Asia, a land of wonders - these are my thoughts, experiences and travel tips from SE Asia


Cambodia country map

They say there is a magic about Cambodia that casts a spell on many who visit this charming kingdom. Ascend to the realm of the Gods at the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat, a spectacular fusion of symbolism, symmetry and spirituality. Descend into the hell of Tuol Sleng and come face to face with the Khmer Rouge and its killing machine. Welcome to Cambodia: a country with a history both inspiring and depressing, an intoxicating place where the future is waiting to be shaped.

My trips starts a few years back when I was traveling from Thailand to Laos and down to Cambodia. Entering the country on the north side at the Laos border there is nothing much to see except nature 100%, forest, clean air and unpaved forest road. The border features a couple of wood bungalows and quite a few (many) fully armed guards. A bit scary of you ask me. They look at our passports for about 2 minutes without making any noise: I could hear the beautiful songs of the birds while seeing the hard metal of the rifles and other guns.

We were allowed to enter the country which was the first "oh yes!" then we continue the journey in a van, the same van only that it picked up a few more passengers - they were sitting on top of the car as well along with a few bags.

Late afternoon we arrived into a small town with nothing to much in it, a few houses, dust, semi-paved roads. Van drop us in front of a small hotel which featured a open air restaurant and then the driver informed us that his van is broken and he can not drive us to Phon Penh as per original deal - which, by the way, it was expensive as well. Being abandoned in a small town is bad but being dropped somewhere on the map is even worse. A bit of panic find its way into our minds as the sun was easily going down until a person said "I will call the police right now!" which was a smart move since in 2 minutes the van driver found us a sedan car with a driver to take us to the capital city for free. This was the second "oh yes!" for that day :) and further on we were 6 people + 2 on the driving seat in a Toyota Camry (about 2000 edition). Car is alright, we were just to many in it.

We made our way to Phom Penh and safely started the Cambodia trip , what was worse is behind now so we can enjoy the temples and other attractions in this country.

The great Angkor Wat

Just as Angkor is more than its wat, so too is Cambodia more than its temples. The chaotic yet charismatic capital of Phnom Penh is a hub of political intrigue, economic vitality and intellectual debate. All too often overlooked by hit-and-run tourists ticking off Angkor on a regional tour, the revitalised city of Siem Reap is finally earning plaudits in its own right thanks to a gorgeous riverside location, a cultural renaissance, and a dining and drinking scene to rival the best in the region. And don’t forget the rest of the country: relax in the sleepy seaside town of Kampot and trek the nearby Bokor National Park; take an elephant ride in the jungles of Mondulkiri Province; ogle the Mekong dolphins at Kratie or simply choose a beach near Sihanoukville.

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh may be the main attractions, but to some extent they are a bubble, a world away from the Cambodia of the countryside. This is the place to experience the rhythm of rural life and timeless landscapes of dazzling rice paddies and swaying sugar palms. Spend some time in the srok (provinces), as Cambodians call them, enjoying a dar leng (walkabout) to discover the true flavour of the country.