It was a short six days but a memorable six days. We regret not doing more research beforehand about what a great country Cambodia is. We would have stayed longer and perhaps seen more of the country instead of seeing it as a thoroughfare between Vietnam and Thailand. Alas, we can only learn from our mistakes and we’ll definitely return one day. And even still, there is a lot to take home with us:
It’s hard to call it a ‘highlight’ because it wasn’t exactly a happy and joyful experience, but learning about the Cambodian genocide was the most important thing we’ll take away from Cambodia. Both the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum did a great job at educating and leaving a lasting impact on us. We talked about our visits for days afterwards and we’ll no doubt have more conversations in the future. Although heartbreaking, it was an experience that will stay with us always.
Angkor Wat and all the surrounding temples and ruins were busy but definitely not overrated at all. There’s a reason the site is a World Wonder.
If we have to pick one overrated feature, we might go with the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Maybe it’s our own fault for not doing a bit a research beforehand but we just didn’t ‘get it’ other than the beautiful architecture. We should have followed our own advice when visiting the Forbidden City in China and gotten a guide to take us through. The little tidbits we overheard from the guided tours were interesting and may have made our visit a little more worthwhile.
Most Unexpected Moment
There was a moment while in the back of a tuk-tuk where a motorbike pulled up beside us with a pile (almost as tall as the driver) of recently skinned buffalo skulls. We weren’t expecting it, that’s for sure. But the most surprising was when we were following a guided map on our motorbike and still ended up lost in the jungle on very narrow, very bumpy path. At this point, we should just be expecting stuff like this to happen.
We stayed at a party hostel in Siem Reap (don’t ask us why) and confirmed that we are indeed past that time in our lives. It never really stood a chance to make this list. That leaves the The Bright Lotus Guesthouse. We were on the fifth floor with no elevator, but after climbing five flights of stairs every day for eight months in China, it was a no problem for us. We had an amazing view of a beautiful park across the street and the room was spacious with a rustic (but not too rustic) feel. The super friendly staff made our days there very enjoyable.
Which Place Would You Visit Again
We would go back to both cities in a heartbeat but we’re going to pick Phnom Penh. Siem Reap was amazing and the vibe of the city was more up our alley but we feel like we accomplished what we wanted to and spent a good amount of time taking in the goings-on. We didn’t even scratch the surface of Phnom Penh. There was so much more to see and experience that we regret not giving it more thought in preparation of our trip. There was way more food to eat and way more neighbourhoods to explore.
Until next time..
Check out our most recent post from Southeast Asia about our visit to Angkor Wat.