Sam and I didn’t have a particularly good first impression of Cambodia. We got off our boat in the heart of Phnom Penh and were greeted by scorching heat and pushy tuk-tuk drivers. We had trouble finding a place to stay and were underwhelmed by the food. But after a few days, things changed. It’s not that we grew to like Phnom Penh. Rather, we realized why the city didn’t match up to others we had visited.
Modern Cambodia is, in a sense, less than 40 years old. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge ruled from 1975 to 1979, and in those four years they destroyed the country. One out of every four Cambodians was murdered during the genocide, with special attention paid to city dwellers, the educated, and ethnic minorities. In his quest to create an agrarian utopia, Pol Pot killed 2,000,000 people.