Cambodia- A reflection

7 Jan

After crossing the border over into Vietnam today and deciding to have an early night in Chau Doc following last night’s 3 hours of sleep I thought it best to write a quick reflection on Cambodia.

I have a habit of falling in love with Southeast Asian countries. I’ve already fallen victim to Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and of course my second home Indonesia and Cambodia can be added to that list. While my time there was short, I found it to be a rollercoaster ride of contrasts and emotions. From incredible Angkor Wat to the tragedy of Phnom Penh and the chilled out vibe of Sihanoukville, the country had it all. We drove across the entire country in only a week. By bus, van, tuk-tuk and boat we made it and while it was a really tough slog we all pulled through in one piece.

One thing that really got to me however was the poverty. I’m no stranger to poverty in these countries but it was very evident in Cambodia. This combined with other issues like the landmines really causes a feeling of helplessness and how can we help them? Hearing stories about the hardship of peoples’ lives and particularly stories of life under the Khmer Rouge are incredible. Cambodians truly are sharing and willing to share stories and even just have you join in what they are doing. Hearing about people like Aki Ra and Chun Mey the S-21 survivor is inspiring.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is of course the genocide. I think a lot of us had moments where we struggled seeing this up close. The scale of it is hard to grasp and the idea of 3 million people out of a  tiny nation being systematically wiped out without any intervention makes the situation even more difficult to comprehend (without delving into geopolitics and the like) it’s mind blowing to see it in a way which is so raw and so personal.

To pick a favourite place seems unfair but I’d be inclined to say Siem Reap. I’ve dreamt of seeing Angkor Wat for such a long time and Siem Reap offered that and so so much more. Would I go back to Cambodia? Yes. Without a doubt. I’d like to spend a few weeks there to really explore and see more of the country but when I’ll get the opportunity to go back? Who knows. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Also this was my first time trying to travel in a tour group and I have to say it has been a blast. Sure the time is rushed but it’s so simple and we have fit in so much sometimes having 16+ hour days. I’ve met great people from Australia and a number of other countries and I’m feeling a bit sad about having to say goodbye to them in less than 48 hours when I leave the country. Also our group leader was amazing and super helpful making sure this tour was really great.  I’ve already picked the next tour that I’m going to do so hopefully will be travelling with G again very soon.

That’s it for Cambodia. A wonderful country which didn’t fail to impress and offered more than I could ever imagine.


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