There are few things in life which I enjoy more than a holiday aboard a Thompson (TUI) cruise ship. That little blue plastic card is the ticket to two weeks of paradise! The first stop on our trip was in Cambodia – not the most obvious choice of a tourist destination but interesting nonetheless.
Our first trip out from the boat was to Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s south-west coast overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. With only an afternoon free in this port we boarded a tuk-tuk (complete with smoking engine and decorated with green astroturf) around a couple of areas of interest, including the famous ‘golden lions statue’ and the Wat Leu Temple on the outskirts.
There is a lot of poverty in Cambodia and it is impossible to ignore people living by the roadside and children begging for money in the streets. There is also massive construction work of luxurious apartments and it seems that every other renovated building is a casino, which is a shame.
Cambodia has a terrible history as I am sure you are already aware, and any decent tour guide will point out the killing fields and the legacy of the Khmer Rouge 1975 -1979, when Buddhist temples were destroyed, desecrated and used as mass graves. Even before this, the country was bombed consistently in the Vietnamese War with America.
The country is trying to rebuild and establish itself as a tourist base, and it does have a lot to offer, although there is such a lot of work needing to be done. Should we visit Cambodia again in, say, another ten years’ time, I am sure that it will look very different…