After Thailand we headed to Cambodia for a couple of days. As soon as we got to the border of Thailand to go over Cambodia I could see a huge difference. It all started to look less developed, and a bit more dirty. I wasn’t sure if I was in the countryside or actually about to cross a government established border which looked like an old bridge about to fall. Anyways our great experience in the jungle was about to begin.
We bought a bus ticket from Bangkok straight to Siem Reap, this obviously did not include the visa fee. As a tourist you can get a visa on arrival at the border for only $20, yes, dollars can be used in Cambodia. When we got to the border, we got off and our driver was persuading us to buy the visa through them for $40. We did not accept so we were left on foot and without knowing how were we going to get to our destination. Fortunately, we bump into a tourist who had been to the country before and just tagged along with him. Ah, Canadians are so helpful!
The fun began the following day at 4 AM. We were ready to explore the Angkorian temples of the Khmer on our own tuk-tuk which rented for $15. We started early to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat but it was too cloudy that day. For almost the whole day we were walking through old temples, and climbing up and down.
After two days of visiting temples we hurried to our next destination, Pnom Peh, the capital of Cambodia. Here we visited one of the killing fields where thousands of people were clutter by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Instead of a tour guide, a digital recording is giving to each visitor. We were to be silent inside as a form of respect to the man, women, and children who died here. Walking through this field while listening to how people were brought to this place to be killed, and the testimonies of victims and soldiers, gave me chills. I had never experience such thing. On the ground were pieces of bones, and rags of people.
Then we visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. The place used to be a high school but after the Khmer Rouge took over they used it to torture victims, and incarcerate them. They actually built cells inside the classrooms, and many of the tools used to torture were still there. I am a person who gets scared very easily and walking through this place was not comfortable at all. Especially because my friends were fast and I was left behind. I tried to stay close to anyone even if I didn’t know them, but the whole thought of being alone in the room was pretty scary!
It was too much to take in on one day and I was glad to leave the place for something better… My paradise on land, Koh Rong. We headed to Sihanoukville, a beach in Cambodia from there we took a boat to the island. Koh Rong is a new island which developed about 2 years ago so it was pretty empty and didn’t have many commodities like electricity and hot water! For three days I had no communication with my parents, they were freaking out! ha. I also worried but I decided to just enjoy the scenery and my time. Koh Rong island was the perfect place to relax, read a book, and stay away from Facebook. We stayed at Paradiso hotel, I recommend this place for future travelers. The bungalows are really nice, we stayed in one of the new ones right in front of the beach. The food was really cheap, we usually went to the side where the locals live, a dinner plate with two kebabs, a small portion of grilled fish, side salad and bread for $4.00 USD.
The second day we went on a track to the other side of the island. It took us about three hours to get there, we walked through rocks, on mud, climbed down through very steep areas using a rope without wearing equipment. The only thing you use is your own force to hold to the rope and pray you won’t fall! It was worth it! I had never seen so much beauty, the water was warm, and very clear. We had the beach all for ourselves and a couple of sand flies! No wonder why there wasn’t anyone there. I was lucky not to get bitten but my friend had his whole back full of bites, it looked like acne.
At the end it was really hard to leave, Cambodia is definitely one of my favorite places. It is really cheap to travel around, we tried to save the most by staying at hostels where the night was around $10 for 3 people. The food was also very cheap, our most expensive meal was $4.00 and the cheapest $1.00 (street noodles, not bad at all!). Khmer food is a bit similar to Thai, but use different spices. The traditional dish is Amok, which is chicken, fish, or pork mixed with some green stuff that looked like leaves to me, and a red sauce. It is pretty good! I know i will be back at least to bring my family. There are so many things to learn from this country which suffered a great deal by its own people. See how the people live made me realize that I am blessed and should be thankful for what I have.
Nevertheless they seemed happy!