In 1970, the head of state of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, was overthrown by one of his military officers, Lon Nol.

Sihanouk, who had declared Cambodia to be a neutral state, was in Moscow at the time. He then flew to Beijing. In Beijing, Premier Minister Zhou Enlai summoned Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng, and together they convinced Sihanouk to form a government-in-exile and resist Lon Nol.

Sihanouk proceeded to do so, and in the process, he decided to support a group that was also opposed to Lon Nol, the Khmer Rouge.

lib 1

In 1973, Sihanouk paid a visit to the Khmer Rouge base area in northeastern Cambodia, an area that the Khmer Rouge referred to as “the liberated zone.” To get there he first flew to Hanoi, and then traveled down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail.

There are photographs of Sihanouk’s visit to the liberated zone, and there is some old movie footage of his visit as well.

What I did not know until yesterday, however, is that there is a song that Sihanouk wrote during this trip. A Facebook friend posted about this song, and I found a booklet about it (digitized by Monash University) that contains the music and lyrics.

cover

The song is entitled “Thank You, Hồ Chí Minh Trail” (អរគុណ ផ្លូវ ហូ ចី មីញ). Sihanouk apparently originally wrote the lyrics in Khmer, and then translated them into French (“Merci, Piste Ho Chi Minh”).

This book also contains Vietnamese lyrics (“Cảm Ơn Đường Hồ Chí Minh”). I don’t know who wrote those.

My Facebook friend has a vinyl copy of this song, so hopefully he will digitize that at some point.

In the meantime, I created a version of it based on the music in the booklet.

Below I have also included the Vietnamese lyrics and an English translation. The Vietnamese lyrics are a bit more elaborate than the Khmer and French ones, but the content is essentially the same.

Bạn Việt Nam đã giúp tôi về đây,

Về miền biên giới của quê hương bấy lâu phải xa. . .

Đất Cam-pu-chia tôi về đây, qua con đường Hồ Chí Minh.

My Vietnamese friends helped me return here,

To the border of a homeland I’ve had to be away from for so long. . .

To the land of Campuchia I have returned, by way of the Hồ Chí Minh trail.

 

Bạn Việt Nam đã giúp tôi về đây,

Trở về Tổ quốc, sát vai với nhân dân của tôi,

Chống quân thù chung trong đấu tranh vẻ vang bảo vệ nước non này!

My Vietnamese friends helped me return here,

To return to the Homeland, and be close with my people,

And resist our common enemy in the glorious struggle to protect this country!

 

Mỗi bước tiến trên con đường,

Lòng thầm cảm ơn người anh hùng nhân dân!

With each step on this trail,

We feel gratitude inside for the hero of the people!

lyrics

Rạng danh Hồ Chí Minh, vinh quang thay con đường,

Đường dài Trường Sơn, sáng lên bao chiến công vẻ vang!

Glorifying the name of Hồ Chí Minh, how illustrious is this trail,

A long road through the Trường Sơn [mountains] that shines with countless glorious victories!

 

Việt-Lào-Khơ-me sát vai bên nhau cùng một trận tuyến,

Chúng ta thấm mối tính sâu.

Vietnamese, Lao and Khmer stand together on the same battle line,

We are imbued with a deeply-felt connection.

 

Đế quốc Mỹ phải tan.

Trên núi sông đẹp tươi rộn ràng lời ca!

The American empire must be shattered.

In these beautiful mountains let the words of this song be heard!