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  Tales of time travel

Tales of time travel

| SHALINI SELVARAJAN
Published : Aug 20, 2016, 10:43 pm IST
Updated : Aug 20, 2016, 10:43 pm IST

Musician Shalini Maria Selvarajan recently took a trip to Cambodia to experience the country’s rich culture and history. She tells us more

Structures with faces at Angkor Wat
 Structures with faces at Angkor Wat

Musician Shalini Maria Selvarajan recently took a trip to Cambodia to experience the country’s rich culture and history. She tells us more

Pictures and blogs of the quintessential backpacker paradise of historical Cambodia and beautiful Vietnam, combined with 15 days of leave in May and the catalyst of discounted tickets from Air Asia, made me want to visit these countries. I travelled with two of my friends who had also accompanied me to Japan last year. We were there for six days, but wished we had time to see more of the countryside.

 

Due to our limited time, we only went to Siem Reap and the capital, Phnom Penh. Siem Reap is the focal point of Cambodian tourism because of the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat — the largest temple complex in the world and the equally stunning temple ruins, all situated close by. The famous movies Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat have also been shot there!

Exploring the night markets, shopping, street food and the streets was very rewarding. Cambodia also has a dark chapter in its history, when it was under the reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. I think it’s crucial for everyone to visit the War Museum at Siem Reap, as well as the S-21 Prison and Killing Fields at Phnom Penh. The atrocities documented might be hard to stomach, but it’s poignant to know what they went through and how the country has risen again, resiliently.

 

Fish amok — a fish, coconut milk, and lemongrass delight, and Khmer Lok Lak — sweet and sour grilled meats with tons of veggies — were our staple go-to meals. Apart from these, the most memorable food I ate had to be the street food ‘insect carts’ — the roasted scorpion (tasted like crunchy chips) and grilled maggots!

Due to the language barrier, it was a little hard to communicate with the locals beyond a few words, and we mostly got by with hand actions! That aside, everyone was very polite, helpful, and very respectful.

Since we all only had holidays during May, we didn’t quite have a choice; but I would definitely recommend going when the weather is a lot cooler, probably in November-December. Take your time with the temple ruins — at least three days, to do them justice!

 

If I were to plan an international trip soon, it would definitely be to New Zealand, which I’ve been dreaming about. Within our country, I’m looking forward to backpack the North East of India next month.

(As told to Kaavya Pillai)