Aside from majestic temples, Cambodia’s more recent history is less beautiful. Ravaged by war and mindless cruelties, the Cambodian people have come a long way to today. Yet, remnants of this recent past still remain, and continue to endanger the locals’ lives. The CLMMRF chronicles this in their museum just a stone’s throw away from the other favourite temple, Bantaey Srei.
Travelling in the main cities in Cambodia of today has become increasingly convenient. Tuk-tuks and taxis are available everywhere – most drivers are well versed in English, or have major tourist sites listed on a picture board where you can point at and they’ll take you there.
On the second morning of our trip, we were picked up by our tuk tuk driver at around 5am. It’s been the earliest I’ve been up at in awhile. That itself was pretty refreshing – experiencing the early morning drive to the temples in pitch darkness. The roads had no lights, and vehicles of all sorts only had their own lights to depend on. It was a pretty chilly morning for Cambodia, and the fresh air was inviting.
When people talk about Siem Reap, it’s usually all about this area of ancient temples. Most simply falsely refer to this site as the “Angkor Wat”. But Angkor Wat is merely one amongst the many temples in this huge area – though it is the star of the park and sees the most number of tourists at any time of day.
Our first full day in Siem Reap was actually not immediately spent at the temples, but instead we ventured south to the floating village of Kampung Phluk in Tonle Sap. Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Cambodia and huge it really is. It is probably the size of an entire small city, or even bigger.
We had a week long break at the start of October due to the Chinese National Day celebrations. After all that planning, we finally set off to visit the charming land of Cambodia. We took an evening MU flight out and arrived in the night. (It was a bad flight, but that’s another story. We’re excited to see Cambodia Angkor Air will be flying direct here soon and will definitely fly with them instead next).
We quickly checked into our beautiful boutique hotel The Plantation, in a quiet street of central Phnom Penh and booked an independent tuk-tuk driver through the hotel for the next day. So, when people talk about Cambodia, it’s almost always immediately about the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap. The temples are indeed amazing but the millions of tourists yearly often overlook Cambodia’s very recent history (1975-1979) – the Khmer Rouge regime. Of which, the last surviving leaders are currently still facing trial for. Visiting the various museums that explains this, opens your eyes to the struggles of the Khmer people even today, as they continue to rebuild their nation after losing millions of their brothers.