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Personal experiences in Cambodia

Posted by lennybruce on 6/7/2008 at 23:15

I made my first, and certainly not my last, trip to Cambodia last year. I was in Malaysia on family holiday so I limited myself to six days in Siem Reap to see the temples and to spend 2.5 days doing some light voluntourism. In those six days I was incredibly moved by the indomitable spirit of the Cambodian people. In those six days I also became close with my tuk tuk driver and his family.

I wrote 2 articles on my experiences there if you would like to see things through my eyes before you go:

"Welcome to Cambodia" and "Give and You Shall Receive" which you can access at http://www.thru-other-eyes.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/10/index.html

I have also recently started to help my friend the tuk tuk driver with his business by getting a website going and advertising for him on Google etc as an experiment. So If you are going and need a driver, I got a great one for you. Check out www.angkortuktuk.org if you want.

#1 lennybruce has been a member since 6/7/2008. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 38
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Posted by Ciara77 on 23/7/2008 at 15:30

Hi... Will be working in Siem Reap for 4 weeks in Jan and plan to spend the next four travelling through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos - any advice on where to go, what to avoid, what to do, places to stay, what to book in advance etc?? Anything will be helpful,, :)

#2 Ciara77 has been a member since 23/7/2008. Posts: 1


Posted by lennybruce on 23/7/2008 at 20:20

Hi Ciara,

I must admit that my experience is limited to Siem Reap/Angkor Wat. You should try posting in some of the other forums. I am envious that you will be working in SR for 4 weeks though... you doing some volunteer work or your normal job there. I will be going back there in September and can't wait.

regards!

#3 lennybruce has been a member since 6/7/2008. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 38
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Posted by JuliaSrilanka on 14/8/2008 at 22:45

Just back from a one week trip to Siem Reap, I want to share a few things with all interested in travelling there: the border ar Aranyaprathet is still a horrible place to be, where poverty strikes within the half-legal casino ambience; where border clerks are still trying hard to make you pay more for the Visa... Seldom I had such an uncomfortable entry into a country!
The road from Poipet to Siem Reap is, under the Greater Mekong Subregion project, still to be paved. There are strips paved but most is still in a terrible condition, and the 3,5 hour taxi ride is the least pleasurable trip .
In town, I can jsut highly recommend the following safe and peaceful places:
the Singing Tree and Butterflies. Great food and some nice community projects ongoing.
Something like this is missing elsewhere, i.e. in Chiang Mai.
We took advantage of the "stay-another-day" brochure and thus went for a massage by blind people at the school on the road to the ruins, donated blood to the Anghor Children hospital, and tried to check out the others- not easy to find, though.
All the time we went around by push-bikes, always in mind to reduce our carbon foodprint... more or less. The flight back to BKK was certainly not justified from that point of view.
Nor was the fresh towels every day at the "Les Orientalists" guesthouse - the most beautiful rooms/suite in a nice street, close to the Saveasna Center. They serve delicious French food; the coffee is just la la. But still ahead of the just newly opend "Ombrelle & Kimono" close by.
And certainly classes better than the more than primtive "Palm Garden Lodge" or the Dutch-run "Lotus Lodge", a chick-farm style hotel complex in the north-east with not nice food, and just Nescafé! Worst here was the intensive smell of the next door pig farm (!!) especially night times. So you have to sleep with closed windows and ac, and flee as quickly as possible the next morning - despite the nice pool. And despite they are listed on the "Heritagewatch.org" website, an initiative to preserve the world heritage site of Angkor. I am just wondering how the helicopter-flights promoted, and other non-ecological offers do line up with the wider, holistic concept of sustainable lifestyle and responsible travelling...?
We explored the ruines of Angkor by push bike: long rides, all plane, through forests, through rains, but enjoyable. Leave the tuk-tuks behind, and get a sense of the quite nature out there!
The center of town is a bustling tourism and club scene - do we really look for that? a tourist-only street, where just gabbage-collecting children and begging mothers mix under the posh crowed.
The outgoing roads are all crowded by ever more, huge hotel complexes - for tens of thousands or guest...

I want to recommend to everybody to check the local initiatives to make your tourism experience something more than shopping and clubbing .
Siem Reap is cetainly worth it - and we should all help to make the local people benefit from our desire to see the ruins of their ancestors! Be a responsible traveller, and make a difference by supporting local people and organizations!

#4 JuliaSrilanka has been a member since 14/8/2008. Posts: 1


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