“…now you can go where people are one Now you can go where they get things done What you need my son: Is a holiday in Cambodia Where people dress in black A holiday in Cambodia Where you’ll kiss ass or crack…”
This is an excerpt from the song “Holiday in Cambodia” by the US band “The Dead Kennedys”. Being a punk band, the lyrics are meant to grate on you in their very cynical way; and as a matter of fact, Cambodia has always been a synonym for murder and destruction and by no means a holiday destination; apart from Angkor, Asia’s most important sanctuary, that has been a World Heritage Cultural site since 1992.
Only when my friend Philippe told me about his plans of travelling to Cambodia, I took into consideration that it might be an interesting destination and a country worth exploring. I decided following his example.
Phnom Penh hasn’t much to impress – hence it surprises by being probably world’s most provincial city with more than two millions inhabitants.
It’s rare to travel a country and not missing much by avoiding its capital. Actually there are tourists who do not make it to Phnom Penh: They go from Bangkok to Siem Reap and from there straight to Sihanoukville from where they cross the border to Vietnam via Kampot and Kep; and that’s it.
While Sihanoukville has a rather bad reputation as a beach destination, travellers are raving about Koh Rong and mainly the much smaller Koh Rong Samloem, two islands off the coast of Sihanoukville.
Truth of the matter is that it’s irrelevant which island you’re on, the right beach is key: While the area around Koah Touch – Koh Rong’s main jetty – and Saracen Beach on Koh Rong Samloem are terrible dumpsters, Sok San Beach on Koh Rong’s west side and Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem are dreamy and Edenic.
Actually Kampot was my favorite place in Cambodia. But that’s because it is exactly how I like cities when I travel: used to some tourism so that people don’t stare at me like the circus came to town. And not overrun by travellers so that people are oblivious or even annoyed.
Kampot’s elegant promenade.
It’s the perfect mix, and one day was far too short.
But since I had only three weeks for Cambodia, I had to choose and divide my time square and fair.
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