Welcome to the Kingdom of Wonder!
Cambodia was one of those sorts of destinations where I truly did not know what to expect but I think that traveling to a destination with an open mind and no expectation is sometimes the best way to go. It is a small country but offers everything. For those who are tempted to visit the country but are not quite sure what to expect, here are the reasons why you may fall in love with Cambodia. It is a true gem in Asia. The information in this article is based on my first-hand experience traveling around Phnom Penh.
Temples. I am not a huge temple fan but I am glad I was able to see some of them. They are picturesque. Angkor Wat is the most touristy part of the country but are there many wonderful temples too in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia is super cheap. In Cambodia, US Dollars are widely used. It’s common to buy beer in a bar for 50 cents, a short tuk tuk ride is about a dollar, a few dollars can get you a nice restaurant meal.
Food. Exploring the flavours of Cambodia is essential, from the country’s signature fish amok to beef lok lak.
World’s Best Pepper is grown in Kampot, Cambodia. Where have you been all my life? Thanks to my Cambodian media friends who informed me that they have the world’s best pepper. It is produced in green, black, white and red varieties. Now that I have discovered this, its intense flavor adds now a bit of the exotic to my culinary repertoire.
Easy to get around . You can get around on foot in the towns, but Tuk tuks and motor bike taxis are everywhere if you need them. I used PassApp during my stay there. That is Cambodia’s transportation App that allows you to book a tuk tuk, car or taxi. Like most countries in South East Asia, Grab taxi service is available in Cambodia and is popular with both travellers and locals alike. However,Pass App generally seemed to be cheaper than Grab.
Silk Island. Named because of its traditional silk-weaving communities. The atmosphere on Silk Island is peaceful. It is an island in the Mekong River, north of the capital of Phnom Penh. It’s an easy day trip destination without having to travel too far from the busy city. You can purchase locally made products in the island from bed linens and table runners to gowns, scarves, shirts, and ties.
History. You will have a mixed emotions discovering Cambodia’s history, from the glorious days of Angkor Wat, to the horrific Khmer Rouge Regime (The Genocide Museum and the killing fields) happened between 1975 and 1979 in which one and a half to three million people were killed. My heart was heavy after a half day tour, leaving with a lot to think about. This part of the history can feel depressing but it is important to learn and how the people have come back from those dreadful times is inspiring.
Cambodian Gem Stones. Located in the maze of the Russian Market. The stones are so attractive, affordable and authentic.
The Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Poung), is located in the southern part of Cambodia’s capital city. It is an excellent place offering the largest selection of souvenirs and other items of interest to the visitor.
And most of all…..
PEOPLE. Khmers are modest people, who also know the meaning of the word respect and hold it in high regard. They are very friendly, welcoming, kind and honest too. I remember when I was with my Cambodian media friends, after a long day at Russian Market we had a snack in Desilk Garden & Eatery. We were busy chatting until we got in the car. Then, there was this waitress running after me and handed my watch. OMG! I left it on the table. As I recall, I dried it up after I washed my hands. Good thing she returned it to me. The watch is so precious because it was given to me by my husband. I felt so relieved. I looked at my friend and she simply uttered, Sister….this is CAMBODIA. Awww, there you go. My heart melts.
It’s hard to explain but there’s just something really special about Cambodia that captures a part of many visitors’ hearts.
Have you been to Cambodia? Did you love it as much as I do? Feel free to share your thoughts.