I was slightly baffled by Cambodia’s slogan — The Kingdom of Wonders — when I first arrived in Phnom Penh, the capital. I didn’t see wonders, just a bustling and slightly chaotic city. That all changed when I found Siem Reap.
If you haven’t visited Siem Reap, you haven’t seen the real Cambodia. I love Phnom Penh for its classic city life. I enjoyed the south and the sea in Kampot and Kep.
For me, Siem Reap and its province are a totally different story. The heart of the city is beautiful and very well maintained. It has a mix of lovely Khmer and Colonial architecture.
You feel like you’re in one of the loveliest and quaintest European cities.
The Khmer people are extraordinarily friendly and helpful wherever you go. I found that to be even more so in Siem Reap and Angkor.
Some people say Cambodia is dirty and a mess wherever you go. That’s not the case. Waste management is a long-term problem worldwide, especially in Southeast Asia.
However, I can truthfully that they are doing a great job of catching up in Cambodia. Much more so than in other Southeast Asian countries I’ve visited.
The countryside surrounding Siem Reap is gorgeous and pristinely clean.
I’ve finally visited Angkor, its many temples and small mountains. All of which are breathtakingly beautiful and packed with history.
Note: I did not see one plastic bottle or any trash lying around in the Angkor area or on the mountain trails I hiked. It was all clean as a whistle.
Again, I cannot say the same for other countries.
My 4 years in Bali taught me a lot about pollution and how not to waste manage.
You see far less plastic trash than you do in Bali, on the beaches, and on the mountain or jungle trails in Cambodia.
I consider myself lucky to live here.
The never-ending complaining expats
Sadly, some expats in Cambodia insist on putting it down. They call the country polluted, environmentally irresponsible, noisy, with terrible traffic, and “overpriced for what you get.”
Of course, these comments come from the angry folks on Facebook who are disappointed and bored with their lives.
“If you find Cambodia so bad, why are you still here?”
A friendly person commented back, saying:
“Some people hate everything about Cambodia but never leave. They are just having a bad day, that’s all.”
The angry man’s reply:
“I just see it how it is.”
There was no need to reply. Thankfully we all see things our own way.
Moving on to the now and future
Let’s not forget that Cambodia and its people went through 10 to 15 years of destruction and killings not too long ago by the Khmer Rouge.
Despite the genocide and 1/3 of the population (of then 7 million) being murdered, they’ve miraculously recovered.
30 years after the catastrophic suffering ended, the country’s population is now at 17 million and rapidly growing.
Cambodia is a developing country with an economy set to bloom in the next decades.
So, if you want to make a good move, come here to live, work, retire, or invest. It will be the best thing you can do for the quality of your life, happiness, and return on investment.
I love Cambodia.
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