11th March 2011
It is no secret among my friends and family that I am quite in love with Cambodia. This one sided romance is older even than my real life romance and has infiltrated my academic studies on nearly every level. Since my first visit some five years ago, I have vowed with teary eyes to return. Yet I never did. As I stepped off the aeroplane this time, my excitement was in danger of suffocating Chris, not a good start.
Oh Phnom Penh! Pink blossoms timidly sprouted from the trees aesthetically lining the water front and the sky exploded in a vibrant display of fuchsia and lilac hues. I grinned from ear to ear as strolled hand in hand past evening exercisers and parents chasing their giggling children. It was great to be here. It is a wonder that Chris restrained himself from any form of wife beating as I must have proven to be the most irritating travel companion in Cambodia. ‘It’s changed so much’, ‘it wasn’t like that last time’, ‘do you love Cambodia, I love Cambodia’ became the only words exiting my gob that I even began to annoy myself.
I don’t feel like I can write well about Cambodia without gushing hopelessly; stating obvious economic and social changes to a country suddenly on the package tour map; droning like a less knowledgeable version of your old history teacher about Khmer cultural heritage; or getting on my soap box about the human rights violations that plague this scarred country. Cambodia is a subject so close to my heart and I am too inept a writer to take a step back and just flitter over it with my usual gleeful superficial impressions.
So I could tell you about the incredible people with their contagious smiles and chirpy sense of humour, about the human remains poking through the dusty soil of the Choeung Ek killing field or about the glorious marriage of stone and roots that occupy Angkor Archaeological Park. In our fleeting visit Chris gorged on history, we soaked up the atmosphere, giggled with tuk tuk drivers, ‘humphed’ at pitiful sights, weaved in and out of tourist hordes, clambered over temples and played war games with semi-naked ankle biters.
Go to Cambodia and see for yourself, with care, consideration and love for a remarkable country and it’s exceptional people.
I will let Chris’s stunning photographs do the talking.