The many faces of Cambodia. This of course isn’t just true of Cambodia, but I think it is more pronounced in this country.
A 4 year regime that wiped out almost all of the educated Khmer people, has taken the country back centuries, meaning poverty is now rife. The seedy undertone to the country and severe poverty now means pretty much anything is for sale, including children (!!) and the opportunity to hunt & kill a Khmer local if one has the money and inclination (!!).
This side of Cambodia is seen by the ever more tourists that pour into the country, but is often ignored as not to ruin their fun. Leading me onto the second face of Cambodia… The hedonistic side.
Cambodia is without a doubt a party country for the bus loads of backpackers that follow the ‘banana pancake’ trail that heads through Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, with the latter being nicknamed ‘sinville’, down to its sick beach party nights, endless free or cheap drinks, drugs, & hookers.
You have to turn a very blind eye not to see the dirty underbelly of Sihanoukville, and it takes a lot to not see the poverish 5+ year old Khmer children begging, or selling their wares on the beach in the early hours of the morning.
The poor underage Khmer prostitutes almost outnumber the tourists past midnight on the beach, hoping for a ‘John’ for the evening so they can feed their kids!… It’s a terrible sight, and one you really cannot ignore. But on we go, partying and enjoying ourselves in a land where anything goes.
There are 2-3 main bars on fondly named serendipity beach in Sihanoukville, Dolphin Shack & JJs are by far the most outrageous on the party front, and then a more low key bar called Sessions run by some northern English lads, all selling pretty anything (!!) you want to keep your party going.
Dolphin Shack runs a booze cruise either weekly or bi-weekly (I’m not sure) which, my friends, is just carnage! I honestly cannot say I ever seen anything so messy, unsafe and outright hedonistic in my life! I don’t know who was in charge but I seriously can’t believe no one died!
And then there is the truly happy/nice/serene side of Cambodia that you’ll find in places like Kampot & Kep on the south coast. Mellow and full of the happy everyday Khmer people just going about their business, pretty much back on their feet after the recent devastating history.
And of course, this would not be a complete post about Cambodia if I didn’t mention the epicness of Angkor Wat. The 7th Wonder of the World which is surrounded by a 2.2mile long moat. I loved seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise BUT I have to say Bayon (the one with all the faces) is my favourite!
I love this country, you can find pretty much anything and everything here, including an abundance of awesome friends! It gets under your skin in a way that you cannot explain, but that everyone that has visited just ‘gets’…it’s magic!
Have you been to Cambodia? Do you know what I mean when I say it gets ‘under your skin’??