If you’re reading this you’re probably a lot cleverer than I am because I went to Cambodia just because my visa in Thailand was expiring and because I knew that Angkor Wat was meant to be something so painfully beautiful. At least this was what people at my hostels had told me. Aside from this I knew nothing of the history although I wish I did and had bitten the bullet and gotten a Lonley Planet guide where I could begin to understand the pain Cambodians have experienced in the not-too-distant past.
My first experience with Cambodia, felt like a scam, which I’ll write about later but it got better. I found my hostel through my tuktuk driver’s guidance and plans were made for the following morning. I was meant to wake early to go to Angkor Wat but I slept through my alarm, which I thought was fair enough as I’d just been through over 24 hours of travel. If I return to Cambodia I’ll be sure to have enough sleep to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat.
1. Angkor Wat.
The most beautiful Wat in Cambodia and arguably in South East Asia is popular to be seen over the sunrise where you’ll find hoards of backpackers and shutterbugs trying to push through to get that beautiful snap. Or you can go during the day, listn to some music and have a conversation with Cambodia’s ghosts. You can see Desi deities throughout the temple as it was built and then forgotten when Cambodia was India and subsequently after. It’s beautiful and should not be missed. Just be sure to bring water, sunscreen and money for food. Sadly Gwen Stefani’s help won’t be needed here because that shit isn't B-A-N-A-N-A-S as Cambodians believe that banana trees allow ghosts to come into their homes. Maybe when you’re talking to the ghosts ask why bananas, I never got to.
2. The Killing Fields.
Speaking of ghosts, Cambodia has a very tragic history that should never be ignored. In fact, Cambodians have made their very recent horrific experiences into a tourist destination. Not to take selfies at like some tourists might but so we can all acknowledge what true suffering people went through and so that it may never happen again. If you ignore a problem or don't face it head on it is the same as acting as if it never happened so Cambodians offer this somber but important place as a tourist destination. Don't miss it. Be respectful and go.
3. Play with local children
Cambodian children seem to be different from Thai kids because they come with a little edge but the same goofiness and playful nature that all kids do. It’s worth your while and theirs to play a game. Maybe one of theirs or teach them one you knew. Sometimes it’s just nice to play with the happiest of humans when you’re feel bogged down by the weight of history and the pain of a country. Just be sure that their parents are alright with it first.
4. Beach party.
I’m not much of a beach person - I burn too fast to stay long but everyone can enjoy a party on the beach, I’ve figured. Surprising, eh? Ok maybe not but I’ve never been to a beach party before and had a great time. After your classic backpacker party where people I had met along the way had too much 'happy' food I crashed a five year old's birthday party. His parents taught me a Cambodian dance and we laughed about my lack of rhythm and our language barrier which was an experience that you could only have in Cambodia and totally worth it! While Otres 1 is the more populace beach, I stayed on Otres 2 near Sihanoukville, which by the way could not have a more complicated name to pronounce. No one is sure how to say it. I called it 'see-anne-ou-k-ville' but I'm also sure that's wrong. I guess it's party of the fun of this beautiful country.
5. Island Hop
My favourite time in Cambodia was when I left main land and went to Koh Rong Island where I stayed at Bunna's Place Hostel which was easily the most fun experience I'd had in this country due to the owners party life personality. Don't go if you want your liver to relax, basically. With jaegerbombs and shot guns replacing your meals and fruit shakes in between it makes to be a fun experience especially when you hike from one side to another but don't wear flip flops like I did. I seriously regretted that choice. My feet were aching! Still a few travel scars never does a person much harm because it's proof of a story. It's the O.G. 'pics or it didn't happen'. We all like some good O.G.s too so it might as well be travel related.