The most memorable experiences of our two-week tour through Cambodia were the beautiful beaches, the visit of the fantastic temples of Angkor Wat, and the encounter with the terrible history of the country under the regime of the Khmer Rouge.
Since we had not been to the sea for a long time, we took the chance for a few days over New Year to relax on the beautiful beaches of Cambodia. From our little hut directly on the beach it was only a few meters to the water. We went for walks on the beach; we were sailing and we simply had a very relaxing time at the sea.
Our next stop was Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. It’s a nice and fast developing city, but with a terrible history. We visited one of the mass execution sites, the so called Killing Fields, which are now a memorial, where the Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot killed more than 2 million people (some say up to 3 million). At least a quarter (or a third) of the Cambodian population lost their life during this time – mainly the intellectual and better educated people of the cities. Many also starved to death, or died due to the heavy labor they were forced to on the fields.
We were really shocked by what we saw during our visit to the Killing Fields near Phnom Penh. The massacre that took place here between 1975 and 1978 is hard to believe. Woman, children, men were killed on a daily basis with a terrible routine – and sometimes in an extremely cruel manner. We still cannot understand how humans are able to do such horrible things; and we don’t understand why almost all of the responsible people, including Pol Pot, were never put in front of a court for their crimes. A haunting place that shows the darkest side of humans….
After Phnom Penh we went to Siem Reap, where we visited the temples of Angkor Wat – a fantastic highlight of the whole trip despite the many tourists that visit the place every day. However, the temples are spread over such a huge area that you can still find some quieter spots without many people. We actually liked the temples most that were right in the jungle, with big trees growing out of the crumbling walls. We got lost between walls, reliefs, pillars, and narrow passages at those places sometimes for hours, gaping at the enormous trees with their massive roots trying to claim the place back for the jungle. For us it was also great that we could take the motorcycles to get from one temple to the next: it was a fantastic experience to ride through such awesome scenery.
What else is there to say about Cambodia? Well, the people are very friendly, the traffic is not too bad, and outside of the cities the roads are very quiet. The main routes are in very good condition, and prices are still cheap. We had only two weeks to discover this beautiful country, which is still not very touristy – apart from Angkor Wat. And there is still so much more to discover….