Our trip to Cambodia following the One Young World Summit was amazing! Siem Reap is beautiful and the people are so warm and welcoming. Here is a brief look at the 4 days we spent there:
We made it to Angkor Wat by 5:30am so that we could watch the sunrise. This temple complex was built in the early 12th century. It began as a Hindu temple, but transitioned to a Buddhist temple by the 13th century. After sunrise, our tuk tuk driver, Heng, brought us to Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm before anyone else was there. Walking through these temples in the jungle before anyone else was there is an experience I’ll never forget. For all of the night owls out there, you’d love the Night Market and Pub Street.
Heng picked us up to take us to Kampong Phluk (otherwise known as “the floating village”). Once we got to the river of the Tonle Sap, we took a boat ride further down the water to see these incredible houses on stilts. Considering that climate change was fresh on our minds from the One Young World Summit, I couldn’t help but think about how vulnerable these people are to the effects of climate change. Their lives depend on this river and lake. If the rainfall is greater than expected, their homes flood. If the rainfall is less than expected, they won’t have the resources they need to survive. My sister, Heng, and I decided to go for an impromptu swim in the Tonle Sap Lake. Thankfully, we didn’t run into any alligators. In the evening we went to see traditional Aspara dancing. So beautiful!
We did an ATV tour outside of Siem Reap. The countryside of Cambodia is gorgeous! I’ve never seen so much green in December. We then went to see Phare the Cambodian Circus. This was a great cultural experience, as well as social venture. All performers in the circus come from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds. Phare supports the Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO School and provides training and employment to its students. Many businesses and organizations within Siem Reap use tourism as a means to build up the community, so as long as you do your research, your vacation money can have a positive impact. It’s also really easy to find vegetarian cuisine there! Heng then took us to the Water Festival in the town’s center.
We took it easy around the hotel before catching our flight back to Bangkok. The staff at the Mullberry Boutique are so kind and accommodating. Pon was especially helpful in giving us tips on how to navigate the town. We took Heng out for dinner as a way to say “thank you” for being our guide and making our trip so special. Needless to say, we’re going to miss him a lot.