Travel Diaries- Cambodia

-Sanjana

Recently, I went to Cambodia along with my family for around four days .In this blog post, I wish to tell you, and show you a glimpse of our trip.

Cambodia is a south-east Asian country sharing borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. We went to Siem Reap, a city where the famous Angkor Wat temple is located. In our brief trip, we visited many ancient temple ruins, museums, watched cultural performances, shopped at the night market and made memories for life.

Day 1:

When we landed at the Siem Reap Airport, it was still day time, so after checking into our hotel and a brief lunch, we decided to seize the day and headed to the Cambodian Cultural Village (CCV). The CCV encompasses 10 unique miniature villages which represent the different cultural heritages of Cambodia, along with their traditional dance performances. These performances set the audience into peals of laughter, and although the performances were predominantly in the Khmer language, they were still quite entertaining to me! We could not visit all the places in the itinerary due to time crunch, but managed to visit the wax museum.

Day 2:

The second day we left early in the morning (5.30 am) to catch a glimpse of the sun rising at the Angkor Wat temple. We entered the Angkor Archaeological Park (stretching 400 sq. km) and made our way to Angkor Wat via a Tuk-Tuk (a carriage pulled by a two wheeled motor vehicle). Side note:  In hot and humid Cambodia, Tuk-Tuk are the best way to get around for short distances because of the flowing breeze throughout the journey. Coming back to the sunrise at Angkor Wat, it was simply surreal- a real Wow moment.

We then explored the mysterious temple of Smiling Buddhas- The Bayon temple, the Tomb raider temple- Ta Promh, and other ruins like Banteay Kdei and Preah Khan, all partially reclaimed by the jungle. I was struck by how vast the complex was and yet, how every minute corner of the temple was intricately carved and sculpted.

Day 3:

After a hectic and quite exhausting day 2, we kept it fairly laid back on day 3, when we visited the River of a Thousand Lingas. We also visited a Buddhist pilgrimage site Phnom Kulen Mountain, and dipped our feet into the cool waters in a nearby waterfall area.

At night we visited the Night Market in Siem Reap, and I think we made some pretty good bargains, and bought some really nice t-shirts and a bandana. We had already bought a few things in the small roadside shops surrounding the different monuments at pretty good prices. We also got to eat a lot of the local cuisine at the Night Market, which I will show you in the food section below.

Day 4:

On our last day of sightseeing, we decided to visit two museums- the Angkor National museum and the War Museum. Both of them will be extremely treasured experiences, although with complete contrasts. The Angkor National museum showcases the Khmer culture and helps us understand more of the magnificent ancient history of Cambodia, while the War museum is about a more recent and darker past. While one museum talks about the pride of Cambodia- with the empire that built the Angkor Wat, the other museum speaks of horrid memories of war that Cambodia is trying to move on from.

That evening we watched another set of traditional dance performances- traditional fisherman, harvesting performances as well as the Apsara dance- a traditional graceful Khmer dance form depicted on all ancient the temple walls.

Food:

Cambodian cuisine is a mix of different influences, and is predominantly rice based. Most of the dishes that we ate were that of Cambodian sticky rice, along with some curry, usually really tasty, but sometimes a bit too sweet for my liking. There were also noodle soups and strange creatures. I did not find any bugs though, although I read about Cambodian cuisine including fire ants.  Cambodian cuisine doesn’t favour vegetarians, and my mother, who happens to be vegetarian, had to survive on fruits and milkshakes. There were many unique fruits there- we ate dragon fruit, tasted durian flavoured ice cream and milkshake, and also a passion fruit smoothie which was fabulous.

Our Cambodian trip was a really beautiful travel experience. The Cambodian people are really sweet and kind, and despite their limited English knowledge, they try very hard to make sure that we get what we needed. We headed back home refreshed, with the taste of Khmer food on our tongues, the breeze of Tuk-Tuk rides in our hair and the sights of the beautiful tree covered temple ruins in our hearts.

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Disclaimer: I am a very amateur photographer, and don’t have any fancy equipment, but I like to take pictures. 😛

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Thank you for reading this blog post. I would love to hear your feedback!

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