Siem Reap is the town closest to the temples of Angkor. Many use it solely as a gateway to those fascinating monuments of Khmer architecture. Yet despite the fact that it is very strategically situated, in a rush to see the temples, very few visitors take the time to see what is really going on beneath the surface of this Cambodian town.
Siem Reap--a dusty town throbbing with human spirit and desperate emotions--was a pleasant surprise for me. The town itself is not much to look at, especially considering the fact that for many who come here, the City of Angkor is what appeals to them. But what Siem Reap lacks in visual appeal, it more than makes up for with character. The nearby ruined City of Angkor is empty and has long since passed away. In contrast, it's neighboring counterpart of Siem Reap is a town alive and vibing with a mix of Khmer locals and tourists alike.
Cast of Characters
Here you will meet the familiar Southeast Asian tout, aggresively pushing his business, whatever it may be. But don't be so quick to brush such ones aside, they are eeking out a meager living on the dusty streets of the only place they may ever call home.
You may also come across the young hopefuls of Cambodia, the possible future leaders or creators of a nation. Step into a little shop off a small side street and talk to the person working there. Chances are, it'll be a young man (or woman) from a village in the countryside, someone who moved into 'the city' to go to school, get a job and chase dreams... some of which are unbelievably attainable for such a so-called 'backwater' nation.
The Nature of Humanity
In a nation that has had so much recent turmoil, political and otherwise, the people of Siem Reap is a mix of hopefuls and hopeless, strong spirited and downtrodden, prosperous and grasping. But wherever you look, whomever you may experience Siem Reap through, you will more than likely come away with a wider view of the nature of humanity.
And now we'd like to ask you: Are there any off the radar places that you feel deserve more credit than what they get?
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...