Smiling Cambodia

Continuation of Laid Back Laos

Kratie

After Laos, I crossed the border with Cambodia and the first place I saw in Cambodia was Kratie. Not because I wanted to see this city so desperately but the other option was a much longer bus ride and I wasn’t really in the mood for long bus rides. The main attraction in this city are the river dolphins  but I already saw them so I didn’t bother.  So I walked around the city and got my first impression of Cambodia and it was not a bad one at all. The people were so friendly and smiling all the time. I discovered that most cities in Cambodia have a Psar which is like a roofed market. They sell all kinds of stuff like clothes and food but beware if you go in, they also sell meat while it’s hot inside and there is a roof so the air can’t get out and it’s…well, let’s say not one of the best things I’ve ever smelled.

Siem Reap

Angkor Wat

One of the highlights of this trip was the Angkor Wat temple complex, close to Siem Reap. Because it’s a big tourist attraction the city Siem Reap is pretty western but it was nice for a change. You can have a lot of nice food like really cheap but tasty noodles on the street but the best thing I had and the most fun was a Cambodian BBQ with all kinds of meat like snake and crocodile.

Bayon Temple

I was meeting up with a friend I met before while travelling and together we explored the Angkor Wat temples. We bought a three-day-ticket so we could see all the temples including the most famous one with sunrise and sunset. The place is huge but every temple is different in a way. My favorites were a temple with big faces made from rocks, a temple with trees growing in and on the walls and a nice breezy temple on top of a mountain with a great view. If you don’t pay a lot attention to all the children running up to you and asking if you want drinks, food, books and whatever, you will have a great experience. For me it was awesome.

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

The Capital city of Cambodia is Phnom Penh. I remember arriving there at Christmas and for me as a person from the Netherlands, it’s quite strange to see a Santa Claus while it’s 30 degrees outside. But that aside, Phnom Penh is a very energetic city and people are doing all kinds of things outside when it’s around dusk. They are dancing in big groups on the street, playing badminton, jogging or just taking a walk. In Phnom Penh is also the Royal Palace which you can visit. You’ll see beautiful buildings with typically shaped roofs in a golden color in a green and well maintained garden.

Killing Fields

Phnom Penh is also the place where you can see more of the disturbing history in the time of the Khmer Rouge. It was a time of genocide and the big leader Pol Pot wanted to turn Cambodia in a rice farming country. All the people with any kind of intellect were killed and it’s a very dark page in the Cambodian history. To get an impression how horrible things were you can visit the Tuol Sleng museum what used to be a school first but became a prison in the time of the Khmer Rouge. Many people we tortured and killed here and you can still see the rooms where the people were chained to the bed and the small cells. They show pictures of faces from the people who were killed and there’s a very eerie atmosphere.

A second thing are the Killing Fields just outside the city. It’s a mass grave and in the middle there’s a big pile of skulls from people who were buried here. It’s weird because it looks like a calm place now with butterflies flying around but if you look close, you’ll still find pieces of bones and teeth on the ground. These two things aren’t fun at all but it’s a good way to learn more about the country.

Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville

Alright, to bring you to happier things I’ll go on to Sihanoukville at the coast of Cambodia. I stayed here for more than a week and it’s a great place to relax and do nothing. There are a couple of beaches and all of them are different. You have beaches where you can party all night, every night but I stayed at Otres Beach which is the most quiet one. That time they had only electricity from generators a couple of hours a day, there was no internet and there were only simple wooden beach huts. The only thing I did was walking on the beach, eating, chatting with other travelers, reading and watching sunsets. I loved it for a while!

Otres Beach

So these are the main things I’ve seen in Cambodia but there’s actually some more you can do. I think it’s a very beautiful country. In general, the people are very friendly and smiling a lot. It surprised me after I heard about the horrible history which was not that long ago. But you can still see it in the many victims of the landmines which are still widely spread around the country and are a big problem. Just like in Laos it’s very easy to travel around and it’s super cheap. I’ve had some pretty good food like in banana leave steamed fish and lots of other things. Angkor Wat is definitely a must see and don’t skip it if you’re ever close by.  I spend two weeks in Cambodia and for me it was enough. It gave me good memories.

The story continues on Foodelicious Vietnam

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