We crossed the border into Cambodia over land with a 10 minute walk through a sort of no-mans-land. The wild and uncertain border crossing into this country is well worth it though.
Cambodia has much to offer. From Angkor Wat (an ancient wonder of the world and UNESCO World Heritage Site), incredible scenery, bustling markets, great food, white beaches, cocktail bars and some of the most warm and kind people I have ever met. People are welcoming and they want to talk to you. They are incredibly resilient, positive and hardworking. All of this is amazing, especially if you consider what happened to them only 40 years ago under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. If you do not know about the Cambodian genocide, you can read about it here.
On our visit to the country we visited both the former S21 prison (a former Kmer Rouge torture and execution center) and the one of the killing field sites in Phnom Penh, where an estimated 1.3 million people were killed during the genocide. I have never in my life visited such harrowing places. At the killing fields bones appear from the ground, still with clothing on them. At S21 many of the torture rooms remain as they were. There is blood on the floor, scrapes and marks all over the walls. The beds prisoners were chained to and tortured on remain. The sculls of the people who died at these sites are also present.
The Cambodians are not hiding anything here and however horrific these places are I greatly admire the courage the Cambodians have to be respectful and honest, and teach the world about what happened to them and try to prevent it from ever happening again.
Cambodia in 2019 is a growing country and I hope its vulnerability does not get taken advantage of yet again. China’s influence and development here is massive. Buying up, bull-dozing, and building their own mega hotels and bizarre casino resorts. I hope Cambodia will not loose its own identity as a result of this.
There is something about Cambodia that pulls you in, a true kindness and openness in the people, ancient culture and beautiful landscapes. There is something about Cambodia that has me excited to return.