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Quick stop in Cambodia


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

Traveling always makes me step out of my comfort zone. It makes me do things differently than I do at home. I feel comfortable to just go places alone, I become much more willing to approach complete strangers and strike up a conversation and make new friends. It allows me plan less, it helps me go with the flow (ok, so I still suck at this, but it actually makes me TRY to go with the flow), and feel so much more spontaneous. It makes me grow. But upon reaching Cambodia.. it also made me panic a little bit. I realized that the total lack of planning meant that I would have to rush through a few of the next places in Southeast Asia. Meaning I would miss things.. but also feel that much more motivated to come back! So in my quick 5 days in Cambodia, I managed to take in the major highlights.
First up was the ruins of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap.
It was a very early morning with a group from the hostel to take in this beautiful sunrise...

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We took a tour that visited a few other temples and we also went back to the main temple in the daylight...

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It was nice to see the difference between morning and day!

After crossing one of the main bridges..

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Our second temple was Bayon, a huge complex with many towers of carved faces..

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It was so neat to be able to climb all through the temple, as well as some steep steps for a great view...

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We could also do some climbing at Ta Keo, stop #3..

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The fourth temple may have been my favourite. Ta Prohm is full of trees growing into the temple...

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Last stop was Bantay Kdei...

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The ruins of Angkor Wat were amazing, the beauty exceeded my expectation and the peace and tranquility throughout the whole place was amazing!
I also enjoyed some time exploring local restaurants, the market and tourist area in Siem Reap with friends from the hostel before heading to the next destination... Phnom Penh.

There are less exciting pictures to share when it comes to Phnom Penh. The main draw for visitors is a trip to the Killing Fields and the S-21 Prison. And these were without a doubt the most intense, heart wrenching, and awful places I have visited. Before arriving, I had limited knowledge of Cambodia's 1975-1979 genocide. There was so much to learn about the civil war, the association with the Vietnam war and corresponding conflicts in Indochina, and the culmination in the genocide, one of the bloodiest in history. It's horrible to hear about, a difficult place to visit, but also a must do when spending time in Cambodia. I encourage everyone to do a little reading about it if you have the time. The memorials set up outside Phnom Penh are eery but beautiful...

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Above is the stupa at the Choeung Ek killing fields, below is the memorial at the S-21 Genocide museum stating "never will we forget the crimes committed during the Democratic Kampuchea regime"...

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The audio guides at both stop were incredibly informative. When describing the S-21 museum, the narrator said something that will stick with me forever.. "The courtyard is pretty and peaceful, but there is nothing pretty inside." It made me think about the way these events are seen from outside countries. We often don't know the full magnitude of the tragedies in genocides or civil wars until it is too late. We look inside and we see how ugly it really is or was. I really appreciated the opportunity to be present and bear witness to all that happened in Cambodia's recent history.

There are many other places in Cambodia that I would have loved to see but alas, I just didn't have enough time. As I know I have a lifelong curse of the travel bug... maybe I'll be back someday!

Posted by elliehirch 05:13 Archived in Cambodia

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