Explore Cambodia: A Virtual and Accessible Tour
This week we are heading to the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia, the home of Angkor Wat. There are many other parts of the country to explore as well, from bustling cities to beaches with bioluminescence. A quick content warning: many of the resources we are listing here mention the Khmer Rouge regime and genocide, so please be aware that some of the content may be upsetting. As always, we are trying to make sure the content we suggest is accessible in different ways. Although it can be difficult to find websites that are fully accessible, we review many to offer you the ones that are the most accessible. As always, if you find barriers or have suggestions please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know so that we can improve!
Visit the Museums and Sites
The Amateur Traveler podcast talks about their guided trip from Vietnam, through Cambodia, to Thailand. This touches on several sites and gives an overview of traveling through the country. The podcast and a full transcript are available here. Many people are drawn to Cambodia by Angkor Wat, a massive temple complex just outside of Siem Reap built in the 12th century. By land area it is the largest religious monument in the world. You can read more about Angkor Wat on the History Channel’s page. You can also explore Virtual Angkor, “a groundbreaking collaboration between Virtual History Specialists, Archaeologists and Historians designed to bring the Cambodian metropolis of Angkor to life.” To see real images and videos of the complex, turn to Google’s Street View Treks.
In Phnom Penh and the surrounding area there are several sites and museums related to Pol Pot’s regime and the genocide. Although sobering, this is an important part of the country’s history. It’s recommended to visit Choeung Ek, The Killing Fields, and then the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. (A note from Claire: I visited both while in Phnom Penh. It takes the better part of a day and it is very emotionally draining--I cried several times and felt sick to my stomach. Part of what makes it so impactful is physically being there, but you can still learn about it through some of these resources). Although there are not virtual tours of these sites, you can read about the The Killing Fields in this article from The Culture Trip and you can learn about the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum on their official page, as well as see a few photos.
Kampot is another popular destination in Cambodia. It is much smaller than both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It is often described as a lazy river town, and it is well known for its pepper. To learn more about the Kampot pepper industry and history check out this story from BBC. Also, check out Claire’s blog about the inclusive cafe, Epic Arts Cafe, in Kampot.
Lastly, Cambodia has many stunning islands to visit. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem are two popular Cambodian islands in the Sihanoukville Province. The official Koh Rong website has a collection of videos to give you a taste of the islands. The islands are also known for their stunning bioluminescent plankton.
Tune in to Shows and Movies About Cambodia
For a visual exploration of Angkor Wat, turn to Netflix’s Moving Art (no dialogue). An episode in season 2 is focused on Angkor Wat. You can also watch videos of traditional Cambodian dance from the Royal Ballet, available on YouTube, for another visual experience.
To learn more about the cuisine of Cambodia tune in to Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey, a BBC food show with an episode about Cambodia (Season 1, Episode 1), available on Amazon Prime (captions available). On Netflix, you can watch the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner episode on Phnom Penh, featuring David Chang and Kate McKinnon (due to language this may not be appropriate for younger audiences). This show has both captions and an audio description track available.
Amazon Prime has Angkor Awakens available for streaming, a documentary about the country’s history, modern day, and possible future (captions available). For a movie about the history of Cambodia, tune in to First They Killed My Father, an feature film adaptation of Loung Ung’s memoir First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. This movie has both captions and an audio description track available.
Get Lost in Books About Cambodia
There are many books about Cambodia, including the memoir mentioned above. The Culture Trip provides a list of six books to read before going to Cambodia. Of these, all six are available on Kindle and one is available on Audible. Five Books has a list curated by David Chandler, author of Voices from S-21. Of these, two are available on Kindle.
Bring Cambodia to Your Kitchen
Fish amok is a traditional Cambodian curry that you can find throughout the country. This page has an overview of the dish and also includes a recipe at the end of the article. For a vegetarian version you can check out this page. Coconut milk is a staple in many curries, but if you are allergic to coconut you can consider these substitutes.
For dessert we turn to Noum Kong, which are Cambodian donuts. These donuts are made with rice flour and are naturally gluten-free. As this recipe points out, the flour is called glutinous rice flour, but it does not actually contain gluten. You can omit the sesame seeds if needed, and you can use the link for coconut milk substitutes that is listed above with the curry recipes.
Where to Next?
Thanks for wandering Cambodia with us virtually. Join us next time as we explore Antarctica.