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Cambodia was one of the last-minute portions of the trip I booked as somewhere to spend 3 days before the rest of my travel companions flew in. Of course, I was glad to visit the Angkor temple complex, but there was more to Cambodia than just this. Unfortunately, Cambodia seems like a country of contrasts. There’s a wealthy portion of the population who work for the people’s party, non-governmental organisations and other such institutions. Corruption is rife - something I didn’t know the extent of until travelling to Cambodia. Talking with a European couple who have lived here for over 10 years gave an enlightening perspective into how the country really works, something reinforced from talking to any local. While I didn’t experience anything untoward or corrupt first hand, I also was unaware Cambodia is considered one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
There’s also signs of development. Siam Reap had a whole host of glitzy hotels, upmarket restaurants, and, the pinnacle of any developed society, boutique independent coffee shops galore.
Much of this dark underside is invisible to the average tourist, but it’s a shame to see a country with such potential still so far from being a true democracy. With such a dark past, where an appetite for change and any degree of forward thinking was a death sentence, it’s difficult to see any short-term change happening.
A beautiful country, but having seen the temples, somewhere I would be hesitant to be a patron of as a tourist until a more progressive government unfolds.