Gateway to Cambodia is the new and beautiful airport in Siem Reap.
Cambodia is a less frenetic, less crowded variety of the South East Asia lifestyle. The Khmer people are tall and handsome, obviously the descendants of the people portrayed in the temple carvings seen Angkor Thom. Siem Reap means ‘Siam depart’ in commemoration of a defeat of the Thai invaders. Since the discovery of Angkor Wat in 1860, Siem Reap has grown to accommodate the visitors to the National Park, so there are many places to stay of every rank and style. The Park Hyatt is the newest, a jewel in the middle of the city. The Grande Angkor, built by the architect who designed Raffles Hotel in Singapore is another.
The National Museum houses beautifully presented and curated artifacts from the temples and palaces of the Khmer Empire, providing a base of understanding with which to understand the visits to the various ruins. A week will afford the time needed to visit enough of the sites to comprehend the complex, especially since the best response to the humid heat is to visit in the early mornings and late afternoons, with rest and swimming or spa treatments are good mid-day activities. Overall, the ambiance is spiritual, supremely artistic and powerful. In the evening, visit ateliers and galleries local artists, or Hmong circus, expressing village stories with amazing acrobatics.
Another array of experiences are cultural. There are farms where the nearly extinct silk worms of Cambodia have be nurtured and the nearly lost techniques of processing, spinning and weaving silk in the traditional ways have been conserved and passed on to a new generation. Or visit a homestay farm, to be served authentic Cambodian fare by a family in a large open dining room and sleeping quarters in typical stilted houses, affording a taste of living in the Cambodian countryside. Don’t miss a performance of traditional dance, by the students of a school sponsored by a princess of the royal family. The talented village girls who are chosen to study this dance technique, train from the age of six to twenty three, first in meditation and concentration and then in the very demanding techniques and positions of the dance. They perform the story of the Ramayana, which in its entirety is 7 hours long.