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Monday, 01 August 2016 10:53

The new york times: Cambodia, Home of ‘The Killing Fields,’

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Cambodia is a country of many a bad memory. American B-52s carpet-bombed it during the Vietnam War. It barely survived the rise of a despot named Pol Pot and the genocidal killing fields of his Khmer Rouge regime.

 

Who would have guessed that it would become, of all things, an affordable retirement haven for foreigners, including many Americans who were of draft age when the country was convulsed by those much darker times?

 

Thousands of older people from Australia, Europe and the United States have moved to Cambodia in recent years, or are thinking about it as an option — especially people on fixed incomes who are attracted by the low cost of living. The Cambodian government is encouraging the influx by making it simpler for foreign retirees to apply for visas.

 

“Opportunity often lies in that space between the public’s somewhat negative perception about a place and the much more positive reality on the ground,” said Jennifer Stevens, the executive editor of International Living, a monthly magazine that caters to older people who are thinking of moving to less expensive countries.

The magazine reported that an American retiree could fund “a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle” in Cambodia on nothing more than a $1,000-a-monthSocial Security check. “You just get great value there,” said Eoin Bassett, the magazine’s editorial director.

 

The image change is certainly welcomed in Cambodia, where the unspeakable once happened.

It began with the secret bombing ordered by the Nixon administration code-named Operation Breakfast, which dumped 110,000 tons of explosives on the country in 1969 and 1970. Air Force B-52s made at least 3,500 raidsinside Cambodia, contributing to a legacy of bomb fragments and unexploded bombs that still make parts of the country off limits.

Later came five years of rule by the Khmer Rouge, and one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Pol Pot declared a new society; reset the nation’s calendar at Year Zero; forcibly emptied the capital, Phnom Penh, and other cities; and slaughtered about two million people.

 

But that is ancient history to today’s Cambodians, the vast majority of whom were born well after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed in 1979, routed by a Vietnamese invasion. The median age in the country is about 24.

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