My name is John Thompson, and I’d consider myself an avid traveler. I’ve been to more than a dozen countries in my short sixteen years of life. I have never been to Europe, though. Most have been countries in southeast Asia. I’m half Thai on my mom’s side so I go to Thailand every year, then go to other countries from there. This story is about the time I went to Cambodia.
I would recommend anyone to go to Cambodia if they have the chance. This may sound clichÃ©, but it will make you realize how good people have it in America. You hear adults say it all the time, but you finally realize it when you see how bad they have it in comparison to us. Things we take for granted are rarities in Cambodia; like fresh, clean water. The main national economy depends on money from tourism. The only thing of worldwide signifigance they have is Angkor Wat.
I went with a Thai tour group, but it was pretty similar to groups you could book in the States. There were plenty of Americans at the places we stopped. I would not suggest trying to go without a tourist group or travel package. And don’t worry about exchanging money. Their currency, the “riem,” is worth 4,100 times less than a US Dollar. They don’t even use their currency other than in small villages. Dollars work fine.
Since tourism is the main income for the country, be sure to get a Visa. I don’t remember how much it was, but I think it was around $20 USD. You need a visa to go into the country. The centers for tourists are generally better than the rest of the country. Dwelling conditions shouldn’t be too bad.
While going around you should see a lot of bicycles and motorcycles. You may be surprised about who is driving and how many people are on it. The most shocking one I saw was a motorcycle with four little girls, all of whom looked under ten. Road laws are almost non-existant. The tour guide said, “The speed limit is simple- the first car on the road sets the speed limit.” I only saw one traffic light the whole time. The only real vehicles you will see other than motorcycles and bicycles are tour vans. The general population cannot afford cars. The better-off families can afford a motorcycle or a few bikes. Anyways, the tour drivers know how to get around. You will not know how to (trust me). Renting a car and driving is not a good idea. Take a tour group.
Cambodia made me realize so many things about the world. We truly have it good as the “fat cats” of the world. It was a similar experience to when the Buddha journeyed outside the palace walls to see the people who were not as fortunate as himself. It truly is an eye-opening experience I would recommend to anyone.
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