As we packed into the van for the border crossing into Vietnam, I thought back on my not-long-enough time in Cambodia. It’s not enough to say I enjoyed it; it was more than an, “oh, that was a nice visit, we should do it again.” It’s more of a feeling that the country and, more than anything, its people, have firmly lodged themselves somewhere in my brain.
Yes, there is extreme poverty. Yes, there are people that are scraping, literally scraping, by. But, in all that, there is an openness and friendliness that I have yet to encounter anywhere else. In a country that has every reason to be bitter and angry, and I’m sure that those emotions do exist, the people are still willing and able to smile and welcome a stranger.
Perhaps it’s because tourism is still very new. I’ve heard from other travelers and expats how much Siem Reap, for example, has changed in the past ten, even five, years. Yet the city seems to retain its personality and the citizens still live in town; I hope that the increasing number of tourists doesn’t change the essence of this area and this amazing country.
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