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One income supports a dozen people around Siem Reap, a fact other hoteliers have callously ignored.
Among many experiences available to travellers: cultural wonders, food tourism, river boating, beach havens, wildlife and eco-tourism spring immediately to mind, Cambodians themselves inspire hope. Wear blinders or go with eyes open to daily reality.
[caption id="attachment_2166" align="alignnone" width="261"] Tonle Sap map: pale blue outline shows lake at extent of annual flood.[/caption] Fish fatten, rice paddies flourish and the people eat well.
Sadly, new dams upstream in southern China where the Mekong begins its journey through Southeast Asia present potentially damaging environmental problems in a country that has already experienced more than most.
Angelina Jolie fans at Ta Prohm temple duly recreate scenes from the Lara Croft Tomb Raider film shot here in 2001.
[caption id="attachment_2184" align="alignnone" width="336"] Strangler fig tree at Ta Prohm.[/caption] Gigantic fig vines twist around ancient stones recreating an alluring film set atmosphere.
It’s also run by people with big hearts and keen social awareness.
A sort of ‘not another bloody temple’ experience akin to too many European cathedrals in a week or too many masterpieces in the Louvre museum in a day.
Admittedly, the de la Paix is a 5-star hotel, slick and cool with efficient plumbing and an in-house generator that kicks in when the town’s power supply shuts down, which occurred daily while I was there.
A reliable internet connection, sensational food and a bar that wouldn’t look out of place in Miami’s South Beach complete the picture.
Despite the flooding, the lake level is at a historic low and fish harvests are down.
[caption id="attachment_2167" align="alignnone" width="276"] Tonle Sap floating village.[/caption] To recount a Cambodian chronology is to reflect on years of hardship.
For me, a visit to Cambodia is emotionally charged.