Cambodia is a country with a long, rich and recently tragic history. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic place to visit and should be part of any tour of South East Asia.
Monks at Angkor Wat.
The thing most people know about Cambodia is Angkor Wat. Originally created as a collection of Hindu temples, it was later adapted (hundreds of years ago) to Buddhism, as Hinduism was replaced in the region. I took this photo of Buddhist monks who were visiting the temple.
The faces in the Bayon Temple.
The river town of Tonle Sap.
Not far from Siem Reap, the major city near Angkor, is Tonle Sap. Tonle Sap is not a lake, but actually a widening of the Mekong River, where during the year, the water level can rise and fall up to 10m. There are villages of people who live on Tonle Sap in floating houses. The communities move with the water level, often up or downstream as needed. Everyone in the floating villages travels via boat, including going to school, the market and temples.
Crocodiles in Tonle Sap.
Crocodiles are actually farmed on Tonle Sap. They are raised, fed locally caught fish, and then harvested for their skin and meat.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Preah Vihear.
Cambodia has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor and the lesser-known Preah Vihear. Located literally right next to the border with Thailand (the border is at the bottom of the hill the temple is located on) Preah Vihear has been the scene for recent border skirmishes between Thai and Cambodian military forces. Both countries have claimed the temple in the past, and it has been a major sticking point between them. Oddly enough, until recently, Thailand made most of the money off of visits to Preah Vihear because the only paved road there was on their side of the border. I have been told that has recently been changed, however.
Preah Vihear sits close to the border in between Cambodia and Thailand.
While Cambodia does have a troop presence at Preah Vihear, it is mostly so they can stake their claim on the site. When I visited in 2008, most of the soldiers were sleeping or playing cards.
Skulls serve as a reminder of the mass killings by the Khmer Rouge.
The defining event in Cambodia’s recent history, and one of the biggest tragedies of the 20th century, was the mass killings carried out by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. It is estimated that over one million people died in Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, many through systematic death camps like the Killing Fields.
The Toul Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh.
The Toul Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh was a former high school which was converted into a prison and execution facility. Of the 17,000 people who entered the prison, only 12 survived. As with the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge kept meticulous records on everyone who was killed in the prison. Today it is a museum and is kept in the same condition as when it was liberated in 1979.
The French influence around Phnom Penh.
Despite the hard times which have befallen Cambodia, you can still see French influences and glimpses of what once made Phnom Penh one of the great cities in Asia.
G Adventures runs a number of departures to Cambodia encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.