10 Feb

Cambodia is one of those places that every traveller has to go to before they die. It’s a mystical magical place that can rub shoulders with the ancient wonders of Egypt.  Unfortunately the 1000 year old temples are the only remarkable thing about Cambodia.

The major temples of Angkor are all located near the town of Siem Reap.  If not for the temples Seam reap would just be another Cambodian village.    Siem Reap is the rest stop for all tourists exploring the temples, and unfortunately that’s all you experience.  Just thousands of tourists, from backpackers to package tourists, roaming the streets.  There is no real feel of Cambodia or Cambodian culture.  everything feels a bit fabricated.

Even with some of the most spectacular sites in the world, Cambodia is a very poor country and poverty lurks around every corner.    Coming from a country where poverty is a daily issue, I have become somewhat immune to it.  I know this sounds very selfish and arrogant but if you are faced with something everyday you tend to get used to it.  But this year in Korea took my away from the reality of seeing beggars on the street and people living in shanty towns.  Seeing people suffering after such a long time really broke my heart.  Little kids begging for food and people missing limbs going around with a sign asking for some help was just horrible.  It’s horrible that people have to live like that.  We gave what we could.  As with any poor country in Asia, I guess, a tourist is a walking talking shiny dollar sign and that is exactly how we were treated.  Apart from the staff at our hotel I found general Cambodians to be very rude.   They would stick a smile on their faces when they are trying to sell you something or convince you that you need to take a ride in their tuk-tuk.  But after the sixth”no thank you” that smile quickly goes away and is replaced with a look of disgust.  When they shouting out prices of things in the market they sound like whiney 3 year olds.  All of them.  The sounds of ‘one dollah’ coming at you from all directions was a little unnerving.  So I came to the conclusion that Seam Reap is just a stopover, a resting place, somewhere to recuperate and regain your strength for the next day’s tomb raiding.

Also it’s important never to be in a place for longer that is required.  It is possible to take most of the important sights in Siem Reap in 3 days.  We had a total of 5 days and it felt a little long.  But nonetheless I had a great time and it was magical to walk and climb inside the temples.  There is just something about walking in a 1000 year old structure that is difficult to put into words.  It’s just amazing.

I happened to have my birthday in Cambodia and although it’s very exotic and everything I missed celebrating my birthday with my friends.  But that doesn’t mean that my birthday wasn’t awesome.  I was treated to a helicopter ride/flight (I don’t know which one) around the magical Angkor Wat.  It was truly magical and something I will cherish for the rest of my life!

Cambodia was great and right up there with the awesomeness I experienced in Egypt!


One Response to “Cambodia”

  1. jackie February 10, 2011 at 20:11 #

    What about when phil greeted you guys at the airport? wasn’t that magical?

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