Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and the Gulf of Thailand coastline.
16.7 million (2020)
Do remove your shoes when you enter someone’s house or when visiting a pagoda
The head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body so don’t touch or pat someone’s head
Three foods you need to try in this country:
- Fish Amok (steamed coconut fish in banana leaves)
- Char Kroeung Sach Ko (stir fried lemograss beef)
- Nom Banh Chok (khmer noodles)
- Bai Sach Chrouk (grilled pork and broken rice)
What the country is known for :
- Angkor Wat temples
- Phnom Phem Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
- Infamous Khmer Rouge
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeng Ek Memorial
- Rice production
- Siem Reap beaches
More About Cambodia
When you are invited for a ‘sister’s trip’ to a country you have never heard about, because she is working there, you google it and book your ticket – it’s the caring thing to do. I had the pleasure of visiting the Kingdom of Cambodia in 2015. My sister was living and working in Phnom Penh, so accommodation and basic logistics were taken care of. My first impression of Cambodia was – surprise. I am not sure what I expected, but after the other countries I had visited in Asia, this was not it.
Phnom Penh was a little confusing for me, and it had a stark combination of developed and developing. Infrastructure was good and available, with lots of construction going on all over the place, definitely a country on the rise. However, it seemed like a city of contrasts with its grand palace, silver pagodas, mansions and some amazing shopping malls not too far from derelict buildings, rubbish heaps and unauthorised housing structures. Not a lot of people I came across in Cambodia spoke English outside of the main tourist locations, even there, a lot of sign language was required to fill in the gaps in understanding. Due to France’s influence, french was the language of government from 1863 to 1953, therefore, it is still spoken by some older Cambodians.
To get some context of the country, a visit to Choeng ek Memorial (the Killing Fields) from Phnom Penh and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was very helpful. It provides a better understanding of the Cambodian Genocide that took place in the Country between 1975 and 1979 under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, which was led by Pol Pot. Granted the museum and the killing fields are emotionally heavy places to visit but they honour the victims whose lives were cut short by shedding light on Cambodia’s dark temple. As you explore the rest of the country, one can see remnants of that not-so-distant history. Researchers, in a journal published in the World Psychiatry Journal in 2016 noted that an estimate of over 40% of the population suffer from anxiety or PTSD.
The north of the country is the ancient temple of Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap. The infrastructure of this temple is incredible. It is the original site for Tomb Raider, with trees growing around and above and around the walls. I believe the structure of the roots of these trees is what inspired the ‘tree of life’. A walking tour is highly recommended to get an understanding of how this incredible temple came to be, as well as its use over time. There are many iconic temples one can visit around Cambodia. Other popular temples are The Bayon Temple which has over 200 carved stone faces, and Ta Prohm temple which made an appearance in the 2001 movie Tomb Raider starring Hollywood actress Lara Croft. There are also a variety of lovely beaches one can escape to enjoy some time around the water.
A variety of delicious food offerings are available. The influences from different parts of the Asia have resulted in interesting fusions in the culinary offerings with offers of a variety of rice and noodle dishes. The street markets are definitely not to miss. For the adventure eater, Cambodia has lots of interesting delicacies to try out, from insects, to snakes or frogs.
Also, Cambodia is very inexpensive in comparison to other South East Asian countries, which means that your money will go further than in other places. With the beaches, the mountains, cultural activities and the adventure spots, there is a lot of variety on offer for travellers. Checking the weather before travelling is a good idea as I gained a fresh appreciation for air conditioning as the weather was scorching during my trip. Also, to travel between cities check out the overnight buses, they are sleeper buses and were the most comfortable rides I have ever experienced!
|Thank you||Saum arkoun|
|Do you speak English?||Tae anak niyeay pheasaeaangklesa te?|
|Where is the toilet?||Tae bangkon nowenea?|
|May I please have some water?||Tae khnhom som tuk khleah ba te?|
|I would like some food please||Khnhom chngban ahar khleah|
|Where can I get a taxi?||Tae khnhom ach ttuol ban taksai nowenea?|
NEWS & UPDATES
I always try and immerse myself in the local food culture. In many parts of Asia and South America, I have found that street food is very much part of the culture. As the diligent