It’s always been on my list of places to visit but somehow, year after year, she got left behind as I am enticed by other far flung exotic lands. In my twenties, America and Europe got most of my attention. It was everything I saw on the magazines and movies so I really wanted to experience the wonder for myself. In my thirties, however, it’s Asia that has captured my soul. Asia is so huge and so fascinating, I wonder why I didn’t start exploring more earlier. Singapore might be in South East Asia but we are definitely one of the pampered children in this area of the world.
Cambodia’s unstable politics scared me off from visiting when I was younger but now that I’m older, wiser and less fearful of stepping into unknown territories, I just had to make time to probe into this part of the world. Despite the widespread poverty, pervasive corruption, lack of political freedoms, low human development, and a high rate of hunger; Cambodia’s innate beauty have surprised me in so many ways.
Siem Reap’s recent history is coloured by the horror of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Since Pol Pot’s death in 1998, however, relative stability and a rejuvenated tourist industry have revived the city and province. It is a tourist driven little town and there is a lot of buzzing activities in the old market and the infamous Pub Street.
There are countless of choices when it comes to hotels and I decided on a little quiet place called Le Petite Villa Boutique & Spa which is done up in classic Khmer contemporary with pristine white contrasted with dark khmer tile. It comes with private balcony, high ceiling, and a 60s era modernised khmer bathroom design.
A local Cambodian friend recommended that I pick a hotel that has ’boutique’ in the name because it was the current trend and would most likely signify that the place was relatively new. He told me that in Cambodia, the humidity is very high so everything seems to decay and wilt a lot faster; especially since maintenance and upkeep are not part of the culture in most of the older establishments.
Coming from Singapore, I thought I understood humidity but when I got to Cambodia, I was proven wrong. The humidity of Cambodia is not to be trifled with and I find that the best way to travel is to head out early in the morning and come back to the comforts of my hotel for drink and a good nap in the afternoon when the sun and humidity seems to be at full force. I’ll then head out for more exploration in the later afternoon and evening.
I chose Siem Reap as my starting platform to getting to know Cambodia as the famous Angkor Wat Temple holds a fairytale magnetism for me. I promise to share my thoughts and the photos of the temple in another post soon.