Continuing on from an earlier post about Visiting Vietnam, we departed Ho Chi Minh City on a bus and literally crossed the border on foot. I was told those few metres between Vietnam and Cambodia are “no man’s land,” which I thought was pretty cool.
Most of my time in Cambodia was spent in Siem Reap. I did visit the capital city, Phnom Penh but unfortunately I was nursing a massive migraine so I didn’t really explore much of the city. However, I did manage to squeeze in a quick cyclo tour of the city, had a drink at the Foreign Correspondents Club and learned a lot about Cambodia’s recent history. I also visited the home of my tour guide’s friends. They live in Phnom Penh and were extremely gracious. They cooked a feast but unfortunately I fell asleep on their couch because of my migraine. I will never forget their kindness and understanding. Come to think of it, I did a fair bit in Phnom Penh!
Siem Reap is very tourist-y (I know that’s not a real word). It’s a small city with an array of restaurants, pubs and markets and the night life really comes alive. But what I really wanted to see, which I am sure is on many peoples’ bucket list, was Angkor Wat. If you can block out the insanely huge crowd, the temple is as picturesque as it appears in photos. I woke up at 3:45am so I could make it in time to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. It was stunning! My experience that morning was possibly once in my lifetime. The temple itself is incredible. What astounds me is how human beings created a remarkable building with their bare hands and ancient tools. The details carved on the walls tell their story for future generations to learn about. I understand why so many people from around the world want to see it. It’s glorious!
You would need several days to explore the whole site and all the temples within Angkor. In addition to Angkor Wat, I only managed to see two other temples – the Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm.
From sunrise to sunset, I made the decision to take a boat ride down Tonle Sap Lake to watch the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful. It’s kind of embarrassing that I am in my late 20’s and I have never bothered to watch the sunrise or the sunset until this trip. I definitely prefer the sunset. Dusk! I almost didn’t do this boat ride but I am so glad I did, as it ended up being one of the highlights of my trip. Tonle Sap Lake is a 20 minute drive (traffic pending) from the centre of Siem Reap. Upon arrival at the dock, tickets can be purchased for a boat ride. The boat goes through the lake and the floating villages. The floating villages are fascinating. Locals live, shop, eat and go to school on water. On top of that, the locals have the best view of the sunset every single day.
My few days in Cambodia presented a real culture shock. Seeing the sights is one thing but learning their tragic history in-depth and witnessing the struggles that locals face every day forced me to re-evaluate my life and the choices I make. It reminded me how lucky I am to be alive and healthy and live in a country where opportunities and dreams are attainable. You should never take anything for granted.
Quick hotel reference guide:
|Phnom Penh||Diamond Hotel|
|Siem Reap||Kingfisher Angkor Hotel|
What I was listening to:
- Don’t Hold Back EP – Louis La Roche
- Sorry – Justin Beiber
- Hotline Bling – Drake
- Honey (Classic Club Remix) – Mariah Carey