While many hotel managers in Siem Reap have retrenched staff during the global financial downturn, the de la Paix management team took a collective pay cut in order to retain all part time and casual workers.
One income supports a dozen people around Siem Reap, a fact other hoteliers have callously ignored.
[caption id="attachment_2179" align="alignnone" width="407"] Landmine clearing sign.[/caption] Carried away again by the tomb raiding atmosphere, I completely forget that it’s a jungle out here. [caption id="attachment_2170" align="alignnone" width="448"] Beng Melea is far from Angkor Wat's madding crowds.[/caption] At Bantey Srey, a lovely pink-hued sandstone temple, known also as the ‘Citadel of the Women’ for its delicately carved inlays of village women, we are also alone.
These sites are only 90 minute’s bone-rattling drive from Angkor Wat, but off the beaten track.
[caption id="attachment_2168" align="alignnone" width="448"] Angkor Wat in late morning sunlight.[/caption] Other temples such as Angkor Thom and Bayon attract similar sized crowds.
When the rainy season reaches full stride during the torrid Cambodian summer, life here changes rapidly.
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During the 1970s, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge murdered some three million people.
The Vietnamese killed most of the wildlife and bombed temples in the 1980s.
To gain an appreciation of what lies waiting to be explored, head to Phnom Bakheng atop Temple Mountain and be amazed at the sweeping vista, a sure invitation to venture further a field.