Siem Reap is surrounded by rice fields, seemingly endless and dotted with palm trees and grazing buffaloes. Yet, it is here, hidden deep in the jungle, that you suddenly enter upon the awe inspiring temples of Angkor and realize that over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara, “the lord who looks in every direction” look down upon you from the towers of Bayon Temple. Merely spending a few days to discover the temples of Angkor is not nearly enough to grasp the spellbinding magnificence and timelessness of this enormous archaeological site. The Khmer Empire spread far into Thailand and Laos and the Angkorian spirit seems to be present everywhere you go in Cambodia. Not surprisingly, the national flag depicts the 5 towers of Angkor Wat.
Strolling along Phnom Penh’s side walks and through local markets, full with tropical fruit and strange local delicacies, you find that the French crunchy “baguette”, in neat piles, is on sale for breakfast everywhere. A colonial air permeates Phnom Penh’s river front as you ride a cyclo (local three-wheeled bicycle) up the promenade along the Bassac River to the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda.
As peace reigns in Cambodia, palm trees sway in the rice fields and Buddhist monks chant prayers in temples everywhere. Cambodia is rich with centuries old Khmer architecture, a blend of colonialist charm and Buddhist traditions in generous nature that has blessed the land with vast expanses of fertile rice fields, rivers, cool mountains and gorgeous beaches.