The Kingdom of Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. They are still recovering from the war which lasted for decades under Pol Pot’s regime and also, they still have dishonest government officials.
Today, Cambodia is politically firm, but some of the citizens remain poor and unable to provide for their everyday needs. Despite all of these, Cambodia’s tourism and history is very rich and splendid. You can find beauty in everything, they have phenomenal architecture and happy and contended people.
Summer of 2016, we visited two famous places in Cambodia, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Although Cambodia went through a lot of circumstances (corrupt officials, poverty and some are still recovering from the horrifying genocide that was carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime which was led by Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979) that hindered the country from progressing, it is one of my all-time favorite destinations. The people here are very friendly moreover, the places and tourist spots are incredibly great.
After 8 hours of bus ride from Vietnam, we (together with my sisters) arrived at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia.
We were welcomed by our tour guide (since we availed a Cambodia Tour in Vietnam) with a welcome sign together with my sister’s name which was supposed to be Ma. Monica Chelsea Ballesteros. It was funny but I find it adorable.
After our arrival, our tour guide brought us to lunch. They prepared a very appetizing meal for us.
We went next to our hotel to rest a bit. Not wasting any of our time, on the very same day of our arrival we visited some places around the city.
1. Royal Palace
Wearing proper attire upon entering the Royal Palace (no revealing clothes) is highly implemented. Removing shoes when going inside the building is a must.
2. Wat Phnom
Wat Phnom or the Mountian Pagoda is a Buddhist temple, it is the tallest religious structure in Phnom Penh. It was built in 1372 and stands 27 metres (88.5 ft) above the ground.
3. Independence Monument
This monument was designed by Cambodian architect, Vann Molyvann. This was built to commemorate Cambodia’s independence after almost a century of French colonization.
4. Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk
After visiting these places, we toured around the city and then went back to our hotel.
The next morning, we were ready for our next destination. The two destinations we went to were all about the history of Pol Pot’s Regime. By visiting these places, I learned the rich history of Cambodia, and how tragic and sad their past was. It was heartbreaking.
5. The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields or Choeung Ek is the site of a former orchard and mass grave of victims of the Khmer Rouge. They were all killed between 1975 and 1979.
As you enter the place, you will see a Buddhist Stupa which contains more than 5,000 human skulls. All the skulls were arranged by sex and age, how they were killed and tortured.
You will experience the audio tour where you can hear stories about each of the places you go in the Killing Fields.
6. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
This was the prison used by the Khmer Rouge Regime led by Pol Pot. Inside the buildings, there are different rooms where you can see the cells, beds, and shackles. Tuol Sleng means “Hill of the Poisonous Trees” or “Strychnine Hill”.
The site is a former high school building.
You can also see stories and real photos of the victims. Some foreigners were starved to death, tortured, and killed during this reign of terror.
After visiting the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, I realized how much terror the Cambodian people experienced. Visiting such places should be treated with respect. It was really hard to imagine that this just happened in the 70’s.
In the afternoon, we went to Siem Reap. We traveled via bus to get there.
We arrived at our hotel to rest for the activities and itinerary waiting for us for tomorrow, but before resting, we went for a night swimming to relax and have fun.
It is said that Siem Reap is the gateway for the temples of Angkor. It is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia. There are many beautiful temples to go and we have visited some of them.
- Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat is the best place to visit in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat means “Capital Temple”, “Temple City” or “City of Temples”, it is the largest religious monument in the world.
This place was built between roughly A.D. 1113 and 1150, and encompassing an area of about 500 acres (200 hectares).
Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century.
2. Angkor Thom & Bayon Temple
Bayon was the state temple made by Jayavarman VII, a powerful ruler in the late 13th century.
Bayon Temple is a Buddhist temple.
3. The Baphuon
Is a temple near the Bayon Temple. It was built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.
4. Ta Phrom
Built-in 1186 and originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII.
This is the place where Angelina Jolie’s film TOMB RAIDER was filmed. It is sometimes called the Tree-Eaten Temple.
After the long day of visiting the temples, we went to buy ‘pasalubongs’. It was a long day but worth it.
We went home and rested because tomorrow, we will go and visit Thailand! Stay tuned and know how we experienced Thailand!