Cambodia Done

April 9th, 2007

Cambodia was great.  We spent 15 days there, visited 4 cities, saw Anciet Ruins, villagers in the coutryside, the beach, and the busting city of Phenom Penh.  It is cheaper than Thailand, but not everywhere, and if you’re not careful you can pay american prices for things.  The people were really friendly, smiling while waving hello, especially the kids. There were kids everywhere – 40% of the population is under 15.  There was also plenty of expats and a few modern conveniences to remind you of home (yes, i enjoyed the big AC mall by the bus station in PP). There were some sad aspects – people missing limbs (from old land mines) and some general disfigurement, and they did hassle you for money alot, so it was not perfect, but not so much in your face that i had to leave.   I really only got annoyed when i was trying to relax on the beach and they kept coming up.  But at places like Angkor Wat, I was glad to have ones selling a cold drink (it was really hot the whole time in cambodia, april is like their hottest month).  There were lots of organizations trying to help cambodians – orphanages to businesses employing homeless are people who need help in one way or another.  It was good to be able to funnel money through something like that which you could trust, as opposed to a kid on the street, who get exploited by many adults.

To recap the journey, we spent 5 days in Siem Reap, getting 3-day pass to Angkor Wat.  I recommend the 3-day pass, but if you’re not a big fan of ruins, the 1-day pass would suffice.  We then do a boat to Battambang (boat was way more scenic than bus), spent a couple nights there, taking a khmer cooking class and a ride in the countryside, before heading south to the beach.  We spent 4 nights at Sihanoukville (the beach), mostly chilling and eating, then 4 nights in Phnom Penh, where we saw the killing fields and learned more about the horrible Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge.  Even though he lost control of the country in 1979, there was still fighting till 1993.  So it’s only been a little over a decade since cambodians have felt … free.  But the attitude is still live for the present.

My favorite things include the friendliness of the people – they’re always around, either trying to sell you something (usually bad), but good if you need something; obviously the magic of Angkor Wat, the good, cheap food; easy, cheap transportation; our clean beach room and nice sand; our beautiful lakeside place in Phnom Penh, and the monkeys of Wat Phnom.

If you’re going to SE Asia, definitely goto Cambodia.

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