A land still in recovery from recent tragedy, Cambodia is embracing tourism with arms wide open and my goodness don’t you feel the warmth of…
A land still in recovery from recent tragedy, Cambodia is embracing tourism with arms wide open and my goodness don’t you feel the warmth of that embrace. There is no-one quite like the Cambodians with heart felt smiles, a genuine interest to learn about you and I can guarantee that even your Tuk-Tuk driver will leave you laughing.
With the most illustrious temple complex in the world, it is no surprise that of all the places to see in Cambodia, Siem Reap takes precedent. And why not? The town itself is a melting pot of cuisine, market stalls, organic cafe’s and an endless array of sightseeing. When it comes to temples, Angkor Wat is the one to see and that is because it is outstanding but when it comes to this iconic structure, knowledge is power and so we’ve created a short and simple Angkor Wat 101 to make you get the most out of your visit and get you inside the gates for a free sunset sneaky peak too! Surrounding this main compound are an elaborate array of otherworldly temples, some retaining the piercing looks from their carved stone faces while others have been overpowered by natures incessant growth. Suffocating trunks grappling with stone has an amazing effect.
If Temples are your thing than we insist you make a little detour. Only one hour away from Siem Reap is the unknown and rarely visited ancient Kingdom of Koh Ker. Predating Angkor Wat by 300years and swathed in jungle, Koh Ker is outstanding, remote and has one hell of a pyramidal structure at its rear. WOW!
Cambodia has one of the most tragic histories in recent times, and nowhere suggests it more than its capital city. Often misunderstood, Phnom Penh is a transport hub for travellers but also the place with which to connect with the trauma Cambodians have recently faced. Harrowing but informative the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a school turned prison is a somber place that retells the experiences of Cambodians. This is their story and as a visitor to the country it is only proper that we listen. Maybe we can learn something about the values of humanity or take some appreciation. If you would like further reading we, like everyone else highly recommend the autobiography “first they killed my father.”
The Killing Fields are Phnom Penh’s second portrayal of Cambodia’s history but this haunting place has been preserved for ‘touristic’ purposes only. Its entrance fees do not benefit local communities and relatives of victims would like the chance to bury the remains rather than have them on display. For these reasons we did not visit.
Aside from connecting with Cambodia’s history, Phnom Penh is seen as a typical Asian city with little reason to stay. But from our experience, give this capital city a couple of days and it will creep under your skin. Colourful Markets, fine dining and vibrant lively streets have left us mystified by Phnom Penh time after time.
There is a high life to be lived in Phnom Penh and the good news is you can do it lucratively but also on a budget making it a fantastic place to eat, drink and pamper yourself. This is our insight in living the luxury lifestyle on a budget in Phnom Penh.
Aside from Phnom Penh Cambodia’s other best kept secrets survive on the water. Tonle Sap Lake harbours the World’s best examples of a floating village with churches, taxis and construction occurring right before your very eyes. Then, on the northern banks of the Mekong, a small town called Kratie is the best place in the World to see a river dolphin. Rare and elusive, the Irrawaddy Dolphin congregates in a portion of the might Mekong year round and from this river port sightings are guaranteed for half of the year.
Cheap accommodation, food and alcohol bring many people to Cambodia but if Cambodia doesn’t make you feel like you want to give something back, nowhere will. Cambodia is a massive contender for exploitation, the fact is that many westerners are taking advantage of the poverty and trauma experienced by Cambodians to get whatever they want. I am not saying that we as backpackers can make a huge difference to what goes on, but I am saying that we with our comfortable lives and ability to travel, can help the people of Cambodia on a daily basis, by returning the hospitality we receive with kindness and by not holding onto our purses with mean grasping hands. Please travellers, show a little courtesy and generosity while travelling in Cambodia, she and her people will fill you with warmth in return.