Imagine flying over an expanse of green, luscious fields covered in water, interrupted only by rivers, wooden and tin huts on stilts and an occasional dirt or rudimentary paved road. No factories, not even any farm equipment...just water buffalo. This was the sight we saw as we circled over
We landed in Siem Reap and were all a bit unsure what to make of our new surroundings. The group we were with for this pre-cruise trip consisted of six people. My parents and I, a couple (Jeremy and Rosemary) from
Back to the trip....we were picked up by our guide and brought to our hotel, The Raffles Grand d'Ankor. The hotel was built back in the 1920's and retains the same architecture and charm of a hotel of that decade (although remodeled and with AC). It was like stepping back in time. Apparently Jackie Kennedy was one of the first visitors of this hotel, and I can understand why. Our first evening was just a relaxing one...we explored the grounds and the spa. All of us ended up getting massages....an 85 minute massage was only $50! And it was fabulous as you can imagine.
The Cambodian people were the nicest people I have ever met. And this is shocking considering that this is the poorest country I have ever seen. An average annual salary is $300 per year, but most people make much less than that. However, everyone was wonderful and so nice and beyond accommodating.
We spent three days touring the temples of Ankor, which were fascinating. We learned all about the Hindu and Buddhist influences and walked through countless temples and tombs. I'm sorry to say it, but if you've seen "Tomb Raider", this is really what it's like.
The Cambodian cuisine was equally as wonderful....tandoori and curry foods, Ankor beer, (we even had lunch in the Ankor cafe, sipping Ankor beers, in front of Ankor Wat, in the Ankor region). One evening we had a Cambodian barbecue....outside with all sorts of regional foods and then traditional dancing by the local Cambodian people. It was fascinating. The only caveat to the trip was the heat and humidity....we showered some days four times because we would just be sitting there at a temple sopping wet. 90 degrees and I swear 300% humidity! I'm almost getting used to it at this point!
From Siem Reap we traveled by plan to Phom Penh....a much more industrialized city. There were actual car lanes and a few street lights (lacking in Siem Reap). No McD's, Starbucks, etc. anywhere as there is in
Last night we were taken from our hotel by "cyclo" to a restaurant on the
All in all...one of the most fantastic countries I have ever visited. A place I would suggest for a honeymoon to anyone our age...relaxing but still with a lot of culture to experience. Despite the poverty, both my dad and I agree that this country is up and coming. Worth a look if you are considering investing in