Culture in Cambodia

Some of the most memorable experiences I had while in Cambodia, described with some superlatives:

Phnom Penh

  • Best way to get around traffic: Tuk-tuk ride with a driver not afraid to drive on the wrong side of the street
  • Tastiest dish: Chicken Amok
  • Most televised national pastime: Cambodian Boxing
  • Best Deal at Central Market: Prescription sunglasses (frame and lens, even at my prescription) for $35
  • Best drink at a night market: Dragonfruit smoothie
  • Most difficult obvious dish to hunt down: Ka tieu Phnom Penh (rice noodle soup)

Siem Reap

  • Being most efficient: Riding a transport van also used for orange and banana shipments
  • Moment of globalization: Seeing a monk use an iPad to take pictures of tourists at Wat Bo
  • Most kitsch venue: Children’s entertainment at Cambodia Cultural Village, a theme park
  • Most satisfying meal: Buffet dinner and traditional Cambodian dance, for $12
  • Most humbling moment: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
  • Most annoying thing about shopping: Being chased by salespeople as you walk anywhere
  • Longest line: 3hr border crossing at Poipet

The main takeaway from Cambodia – this is a country all about perspective. Recovering from the reign of the Khmer Rouge while rapidly developing into a major tourist destination has made Cambodia a fascinating multi-faceted country. Anyone visiting should both take time to appreciate their glorious ancient past as embodied in Angkor Wat, their recent dark ages that are still fresh in many locals’ minds, and their rapidly developing future and its corresponding infrastructure needs.

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