The long arrival …

My hotel room

A good part of any international interim, I expect, is just getting to where you’re scheduled to arrive. We were 17 hours in the air and a six-hour bus ride into the trip before we landed on Cambodian soil. (Cambodian soil is, by the way, dusty and reddish, and the dust powders your shoes as you walk.) In Siem Reap, the massive luxury hotels tell half the story, and the shacks that sit alonside them tell the other. Even our somewhat modest hotel illustrates this contrast. It’s nice, much nicer than the hotel in Bangkok, and has cool marble floors and wireless internet. The view from the window, however, is a scene of poverty. A couple of shacks sit amid a dirt yard strewn with wreckage. As I get ready for bed, hitting a button on the remote to turn on the air conditioning, I can see the mother in the house next door settling herself and her two children to sleep on straw mats on the porch for the night. The contrast of lifestyle exists because of the tourists that swarm Angkor Wat; the hotels were built with foreign money to serve those tourists. Tourism is Siem Reap’s economic base. “If something happen to Angkor Wat,” said our tour guide, “eighty percent of this town go down.”

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1 comment so far

  1. Ann DeRooy on

    So tourism feeds their economy without really benefitting the masses. How ironic!


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