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Capturing the Beauty of Cambodia

The highlight of this trip was the overland 2-night “Angkor Wat Overland Adventure” trip to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. We docked in Nha Trang, Vietnam and 14 of us left that afternoon for the airport to fly to Siem Reap. The hotel Meridien is a lovely hotel about 10-15 minutes from the Angkor Wat site so it made for an easy tuktuk (scooter taxi) back and forth. The Cambodians are a wonderfully gracious kind people. They make you feel welcome and safe. The most aggression you see is the kids who are peddling the souvenirs. Granted I was there only 2 nights but I would certainly jump at the chance to go back and stay longer.

Angkor Wat itself is a most amazing site covering a huge area. We visited Angkor Thom in the morning along with Bayon Temple. The afternoon was reserved for Angkor Wat so the light was in the right direction for photos.

The next day we went to visit the jungle temple, Ta Prohm, which was featured in the movies, “Lara Croft, Tomb Raider” and the new “Transformers.” The trees have grown over and around the temple ruins and it looks amazing. It’s always good to have that guide’s local knowledge to make the visit better. The Buddhists developed this area in the 11th and 12th centuries. Later it was taken over and “redecorated” by the Hindus. Original statues were defaced or beheaded, religion being what it is. In that respect some things never change. So much of the site is still original and they are doing restoration at present as you can see from the green and blue plastic on the towers.

Aside from the amazing archeological sites, we had some wonderful Cambodian food, shopped the night market and had a fish pedicure where these Malaysian fish eat the dead skin from our feet for $3 and it included a beer. The fish tickle so we ended up laughing and hooting while they did their work. I saw a man in a T-shirt that said “No tuk tuk, No fish pedicure” but I so disagree with that. You need to try it all, after all that’s the fun of traveling. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Cambodia, take it, whether on a cruise or on a land trip. You will not regret it. I will be back!

Joanne Gardner is Amsterdam’s future cruise consultant.

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