It happens very often that after I come back from a trip people ask me if I’m going to go back to the same place. I’m not a person who has her favourite place in the world and I go back there as often as I can. Even though because of my job and passion Italy has a special spot in my heart, I can’t imagine this country becoming my main holiday destination. Amongst my friends there are people who fell in love with a particular place or country and they go back there many, many times. I understand it but I prefer discovering new spots and even though I have been to many wonderful places, I usually don’t plan on going back there – I rather search for another place that I will fall in love with.
But I feel that Cambodia will be an exception here and I hope to go back there as soon as possible. Do you want to know why?
First of all I feel that I absolutely haven’t made the most of Cambodia: few days in the country were planned on the way to Thailand (had my flight back home from there) from Laos mostly because I wanted see the spectacular Angkor Wat temples. So I can say that Cambodia wasn’t really my main destination but rather a beautiful stop on the way before one place and another. It didn’t take me long to realise that I should have planned a longer stay in Cambodia. Angkor Wat is a truly incredible place (soon you will be able to read a post about it on the blog 🙂 ) but there’s much, much more to Cambodia than just these temples.
This country is full of beautiful spots I’m already preparing a list of places I would like to see: for example pepper fields, villages around the Tonlé Sap lake and the ones floating on it (!!!) and the Southern part of Cambodia: Kampot area and the islands. But to me travelling is not only going from a place to another but also getting to know a new culture and understanding the people who live there. I really loved the Cambodian people: they’re always smiling, super friendly and many of them speak English very well (way better than in Thailand, not to mention Laos). There’s also one more important thing about Cambodians: I’m really touched by the country’s recent history. Cambodians have experiences an unbelievable cruelty of the Khmer Rouge and now are rebuilding the country, trust and national pride. Unfortunately the results of the civil war can still be easily spotted: on the streets you can see very, very few elderly people, you can clearly understand that this generation is missing. The propotion of the Khmer Rouge victims to the country population is bigger that in any other country in recent history, it is estimated that 20-25% of the Cambodian population were killed. Amongst the people who survived there are many crippled people who lost their health because of land mines explosions – land mines that are still present in Cambodia, especially in the Western part of the country. Recently rats (!) have been used in order to smell and find landmines that later are detonated by soldiers. I really hope that the country will be landmines-free shortly, I’m sure that will influence a lot safety and stability of Cambodia.
But let’s talk about Cambodia nowadays. Even though we can’t (and shouldn’t) forget the terrible history of the country, it’s great to see that the country is flourishing now and becoming more and more developed. In the city of Siem Reap I loved its colours, great atmosphere, charming bars and delicious food. I walked through the city during the day and went to night markets during the evenings. For longer distances I used tuk tuks as main mean of transport and I had the impression that there are thousands of tuk tuks literally everywhere! All these aspects create an interesting and vibrant city.
Of course the country wouldn’t be developping as fast as it’s doing now without all the tourists who visit Cambodia each year. But let’s be honest, all the hotels, bars and restaurants don’t treat their employees the same way and sometimes the money we spend in Cambodia doesn’t necessarily go to the locals. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to do a small research before booking a hotel or deciding where to go for dinner. During my stay in Cambodia I decided to go for a beer in a pub because of this sign:
I will definitely be looking for similar places when I go back to Cambodia. Hopefully that will happen soon, I already have some plans in mind 🙂
Below you can find some photos taken during my stay in Cambodia, I tried my best to capture the country’s atmosphere. Soon I will post an article about Angkor Wat (with many, many photos), stay tuned!