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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lessons from Cambodia

Just returned from Siem Reap where my wife and I spent a few days - it so happened that it covered Valentine's Day and just before our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Maybe I am getting sentimental in my old age!

I believe Angkor Wat is an important trip that all Malaysians should take as it can provide some important lessons for a multi-religious nation like Malaysia.
The ruins are really outstanding and prices are affordable especially since AirAsia flies here.

This is not really a travel blog but these are the main points about Angkor Wat that I experienced:

1.The economy runs on the US$ in parallel with the local currency that plays a minor role - mainly to return change that is less than US$1. Collecting taxes must be a headache for the Finance Ministry.

2.English is spoken widely and among the locals even in remote areas, I think the standard of English among the people is better then in Malaysia. We had a driver who told us he learned English after one year of listening to programs like BBC, CNN. He was quite a good speaker and I estimate his standard to be that of a Primary 6 level from a Singapore school.

3.Security is good and we did not feel any danger when walking about the streets at night. Police are stationed at certain points in town.

4.The temples ruins give a good documentary of how religious conquests caused the destruction of man's creation. The temples were destroyed mainly by conquests of Hindu and Buddhist regimes with some Muslim influence via the Chams. But as the photo shows, long after man abandons his creation, the jungle claims back everything. It shows the stark power of nature compared to man's influence.

A visit to Seam Reap would be incomplete without attending a concert by Dr Beat Richner who founded the Children's Hospital where any child can get free treatment. He has been active in Cambodia since the 70s and you can learn more about this truly remarkable doctor here

In brief, if you could only travel to one temple ruins in your life, I would recommend the ruins of Angkor Wat. A three-night break would be enough for most travellers.


Zawi said...

h j angus,
You have just rekindled my desire to visit Cambodia again. I have done Phnom Penh so it is now time to do Siem Reap. Thanks.

H J Angus said...

Try to visit so you can attend Dr Beatocello's free concert on Thursday or Saturday at 7:15pm.

How one man's passion has saved thousands of children in Cambodia.

Siem Reap is a bigger tourist place than Phnom Penh.

We stayed at City River Hotel for US$35 two persons.
Send me an email haroldangus(at)yahoo.com if you need more info.