A trip down memory lane and beyond - Cambodia

(Image courtesy of Sanjay Tiwari)

2nd March 2021

By Tarini Tiwari

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been on two long-haul flights. All the obvious safety risks aside, long-distance travel with masks, quarantines and incessant sanitizing is arduous and cancels out any excitement one might have once felt while on a plane. So, as we anxiously await a summer of freedom, I’m looking back on one of my favourite holidays of all time: Cambodia.

I went to Cambodia in 2013, which doesn’t feel like it was as long ago as it really was. It was such a fun vacation that it feels as though I was just there. We split the two-week trip across Siem Reap and Pnomh Penh, the nation’s capital. Siem Reap is a very historical town, full of some of the oldest standing temples in the world. One of the most famous ones, Angkor Wat, is on the Cambodian flag! Siem Reap can feel quite touristy as one has to buy a pass to see all the temples. However, what I really appreciated about our trip was we managed to see so many historical sites without it feeling tacky or too planned.

(Images courtesy of Sanjay Tiwari)

I remember we went to a village that sits on the river. We had a guide and couldn’t pick where we went since we weren’t exactly driving the boat ourselves, but we got to speak to locals and learn about Cambodian life post-dictatorship. The Pol Pot regime resulted in the genocide of much of the population and ruined the country economically. It’s necessary to fuel the economy by visiting the country and engaging in tourist activities there, but one can do so while also learning about its less palatable history.

(Image courtesy of Sanjay Tiwari)

Another amazing temple in Siem Reap was Ta Promh, and I really enjoyed it because it was smaller and less crowded. It also started raining while we were there which was such a respite after baking in the sun all morning.

(Image courtesy of Sanjay Tiwari)

In Pnomh Penh, we stayed at the Kabiki hotel which was right by the river. This was the half of the trip we dedicated to relaxing. We’d walk to nearby restaurants, including the Foreign Correspondents’ Club by the riverside. Most of the week was spent exploring the neighbourhood and lazing by the pool, taking in the warm July sun.

A really wonderful part about Cambodia is the way the country has rallied together to rebuild itself as a democratic nation. Charities like Friends have focused on employing and rehabilitating displaced citizens, and alleys in Siem Reap are full of local craftspeople selling their wares.

(Image courtesy of Sanjay Tiwari)

Cambodia feels like one of those places that you can explore for a lifetime and still not fully see. I miss it a lot and itch to go back. Until then, however, I’m so glad I have the memories from my first trip.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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