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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Thailand and Cambodia by hoo*la on 21 December 2004 6:57pm
Hi all,

Any recommendations for must sees, restaurant, places and events? I'm off next month and any suggestions that might not have made it in to the guidebooks would be great!
Re: Thailand and Cambodia by Godfather on 21 December 2004 9:37pm
It's quite difficult to find anywhere in Thailand that is not now listed in guidebooks unfortunately. It's one of the most heavily visited areas of South East Asia. It's always possible if you go to areas that dont have the usual Buddhist attractions. But if a visitor tries to get off the beaten track, and yet still hope to find amazing sights, they often remain frustrated.

So it's best to accept Thailand for what it is, and enjoy it regardless of how commonly travelled it is. Thailand is lots of fun. It appears modern on the surface. But infact, everyday things that people do even in the big cities are customs that go back centuries or more. Like Japan, it's a country where ancient ways run deep under the surface of apparent modernization. You can easily put your foot in it in Thailand, without ever realizing. They have so many taboos. So it's not what it appears. Usually i use Thailand as a chill out spot if i'm travelling in Asia. It's easy to travel there,and to take it easy. So i head to the beaches and enjoy it as a little holiday.

But Cambodia can still be challenging in areas. It's still outwardly quite "South East Asian" (in terms of how you might be expecting it). The most common route people usually take initially, is the Thai-Cambodian border to Siem Reap (town near the famous Angkor Wat temple complex), then a river barge to Phnom Penh. In that area are plenty of historial places to visit related to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era. The Killing fields (Chong Ek), etc.

Some people do travel to off the beaten track regions in Cambodia. But it's still dangerous to do that. It's best not too get too adventurous there yet. Old remnants of Khmer Rouge still exist in the vast jungle areas,and travellers have run into trouble before. Plus, landmines are the biggest problem when travelling there. Going way off the beaten track without knowing where you're going, could mean you come back with no legs. I'm being a bit dramatic here of course. But it's good that you are aware of it. In the last few years, an airport has opened at Siem Reap. This means many people can fly in direct from all over the world. This has had positive effects for locals of course. But bad effects for casual travellers,as it becomes very commercial, and occasionally a bit tacky.

Siem Reap in particular is booming now. It easily gives the false impression that the country is fully on the tourist map thesedays. But it's not. It's still pretty much only a few areas. Elsewhere is still very wild,undeveloped, and occasionally dangerous in areas.

Previously, you got into the country on the horrendous road from Thailand (although that's getting a little better thesedays) on the back of pick up trucks for 15 hours. But in the last few years,buses are available. The whole thing has become a little easier. For Cambodia,i would'nt say there are any particular must sees apart from the obvious - Angkor Wat. Most of the time you're just in awe of everyday culture going on there. That's what make a visit there special. People are friendly,but it's always clear that they want your dollars as priority. They're much poorer than in Thailand. So it does tend to remain a "walking wallet" spot. You're more likely to make genuine local friendships in Thailand in that respect.

Enjoy your trip.
Re: Thailand and Cambodia by hoo*la on 23 December 2004 5:11pm
Fab advice Godfather, thanks!

Merry Christmas all x

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