Miles and Miles of Smiles

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Jina’s Blog: Finding Happiness in Cambodia

When I visited Cambodia recently, I felt an air of sadness wherever I traveled

I traveled. Maybe it is because Cambodia was long at war—and so naturally, the Cambodian people are still healing from its effects. Even our tour guide had a lot to say about his personal experience from the war. Imagine childhood memories filled with violence? Extremely sad indeed. And that’s probably why I didn’t see a lot of smiles as I went around. Sometimes it seemed as though people just existed—and understandably so.

But Cambodia is slowly developing now, which is a good thing for this country. You still see the remnants of the violence and trauma that happened years ago. Many streets remain dusty and not paved. But in spite of that, the Cambodians have such good potential because they have been used to so much hardship, which has certainly molded them into a strong and resilient people.


A fine example of that resilience is this child I happened to take a photo of. She’s using a laundry basin as a boat, and if you look closely, you will see a beautiful smile on her face! In spite of life’s difficulties, somehow these people can still experience simple joys, like going for a boat ride. This is a glimmer of hope for Cambodia.

The most popular place to visit in Cambodia is the ancient Hindu temple Angkor Wat (meaning ‘temple city’), which is the world’s biggest religious monument, and dates back to the 12th century. Though many people found out about it because of Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider films, there is more to it than its place in pop culture. Angkor Wat is rich with significance, and certainly a visit there will paint a clearer picture of what has informed Cambodian culture.

When you visit Cambodia, you will find that its people are very accommodating and eager to welcome visitors. So consider a unique southeast Asian experience and discover Cambodia.