Siem Reap is the gateway city to Angkor Wat and is where I begin my trip. Entering Angkor Wat from the East Gate and it immediately dominates your line of sight, it’s the largest religious monument in the world.
Walking around the ancient complex, it’s hard to grasp how such monumental structures were built. The sheer size is incredible in and of itself, but the fact that it is even still standing (you can see bullet holes from the Khmer Rouge era) after all these centuries is a engineering and architectural feat.
Also housed in the complex are the Bayon and Ta Prohm (where parts of Tomb Raider was filmed) temples.
I have amok a number of times on this trip. Amok is made from fresh water fish which is covered in a combination of shallots, lemongrass, garlic and kaffir lime which is then roasted with crushed peanuts, coconut milk and egg. The whole thing is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
In Phnom Penh, I visit the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Prison. Tuol Sleng was formerly a high school and was used by the Khmer Rouge to torture and imprison. Today, it is a Genocide Museum where you can walk around and see photographs of people that were held there.
Towards Sihanoukville is the Ream National Park. I hop on a small wooden boat and float along the river. On the way, there are fisherman catching with nets and by hand. Mangroves line each side of the river, birds are plentiful and it’s a tranquil and peaceful journey.
This was a trip of many contrasts for me. From awe-inspiring sights to crushing heartbreak at the atrocities that took place here, Cambodia really is the Kingdom of Wonder.
This article was originally published in March 2013.