Today we went to the Royal Palace. My first impression was opulence. Because it was a Sunday the palace grounds were packed with Cambodian visitors. Sundays are devoted to the family - it was fun to watch the interaction between the family members. There were also many Buddhist monks; we were told by our guide that they study very hard throughout the week and have Sunday afternoons free. Some of the monks seemed very young. Rith, our guide, explained that the monks don't always stay as monks but they may return to secular life and become teachers.
Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy and the king still lives in the palace. He is a monk and thus is unmarried. His parents also live in the palace. The king is elected by the royal council so thus is not an inherited position.
I asked Rith (our guide) if the King new what was occuring in his country during the genocide. Rith's answer was that the king was under house arrest and would only be allowed to leave the palace grounds when the Khmer Rouge wanted him to make an official appearance. The king was told when he would see the empty villages he would be told that all residents were working in the fields. He guessed that bad things were happening but did not realize at what level.
More later ...