Cambodia



Cambodia is a country that only recently emerged from a century of wars, famine and fear. First it suffered from post-colonial Indochina chaos, then civil war, and was then dragged into the Vietnam War (although a neutral country, it was massively carpet bombed by the USA), a war that helped the Khmer Rouge seize power. The Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot carried out one of the worst genocides in history, in which 2 to 3 million people (around 25% of Cambodia's population) died. The Khmer Rouge then started a war with Vietnam, which they lost and surrendered completely in 1999.
The country has some somewhat recovered since, and Cambodia is now firmly established in the tourist trail.


 

Angkor Wat

After being lost in the heart of Cambodia's jungle for many centuries, the massive Angkor complex contains the remains of capitals of the Khmer Empire, which controlled most of Southeast Asia at its peak. There's countless temples, after the 5th one there's a good chance of suffering "temple fatigue", so best to just focus on the top three temples namely: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Thom.


 

Tonlé Sap floating village

Less than an hour out of Siem Reap is Tonlé Sap, a large freshwater lake home to entire villages built on stilts. Houses are erected on rafts that can be towed to different areas depending on water levels. Visits to the village usually were done via 'government' tourist boats costing $20, but I convinced a local fisherman to take me on his boat for the same price. This led to a heated argument with several "'government' people, who were visibly irritated that I went on a fisherman boat and not theirs. But at least that way I knew the money would go straight to the fisherman as opposed to corrupt government louts. I shared the boat with the fisherman's grandmother and his two kids, they even took us to see their house in the village.


 

Siem Reap

Siem Reap mostly exists to house tourists who come to visit Angkor Wat. There's a night market with various Apsara dance shows (traditional Cambodian dance), and there's a very lively street called Pub Street.


 

Koh Rong

Koh Rong is an island in the Sihanoukville province. It’s known for its sandy coves and coral reefs, like those around Koh Rong Pier. Inland, the dense jungle terrain is dotted with coconut palms and waterfalls.


 

Phnom Penh

The capital city is pushing to reinvent itself as the go-to destination for both tourists and property investors. In recent years, Phnom Penh, has undergone a development boom. The once skyscraper-less city now has new buildings dotting the skyline, as well as numerous malls planned for the coming years.


 

Cambodian wedding

While in a Siem Reap, I took part in a Cambodian wedding, a very colorful experience.