7 Must see experiences in Cambodia
No matter what they say, there’s more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat, though it is the numero uno reason for going there.
Here are seven reasons why you must experience the exotic Cambodia beyond the obvious, Angkor Wat.
Say Cambodia and they ask “Angkor Wat”? This epic temple is a phenomenon so synonymous with Cambodia that nothing else seems to exist in that country. Not to mention, scores of tourists from all over the world go to just see the sunrise here and then return to their countries. Your trip to Cambodia is incomplete if you do not boast about visiting this temple complex of impressive architecture, a combination of history, and Hindu mythology.
The other temples which I highly recommend are Bayon temple, Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm where trees and stones compete with each other to tell stories hidden since hundreds of years and where Angelina Jolie’s movie Tomb raider was shot.
2. Apsara dance
The traditional dance of Cambodia is called Apsara dance. The flexibility of all the joints and the slow flowing dance patterns seem to indicate a poetry in motion. Many of the hand movements are quite similar to the Mudras of Indian Classical Dance forms. The word Apsara means exactly the same as in Hindu Mythology.
3. Genocide museum
Move from Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat which in my opinion is touristy; you’ll see a very different Cambodia. Though the whole country is still recovering from its disturbing past, the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh will tell you how barbaric the period was. Natives, with the help of NGOs, are picking up pieces to make a respectful living from what they are left with, trying to forget the horrific past.
4. Silk island
Each family on this island near Phnom Penh is a weaver’s family where kids from young age know how to work on a loom. Golden threads are woven to create beautiful Cambodian motifs on raw silk fabrics which are made into wall hangings, shawls, stoles, scarves, table linen. Learning English is a craze among young children of Koh Dach, who on weekends come to the mainland on a ferry in search of prospective customers and take them to their houses.
5. Street Food
Like any other south-east Asian country, Cambodia is also a haven for non-vegetarian food. People wait in long queues when a bull is skinned and barbequed on the streets. Deep fried baby snakes are a delicacy, so are the small pregnant birds with their half grown eggs intact in their bodies. Fried Grasshoppers, Roaches, crickets, beetles, maggots & other insects are consumed as snacks just like we have potato chips and likes.
6. Ton le sap
This lake is not just a lake but a concept and a medium to earn livelihood for hundreds of locals and Vietnamese refugees. They live, study, pray, eat and sleep in their boats on the lake. Floating schools, churches, grocery shops, hospital and even graves can be seen here. A typical scene you could come across is of children floating in aluminum tubs with big water snakes around their necks, posing for photos and asking for money.
7. Cambodian Weddings
You can not attend a Cambodian wedding if you go there as a tourist for a short visit and do not mingle with locals. I have volunteered in Cambodia for months and several locals had made me a part of their families and their joyous and their sad moments. The Cambodian weddings are as elaborate as Indian weddings. There are various rituals and events such as asking bride’s hand from her elders, engagement ceremony, procession, reception, song & dance and the actual wedding.
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