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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sek Yi: 'I want to visit Angkor Wat'

Sek Yi: 'I want to visit Angkor Wat'

sek yi.jpg
sek yi.jpg

Sek Yi, who at 120 is the country's oldest man and one of the oldest people on the

planet, has one final ambition before he dies: To see the historic Angkor Wat temple

complex in Siem Reap.

Sek Yi, 120, hopes to see Angkor Wat, which was rediscovered by French explorer Henri Mouhot about 20 years before he was born.

Yi, who lives in a remote village in the south-eastern province of Kampong Cham,

said he tried once before in the late 1960s to see the famed temple complex, but

was unsuccessful.

"I tried to visit Angkor Wat, but the civil war prevented me from reaching it,"

he said. "But I would still like to see it before I die."

Last year, Yi was invited by King Norodom Sihanouk to visit Phnom Penh. He had never

before traveled to the capital. Yi was brought by road along with his 108-year-old

wife Ouk, who is blind.

One of Yi's many grand-daughters says the couple were very pleased to meet the King.

Yi was amazed at what he saw on his journey to Phnom Penh.

"He saw all the roofs of the houses and pointed them out to us, saying: 'See

how many temples they have here'," she said. "We told him that they weren't

pagodas, but people's homes."

The King presented the pair with cash, rice and two wheelchairs, which now sit in

the corner of their humble home near the border with Vietnam. The two coffins that

Yi's family made for the couple wait in the opposite corner.

Although the cash and rice were welcome gifts, the wheelchairs remain unused, his

grand-daughter said. She has tried several times to encourage Yi into his chair so

that he can be wheeled around his village, but he resolutely refuses to leave the

confines of his tiny balcony.

His family hopes Yi will finally get the chance to see Angkor Wat, which was rediscovered

by French explorer Henri Mouhot a mere 20 years or so before Yi was born. But his

grand-daughter says the couple will need some assistance if they are to achieve their

final ambition.

"If someone can help us, perhaps the King, then I know he would love to see

Angkor Wat before he dies," she said.

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