Cambodia - A Destination For The Mindful Travellers
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Cambodia stretches through the centre of the Indochinese peninsula with Laos to the north, Thailand to the west, Vietnam to the east and Gulf of Thailand to the South. The name Cambodia is perhaps an English iteration of the Sanskrit ‘Kamboja’ or Kambujadesa meaning Kingdom of the Khmer.
Much of Cambodia sits below sea level and is dominated by the Mekong river (Tonle Thom or the great river) and the Tonlé Sap (freshwater river). The Mekong River, also referred to as ‘mother of all rivers’ connects China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and has been extremely significant to the economy and livelihood of the entire region.
Cambodia is one of the world’s most homogenous countries, with over 90% of it’s population made up of Ethnic Khmers, the descendants of the great civilization of Angkor. One of the most striking piece of culture is the Apsara (dancing celestial nymph in Hindu mythology) and the music that originates from the Khmer culture that can still be witnessed today. Ethnic Vietnamese are the next big group, many of them descendants of those brought by the French as civil servants. Khmer Chen (Cambodians of Chinese or mixed Chinese and Cambodian decent) account for around 500,000 of the population. A significant number was persecuted by the Khmer Rouge.
To appreciate Cambodia, it is important to understand its story. If you are interested in knowing why Cambodia is what it is please read the History of Cambodia here. When you travel to Cambodia, you can still feel that sense of history lingering on- old stone temples and then French boulevards and yellow neoclassical buildings.
However considering the long turbulent past and the desire to catch up with today’s world may put some of these temples and heritage architecture at risk- Tourism has only just started in the late 1990’s but with little experience of preserving the centuries old monuments and managing visitor inflow, mass tourism and particularly insensitive tourists can cause the death of these priceless monuments that have seen history being created… we can only hope that they don’t trample over the fabric of the past to weave the new….