In the past few years, Cambodia has suddenly caught the attention of tourists and travellers the world over. Suddenly, everyone has realized what they have been missing all along by ignoring Cambodia in favor of her more famous neighbors such as Thailand. This Asian country has a lot to offer tourists, and if only you are keen enough, you will make lifelong memories in this country. Here are some of the things that make Cambodia one of the most wonderful places in the world and one that you will have to try very hard not to fall in love with:
1. The Angkor Wat Temples, Siem Reap:
The Angkor Wat temples are synonymous with Cambodia- they are literally the face of tourism in Cambodia. One thing that makes them so popular among tourists is the view of the sunrise from the temples. Few places in the world can beat the breathtaking view of the sunrise from this place- it is simply one of the most wonderful places in the world. You wouldn’t believe just how many tourists make it to these temples by five in the morning just so they can catch the glorious sunrise. The downside of the popularity of this tourist site is that it is often flooded with tourists in the morning, which might mean some obstruction of the magnificent view. On the brighter side however, the Angkor Wat is more massive than people give it credit for, which means that you can still find an isolated spot to watch the sunrise from.
When you are not watching the sunrise, you can also go around the temples and learn a bit about the Cambodian people. The Angkor Wat temple has a rather interesting history. The temple was built in about three decades, and was a home for King Survyaman II at the beginning of the 12th century. Since then, the temple was neglected for centuries, until it was discovered by French Colonialists in the 19th century. Although it was abandoned, the temple never lost any of its majestic grandeur, and it was only a matter of time before the temple was restored to its former glory. Today, there are countless forms of art that are displayed in the temples- from carvings of lovely Cambodian lasses to images of heaven and hell, which can be really grotesque.
2. The Khmer Rouge Terror:
Another aspect of Cambodia that is bound to squeeze some sympathy and compassion from even the most hardhearted tourists is the Tuol Sleng holocaust site. The dark history surrounding this Genocide museum serves to remind humanity of the horrors of power taken too far. The museum tells of the story of the bloody Khmer Rouge dynasty, which lasted between 1975 and 1979; the story of how over 3 million people were tortured and maimed in Cambodia. If you feel up to it you can even visit the mass graveyards and see the skulls that the Cambodian government has preserved to date. There is no denying the fact that visiting this genocide museum can prove to be a solemn or even harrowing experience for some. But this museum serves to remind humanity to learn from its mistakes, and to pay heed to what history has to say.
3. The Cambodian People
The Cambodian people are some of the liveliest people on earth, and this, despite the fact that their lives are filled with enormous challenges. Poverty and disease may stalk this people, hunger and pain may dog them, but they still find a way to enjoy life to the fullest. They are the ultimate definition of resilience and defiance; the face of strength in spite of struggle. Visit any of the fishing villages, or the rice paddies and you will be confronted with images of abject poverty. You will most likely also meet with a number of barefooted children on their way home from school. These young souls will certainly make your heart melt, as they shower you with plenty of attention and affection. You would be forgiven for thinking of yourself as a celebrity, because these children treat you as one.
Alternatively, you can choose to spend a couple days in any one of the laidback towns that dot the country. A week spent in Kep or Kampot is enough to erase all the worries off your mind. You can in fact even forget about the time, because in these towns, there is absolutely no hurry or worry.
4. Cambodian Food:
Cambodian cuisine is one that every visitor in the country simply relishes. The meals are simple enough, save for the occasional reserves for the strong hearted. If you like to try new things, then you can try a specific Cambodian specialty that contains more ants and insects than you can imagine. It is a savory dish, but only those brave at heart can really enjoy it. Cambodia is also one of the few places in the world where you can eat noodles that have been painstakingly pounded out of rice. When served with green curry gravy made from a multitude of herbs and spices, it makes one of the most scrumptious dishes. You can also have some fried crab or Kdam Chaa as the locals call it. These crabs are freshly gotten out of the water and they are prepared using the famous Kampot pepper when it is raw. The flavor of this meal is simply unrivalled.
Another perk of visiting Cambodia is that Western food here is fairly affordable. This is a big plus for the country, because in most other Asian countries Western food is ridiculously expensive. As far as diet is concerned, your stay in Cambodia will certainly be memorable.
5. Lovely Beaches:
If for no other reason, you simply must love Cambodia for its perfect, sandy beaches. These beaches are a true haven of peace. Sink your toes in the soft beach sand, go on long walks in the beaches, indulge in sun bathing, and you will end up falling in love with Cambodia. On moonlit nights, the sight of these pristine beaches will certainly remain etched in your mind for a long time, as it is simply stunning. What is more, the beaches are usually free of hawkers, and they are usually not crowded. Nothing spells perfect better.
6. Cambodian Houses:
Something that is also very striking about Cambodia is the housing. In addition to more conventional houses, there are also houses that are built on stilts and some that literally float on water. The houses are raised to keep them cool when temperatures get brutally high, and also to provide shade underneath. The stilts also help keep inhabitants safe in case of floods. The floating villages on the other hand are inhibited by three communities, namely the Chong Kneas, Kampong Khleang and Kampong Phulk, whose main occupation is fishing. The creativity and spirit of the Cambodian people is simply admirable, and it is one of the reasons why it is such a lovely country.
Cambodia is the ultimate definition of a holiday destination. In addition to the numerous tourist sites that dot the country, there are several advantages that this country has over most others. For one thing, life in Cambodia is fairly affordable; some may even label it as cheap. Additionally, Cambodia’s weather is rather mild, save for some months when the heat can be a huge bother. Moreover, Cambodia is easy to access- you can get there by land or air. It really is a matter of preference. All in all, Cambodia is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful places in the world, and one that you must visit at least once to experience all its beauty.
About the Author:
“Evans Lily is the founder of SkyWeFly, where she and her associates blog about photographs, stories and travel tips that will help you make a great journey. She hopes to bring her passion to more people via SkyWeFly.”