My journey through Cambodia has come to an end today and I am somewhat happy about it. While visiting new countries and learning about their culture and way of life is a passion of mine, I never seemed to get on with Cambodia. I arrived in the country having high expectations from stories I have heard, so I believe my expectations were set too high.
In Cambodia I visited Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Out of the 3 destinations Siem Reap was my favourite, aside from being admitted to hospital. I liked Siem Reap the most as I felt the area was the most cultural place we visited. They had many temples, including the beautiful Angkor Wat. We visited Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise up from behind the temple, this illuminated the ruins and the temple created a stunning silhouette. It was lovely to watch. The sunrise was shortly followed by a tour of the temple and near by ones also. The tour was worth doing as we were shown things we wouldn’t have otherwise found and taught facts about the local area. It did seem to be never ending though and by the end we were plodding around in the sweltering heat and completely starving, I did begin to question my life choices. Another activity I did in Siem Reap was visit the floating village, I believe this trip was a bit of a waste of money as, due to the water levels being low this time of year, we were unable to actually go around the village. Our boat couldn’t go near the village as it would have ruined the engine so we had to look from afar. If I had known that this would be the trip I probably wouldn’t have gone on it. Although learning about their life and survival skills was undeniably interesting.
Phnom Penh was the second city we visited which is the capital of Cambodia. We were warned before hand that pick pocketing in the area upon the tourists. This set us all on edge a little bit and made us weary of our belongings. Also being a hop along on my crutches caused the locals to stare at me which made me feel quite uncomfortable. In Phnom Penh we went on a day trip visiting the killing fields and S-21. This tour was very emotional as we learnt some of the brutal truths about the corruption of the country and the war with the Khmer Rouge. I had little idea about their history and since visiting I feel like I need to educate myself further with the heartbreaking reality. We also met one of the child survivors of the Khmer Rouge of whom was aged at around 50 years old. I believe seeing this survivor really put into perspective of how recent the events were. A book/movie they were promoting there was ‘first they killed my father’ by Luong Ung. After this day trip I began reading the book, it is very well written and really makes you understand what Cambodians have had to deal with. The movie is on Netflix and is directed by Angelina Jolie.
In Sihanoukville I must admit, I didn’t do a lot. My foot was hurting and my tour group was going to the beach. It seemed pointless me going as I can’t get my foot wet. I opted to stay at the hotel and relax all day just incase I was to injure it again. I did however treat myself to a full body massage for $12 USD which was the best massage I have had in my life. The small Cambodian woman worked her magic and I came away feeling like a new person. From the talk after my tour groups trip to the beach, they said it was like a paradise and also that the islands were beautiful. They recommended it highly.
Having been to Cambodia now I don’t think I will want to return. I now understand their way of living but that is it. I felt that the country was quite dirty and at times I didn’t feel very safe at all. To put it into perspective one person on my tour group was walking back with a group of people and a motor bike drove passed snatching her bag away. Luckily nothing too important was in her bag, but it still set us all on edge.
I have recently entered through the Cambodia to Vietnam border and I already feel like I am going to like this country better. The streets seem better developed and there are actual buildings compared to shacks.
I’m going to look forward to what the next 12 days in Vietnam will bring.