When you mention the country of Cambodia, two things tend to
spring to mind - one of unspeakable horror and one of awe-inspiring
beauty. Today it is the wonder and mystery of Angkor that draws
people to this country.
Built as the capital of the Khmer Empire, the Angkor
complex at one time housed 750,000 citizens. Today Angkor is a
World Heritage Site and will take days to explore. Angkor Wat, the
world's largest temple and home to the world's longest bas-relief
panels is a must, as is Angkor Thom.
Away from the main complex is the delightful Bantreay
Srei. With its pink sandstone walls and delicate and exquisite
carvings, it is an architectural delight. Equally delightful, but
in a more haunting way is Ta Prohm. Here giant creepers and
stranglers weave in and out of the masonry.
Nestled close to all the complexes is the laid back and
sleepy town of Siem Reap. Here you will find stunning, state of the
art hotels sensitively and carefully decorated using Khmer wood
carvings and handicrafts. Complete with landscaped pools and plush
spas, a stay in one of these hotels will prove the perfect antidote
to temple fatigue. From here, you can make gentle forays into the
enchanting countryside including a visit to the floating village at
It is possible to go by boat down Tonle Sap to Phnom Penh.
Slowly, very slowly, this capital is rebuilding itself to its
former glory. As you saunter down the frangipani boulevards against
a backdrop of faded ochre coloured buildings you start to get a
glimpse of what Phnom Penh was like in the 50's and 60's, when it
was as one of the finest cities in the Far East.
But it is for Angkor that one goes to Cambodia. Angkor Wat
has become the symbol of the Khmer people and the country and is on
their national flag. It symbolises their pride, their history,
their rich culture and their grandeur. The Cambodians will leave an
indelible mark on you; so proud and fiercely self-reliant as they
go about rebuilding their shattered country.