I'm incredibly glad I came to Cambodia. This has been one of the best decisions I've made regarding this round the world trip. Coming to Cambodia was not a last minute decision by any means. I've wanted to come here for a long time because:
1) No-one even thinks of coming here to visit and that's a shame. It's not nearly as popular as visiting Thailand for example but I've been told that's starting to change. Good;
2) Of the chance to explore, up close and personal, the incredible history of the country. Back in the 80s when I was in high school, we watched the film The Killing Fields. It was a shocking, amazing, devastating and after asking a few people here, very accurate film of the collapse of Cambodia and the rise of the Khmer Rouge in the mid to late 70s. I wanted to see just how much Cambodia has changed since that time period. Believe me, if you have seen the film the country has changed a LOT and for the better thank God. My tour guide told me his parents were around when the Khmer Rouge were in power and their lives were saved because they were farmers so therefore not a threat to the regime. The same cannot be said for anyone remotely connected to intellectual activities – doctors, professors, teachers, anyone supposedly with a brain were killed. I asked to go and was taken to the memorial for the unidentified bodies. Inside a small temple were skulls and bones – there were so many. I just can't put words to this blog about that experience. I took a picture but I'm not sure I'm going to post it, and;
3) Of the chance to meet and maybe get to know a few of the citizens of this amazing country. Simply amazing people who are now very happy or at least happier (I was told) because it is peaceful here now. I suppose after a regime like the Khmer Rouge you'd be peaceful and happy too now that they are no longer in control.
I'm also going to say that I'm very sorry I couldn't stay longer (I leave tomorrow) because there is so much more to see and explore here and I only got a nibble. Mind you a nibble is better than nothing at all right? Again, to happily repeat myself, I'm so glad I came here, so very glad. From the incredible accommodations at FCC Angkor Hotel, to the tour of the Angkor temples with my very knowledgeable and hilarious tour guide Ratanak (I actually learned something AND paid attention!!), to the Killing Fields memorial, all of it, everything was extraordinary. If I was going to recommend a place for my friends to visit it would be here. The history of Cambodia is grim and the fact that it has emerged from such a destructive past to the astonishing place it is now, filled with new hotels, tourists, friendly smiling people, and dare I say it, hope, says quite a bit about the country and its people. I'm so sorry if I keep repeating myself but I am so very, very glad I came here. Cambodia has brought me back (I sort of lost my way there after Singapore) to the realization of just how great this trip I'm on is and how lucky I am to be able to do this - to be able to explore this great big world and the many cultures in it. I'm very lucky.
I have a ton of pictures. I would have taken more if I had the time. I always seem to say, barring a few countries/places, that I'm going to come back to the places I've been (hello again Italy, Iceland, India etc, etc) and God willing and money, I really, really hope I'll be able to return and spend more time here in Cambodia. It's always difficult when you've grown to love a place and you have to leave. It's the hardest part of travelling.
Pictures of Cambodia in the next post.