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This guide includes accommodation and places to eat for every budget. It contains coverage of what to do and see in the region, transport details including river trips and overland travel, health and security information, and a Khmer language chapter for easy communication.
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Cambodia is back on the map! The word is out, Cambodia is the place to be in Asia right now and no longer a country where visitors need fear tread. Peace has come to this beautiful yet blighted land after three decades of civil war and the Cambodian people are opening their arms to the world. Now is the perfect time to witness this rebirth of a nation before it becomes just another stop on the tourist merry-go-round.
For far too long, war combined with a vast communist-inspired 'experiment' removed Cambodia from the tourist map. The very word Cambodia came to be associated with atrocities, poverty and refugees. The tragedy of it all belonged to the Cambodians themselves, but is was also a great loss to travelers in Asia.
During much of the 1990s Cambodia remained a difficult country in which to travel due to the presence of Khmer Rouge guerrillas in many provinces. If that wasn't enough to scare people away, then the politicians in Phnom Penh usually managed to cook up a crisis that would deter those contemplating a fleeting visit. However, the long and bloody civil war is definitely over and the Khmer Rouge is no longer terrorizing the people of Cambodia. This is good news, not just for the country's stoical people, but also for tourists planning a trip to Cambodia, as all of the country is open for exploration, most of which could not be visited just a few years ago.
Cambodia lies at the heart of Indochina, bordered by Thailand to the west, Laos and Thailand to the north and Vietnam to the east. It is a fascinating place that, despite its tiny size and large, powerful neighbors, has managed to remain uniquely Khmer. Its cultural traditions have travelled the passage of time, predating those of Thailand, and unlike Vietnam, which was always influenced by China, its dominant influences stem from the Indian subcontinent.
Modern-day Cambodia is the successor-state to the mighty Khmer empire, which during the Angkorian period (9th to 14th centuries AD) was the cultural heartland of Southeast Asia. It ruled over much of what is now Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, and its legacy is one of the wonders of the world. The ruins of Angkor are in a class of their own: there is no other historical site in Southeast Asia that matches their grandeur. The traveler's first glimpse of Angkor Wat, which represents the full flowering of Khmer genius, is a breathtaking experience, matched by only a few places on earth such as the Great Pyramid of Giza or Machu Picchu in Peru.
Cambodia has enormous potential as a travel destination, and investors are moving in with an eye to the day when tourists arrive in the numbers that nearby Thailand enjoys. The land borders with Thailand are now open to foreigners and there are direct flights between Siem Reap and many neighboring capitals. Angkor is once more at the forefront of visitors' minds on a journey to Southeast Asia, as it was before the war cast a shadow over this kingdom. To talk in terms of millions may sound fanciful, but with the temples of Angkor, Cambodia has something unique that none of its neighbors can rival. It also has empty beaches and islands along the south coast, with barely a bungalow in sight, and isolated national parks that are just starting to see the first trickle of visitors. The meandering Mekong River holds the promise of boat trips through Cambodia, north into Laos or south to Vietnam's Mekong Delta. Its mighty waters also provide a habitat for some of the last remaining freshwater dolphins in Asia. In the northeast of the country are wild and mountainous landscapes, home to Cambodia's ethnic minorities and much of the country's diminishing wildlife and forest. Lost in the jungles of the north are countless mysterious temple complexes, forgotten to the world for several long and turbulent decades, offering the visitor the chance to capture the emotions of explorers of old.
Finally there are the people. Cambodians have weathered years of bloodshed, poverty and political instability. Somehow they have come through the experience with smiles still intact. Admittedly Cambodia needs the money that tourism brings, but there is an air of genuine enthusiasm and warmth towards foreign visitors. Nobody comes away from Cambodia without a measure of admiration and affection for the inhabitants of this beautiful yet troubled country.
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Book Description Lonely Planet Publications, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111740591119
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