Cambodia: A whistle stop tour

Sometimes when travelling you have to decide where where the best bang for your buck is in terms of time.

Cambodia, for us, was a brief encounter stopping only at Phnomh Penh and Siem Reap. Two days in both of these places is enough if you’re short on time. It’s just a mere 6 hour bus journey between the two (no sarcasm here, 6 hours is a dream compared to the usual 26 hour buses you’ll get around South East Asia).

Phnomh Penh

A good thing to do is to hire a tuk tuk for the day and they’ll take you to all the main stops. For Phnomh Penh, that’s the S21 Prison and the Killing Fields.

I cannot emphasise enough how unprepared I was to visit here. As a child of the UK and Europe, we never touched Asia in terms of history and I was shocked and horrified to learn of the Cambodian Genocide, Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge. How is it possible that I had never heard of this? It happened within my generation’s parents’ lifetime.

This place is a stark reminder that we live in a world where extremism exists and it’s dangerous.

At both the S21 prison and the killing fields, I listened to the recounts, I walked in their footsteps and I wept. As I write now, I weep.

If you visit Phnomh Penh, please visit these places. They are not pleasant places to be but they are so important. We must not forget. We must remember and learn.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is where you’ll go for the temples. Angkor Wat is the big one and boy is it worth the fuss. Pretty much no matter what time of day you go it’s going to be busy but sunrise is popular time.

Again, the easiest way to do this is to hire a tuk tuk for the day and they’ll take you around the temples and wait for you. Bonus if you find some other like minded travellers wanting to do do the same thing to share the cost.

Angkor Wat is… Is… It’s always so hard to try not to be cliche when travel writing… is truly a sight to behold. Walking down to the main temple building, it’s intricate architecture combined with its sheer size really takes you aback.

Being blessed by a monk here was a humbling experience and as a non religious but quietly spiritual person, it’s an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Ta Prohn temple, more commonly known as the jungle temple for its Tomb Raider fame, has a completely different atmosphere. Engulfed by vines, the temple and jungle become one, creating a unique exploration through its remains.

Pub Street is also worth a mention if you’re after a wild night out. Think Bangkok’s Khao San Road after it’s been listening to happy hardcore. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of that night!

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