Today we are moving out of Nha Trang and tomorrow out of Vietnam. Good bye Vietnam. We had a really great month but we are more excited to go back to Cambodia. Before coming to Vietnam, we had stayed in Cambodia for seven months and the country had treated us very well. We love Cambodia and there is no doubt that it has a lot to offer its travelers. If you are coming from Thailand, crossing via Poi Pet, most likely your first destination will be Siem Reap.
Siem Reap is famous for its various temples where the most famous one is Angkor Wat (see photo journal). Besides that, there are so many other temples but to be honest, after seeing so many of them, they all looked the same. I am sure that the temples savvies will be unhappy with me saying that. But I guess if you do go with a guide or do decide to learn about the temples before hand, there is no doubt that you will understand the differences between the temples (mainly has to do with the king that was ruling at that time) and you will find the tour more interesting. Another great option to cover the temples and Cambodia in general, you can use organized tours to travel around Cambodia. There is no doubt that such a trip is very informative and easy to handle, especially if you are not up to run the process of trial and error and especially when you are limited in time. Keep in mind that Siem Reap is one of the most visited place in Cambodia if not the most one.
Our next destination was Battambang. I personally did not connect to this place. I found it too quite to my taste. I liked the fast pace life of Siem Reap. Most stores and restaurants are done and shut by 8:00 pm. In my first visit with Orazi to Battambang, we were tired and confused and decided to shorten our visit after one night. The best part of it, though, is that Orazi and I spend the only day we had in Battambang in a local orphanage. It was awesome!!
On the other hand, when Gabi took the kids for a week there while I was meditating as part of Vipassana retreat, they just loved Battambang. They toured around the great local market, they rode the Bamboo Train, and had a blast evening at the kids’ Circus. And they found some cool local restaurants that offered some cool food that they found only in Battambang.
The capital of Cambodia is no doubt big. The city has a lot to offer but the Kids and I spent only one week there. The main reason of going there was to spend the Jewish New Year with the Jewish Chabad Center. We considered visiting the Killing Field but two reasons prevented me from doing so. The first was that I felt that this site was not appropriate for my kids. I figure out, it would be too shocking for them. The second reason and the main one is that I could not relate to the fact that someone is making money of the skulls of people who should have been buried. I had learned that a Japanese company had purchased from the Cambodia government to run the Killing Fields as a touristic attraction. I believe that those victims should be put back to ground to rest in peace and not put in glass boxed to be shown to the next willing customer.
On the south, just near the ocean, Sihanukville is a great destination. The city has many beaches and each one offers different pace. For example, if you like the noisy and crazy travel style, on one hand, Serendipity is a great place for you. On the other hand, if you are in a calm and relaxing mood, Otres Beach is the best. I personally went there for a week and stayed in place called Danny Beach Club. The rooms are simple, nice, and cheap. I got a double room with fan and towel for only $6. Keep in mind that the food is much more expensive compare to other places in Cambodia. As for Serendipity Beach, we had stayed in Led Zephyr and we LOVED it. So if you end up there, do not hesitate to check it out.
Koh Rong Island
So how can anyone arrives to Sihanukville, it would be a crime not to visit one of the islands in the area. Since we wanted to include scuba diving for the whole family, we decided to go to KohRong Island where a great diving school is – KohRong Diving Center. This island is just amazing. If any of you have been on one of the island in Thailand about 20 years ago, you know what I am talking about. Most of KohRong Island is still virgin and the vast beaches are white and clean. We had a blast on the Island. As for accommodations, you can choose any of the great resorts such as CoCo Bungalows or the Tree House. They are both great and on the beach. However, if you are on the more economical site, I strongly recommend Ty Ty which is to the left of the pier in which the boat drop you off.
So Enjoy Cambodia. We did and we will again. We are going back to KohRong for another two months to mainly dive. My two older kids Dahnya (11) and Orazi (10) will have the PADI open water junior while Gabi will have hers as well. I will try to get advanced for Dive Mater if funds and times will allow us.
If you have any experiences from Cambodia, either as a backpacker or as part of an organized trip, please share here…