Cambodia by the Numbers:
Country visited: 3
Total Days: 8
New name: Scambodia (credit to LH)
Average daily cost: $78.49 – includes $56 for visas and $40 for Angkor Wat entrance
Average daily cost of accommodation: $15.00
For $15.00/night you get: A double room, private bathroom, hot water, A/C, sink/mirror, towels/toiletries, excludes breakfast.
Average daily cost of food/drinks: $29.55
Favourite beer: Angkor, not to be confused with Anchor, which must be confusing for waitresses and bar staff.
Cambodia (Khmer) food is: Good, but we were too spoiled by the Thai food, so we didn’t consider it particularly noteworthy
Why Cambodia is more expensive than you would think: Because they use the US dollar. Locals supplement their own currency, the Riel, for US cents, but for tourists, the prices and costs usually vary only by the dollar.
Souvenirs purchased: 9 (T-Shirt/sunglasses for Paul, skirt and t-shirt for Rebecca, 2 books, 3 DVDs)
Mosquito rating: 1 full can (most sights are outdoors)
Antibiotics used: 0 (hurray!!)
Sunburns: 0 (hurray!!)
Tip #1: While it was sometimes tough to refrain, instead of giving money directly to beggars we made an effort to support the many businesses that either donate money or provide training, employment and educational opportunities for the disadvantaged.
Best book about the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian genocide: Stay Alive, My Son by Pin Yathay
Paul’s favourite things about Cambodia: Ta Phrohm temple in Angkor Wat, the improvements, Phnom Pehn architecture and boulevards.
Rebecca’s favourite things about Cambodia: Angkor Wat temple in Angkor Wat, massages, the friendly and warm people (Rebecca thought the women were quite striking).
Things you might not know about Cambodia: It’s hard to find anyone our age. The Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. They evacuated the cities, forced the citizens into labour camps, and killed millions of Cambodians. Millions others died through starvation, disease or other conditions caused by the Khmer Rouge. The birth rate plummeted, and the infant mortality rate skyrocketed.
Thank God for small miracles: Cheap prescription glasses with shades for Rebecca’s scratched eye.
Tip #2: If possible, buy the Cambodian visa online. If you have to buy at the border, buy directly from the authorities and not through a tourist service.
Our least favourite things about Cambodia: Scams by tourist services, road from Poipet.
Final Word on Cambodia: The transformation over the last four years has been incredible. It really appears that the standard of life has improved dramatically for the population – obviously this applies only to the well-traveled areas that we visited. This may be a result of tourist dollars, international development aid, simply a matter of a nation and government getting back on its feet, or perhaps all of the above. When I was last in Cambodia in 2004, the child hawkers at Angkor Wat were literally in rags, and looked dirty and malnourished. Now, they wear western clothes, and look healthier and happier. In a perfect world, they would be in school and not hawking cheap t-shirts to sweaty tourists, but there has definitely been an obvious improvement.
This improvement is also evident in the restoration and reconstruction of Cambodian cities. It sometime seemed as if the whole country was under construction. New roads, new public works, new services, new office towers, new shopping malls, new residences, - we noticed these developments everywhere we went. Hopefully the trend continues, as Cambodia is a beautiful country with much to offer.