Cambodia sent me a pleasant surprise.
So I have been living and traveling in SE Asia for just under a year now. Never knowing what to expect at any given place, you always just have to put your brave face on, crack a smile and go with the flow.
This was no exception when I recently left Vietnam, the place I had just got comfortable enough calling 'home' and then BAM visa runs out, decisions need to be made. Do I leave? Do I stay? Costs and timelines need to be weighed up and suddenly, here I go, once again.
I had always vowed to myself coming to SE Asia that I would make a point of seeing Angkor Wat.
A place so magnificent and mysterious to so many archeologists, a civilisation that seemed so much more sophisticated than our own, despite the lack in what we consider today the height of technological know-how. Yet they managed to achieve a level of artistic design, symmetry and architectural magnificence - the stuff we still strive for. I simply had to see this for myself.
My expectations about Cambodia had been next to nothing, having overheard conversations and gaining local vietnamese and Thai opinions about Cambodia, to be honest my expectations and hopes for a pleasant trip were slowly diminishing. I almost expected not to enjoy it at all. I don't understand why the locals had a negative opinion about Cambodia but I guess in South African terms its the same as Bulls supporters hating every other person with an opinion favouring a separate team. They won't be able to give you a reason but they just do.
But in beginning this year, I made another promise to myself: Expectations are dangerous, the only way to truly live is to let go of expectations, go out there and find an opinion, one that isn't poisoned by surrounding negativity or unsupported knowledge. My opinion and my experience must be my own, always and truly.
So, here is my opinion on Cambodia (Siem Reap side): It is absolutely beautiful, completely calming and the people could not be more kind, helpful and genuine.
Driving through endless fields of palm trees and forests only to come across an ancient temple every couple of Km's is a feeling like no other - my Lara Croft persona was having the best time - ready to discover, ready to explore.
It took three whole and very full days to explore this amazing destination and when you see it, you will understand why. There are tons of temples, all spread out throughout the entirety of Siem Reap. Everywhere you go is an opportunity for exploration.
I had a ton of pictures by the end of these three days. As breathtaking as it is, it almost seams like an impossible feat to try and capture it fully, here is what I got :)
My morning missions and low light moments:
Besides exploring the beautiful temples, I absolutely fell in love with the natural landscape, how clean it was and the most entertaining monkeys ever!
Also not to mention the colours, textures and detail <3 Only a select few from about 100 pictures ;)
And of course, Last but always the most important, the people <3
Cambodia, you left me inspired and completely exceeded all my expectations. A beautiful country filled with beautiful, kind, honest people. If I could have stayed, I absolutely would have. Staying at the Mekong Angkor Palace was an absolute treat! Also if you are in the area and need an amazing driver/guide - I would recommend Vuthy (pictured above) - he is quite well known within Siem Reap and we could not have asked for a better guide. We stumbled upon him and he was simply kind enough to show us around, check him out for sure.
Much Love Xxx