooping in.  I was the first batch of bevy eyed employees to be recruited to set up the bank and find some business ventures on behalf of the PLC that I was attached to.

Apart from heading the bank in Cambodia, I was given the tasks of looking for new business ventures in the other two Indo-China countries, namely Laos and Vietnam.

Hence, I would be flying in-country and shuttering around Phnom Penh (Capital of Cambodia), Hanoi (Capital of Vietnam), HoChiMinh City (Saigon is the former name), Hue (central Vietnam where American troops first landed during the Vietnam War), Vientiane (Capital of Laos), Bangkok as well as flying to Hong Kong and Singapore.

All the three countries of Indo-china were emerging from the throes of war and were opening up their countries for the first time.  That was the time when foreign investors came trouping in, trying to gain a foothold for new markets in these poorest of the poor countries, ruined by years of war and years of State-planned and controlled Communism.

These were exciting times ahead.

(More posts to follow on my mini adventures and mis-adventures.)

http://www.asiatravelexperts.com, http://www.vietnamanztravel.com

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I am a Graduate Gemologist trained at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York City, USA. I hold an MBA degree from Cranfield University, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor degree in Mathematics. My earlier profession was a banker until I found jade in Myanmar (Burma) in the early 90s. I have traveled to the fabled Hpakan Jade mines, and Mogok, the world’s famous rubies and sapphires mines in upper Burma, with my second son. Three of my children are also Graduate Gemologist, GIA, NYC and they deal in diamonds, gemstones and jade. 我是在美国纽约市的美国宝石学院(GIA)接受过培训的宝石研究学家。 我拥有英国克兰菲尔德大学的工商管理硕士学位和数学学士学位。我以前的职业是银行家,直到90年代初我在缅甸接触到玉石。我曾经和我的次子一起去过缅甸上流传说中的哈帕翡翠矿山和莫谷矿山, 莫谷矿山是世界上著名的红宝石和蓝宝石矿山。我的三个孩子都是纽约市GIA毕业的宝石研究学家, 他们专门处理钻石,宝石和玉石.