My trip to Cambodia for my 30th birthday, almost 10 years later, still remains one of my favorite holidays. Being in a country with peaceful kind people, monks peeking around corners when you least expect it and striking ancient temples coupled with a brutal history that makes your heart ache took the focus of aging away and let me see what time really does for things – heals and makes them beautiful. I couldn’t think of anywhere better to spend a special moment in time.
As I look ahead to my next milestone birthday, I took a trip down memory lane and wanted to share some of these amazing images with you. Come join me as we tour Cambodia in photos.
Phnom Penh was a surprise for us. A thriving city with underpinnings of Buddhist serenity coexisting alongside remnants of the torturous history of the Khmer Rouge. Spending time shopping for pirated DVDs at the beautiful art deco building Psai Thmei and soaking up gold with the classic buddhist architecture of the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda were just some of the things to keep you occupied.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & The Killing Fields
One of the most heartbreaking places to visit in Phnom Penh is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields outside of town. It is a must visit to get a first hand view of the torture people in this beautiful country endured for so long. If you haven’t read anything about the Khmer Rouge or the Killing Fields, do it now. Absolutely heart breaking, but a piece of history that needs to be known.
To experience life on the water, take a day to spend on the Tonle Sap. In this “village”, the streets are water and the houses float. On Cambodia’s ‘Great Lake’, life revolves around the water. It is fascinating to see how life operates as it would on dry land with schools (seen below), kids playing, women working in the house and men out catching fish for sale or dinner.
Temples of Angkor
Angkor Wat is what most visitors arrive to Cambodia to see. It is spectacular and worthy of making a visit to the country just to see them, but there is so much more as well. During our time visiting the temples around Angkor, what we fell in love with more than the spectacular scenery were the people. The local Cambodian people were always full of smiles and such a joy to photograph. They were just as curious about us as we were about them. Often the language barrier allowed us only snippets of conversation, but just seeing their expressive smiles and feeling a genuine welcome was enough for us to fall in love.
Driving from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and back provided us time to check out daily life within the cities and in the countryside. Regardless of what people were doing, it was always with a smile. The other constant was Buddhism. No matter where you turned, you would find an alter or shrine set up to honor Buddha. The air permeated with the incense, so you always smelled one before you saw it. Even today, those incense remind me of this beautiful country.
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