Once in Cambodia

Cambodia was a dream land for me, mainly because of Siem Reap: ancient temples, abandoned ruins and the Khmer Smile.

Khmer smile angkor thom

angkor wat siem reap

Beng Mealea

zen angkor thom

Khmer Smile cambodia

buddha in half cambodia

And of course, the nature.

cambodia nature

sunset Tonle Sap Lake

sunrise angkor wat

However, apart from the marvellous beauty of this country, the poverty of most locals also surprised me. Take Siem Reap as an example, there are no streetlights outside of the city and people live in rural areas use emergency lights during the night. The 10 dollar tip we gave to our humble taxi driver turned out to be his pocket money for a whole month. Normally he only spends 1 dollar for lunch: rice with a bit of small grilled fish. And this is the life standard of an ‘educated’ driver from the proper taxi company who could speak fluently English.

I asked about his dreams. His dream was to study abroad. Despite the fact of human trafficking in Cambodia, his biggest concern was his parents and family. As the eldest child at home, he believes that he has the responsibility to take care of his parents and younger siblings. What made me think is he did not see this as a burden, he was willing to do that. He has a dream, but he does not want to leave his family behind.

Although the living condition of average Cambodians are questionable, the crime rate in Cambodia is quite low, people do not crave for filthy wealth, which is even rare in much more wealthy countries. Buddhism is the key. People believe Buddhas are watching, everywhere.

young monk in orange

There was just one thing in Cambodia made me a bit uncomfortable: Cambodians do not steal, but they ask for things. Since the living of locals mainly reply on tourism, kids were begging after you, adults would use all means to get more out of you, by offering ‘volunteer’ and ‘unnecessary’ services. I was told that Cambodia government offer 9-year compulsory education, but quite some parents would rather let their children to beg and earn more money than investing time in the unknown future.

floating village tonle sap lake

cambodia fisherman

Cambodia is still a dream land because of its beauty, however, what about the dreams of Cambodians?