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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Cambodia

We have left the country of Laos behind. It’s quietness and lethargic pace of life has ironically passed by us with great haste. It feels like I spent a very short period in the land of a thousand elephants, but our group of upbeat travelers was there for a full month. Racing through Cambodia, we are en route to the city of Kratie. I am excited to be here. Here in the land of the empire of Angkor: builders of wonders. The country of King Sihanouk: breaker of colonial chains. And the bath of the Khmer Rouge: spillers of blood.

No country I have travelled through has extended to the horizon with such endlessness. There is the road our bus is driving on, smoother and more finished than the dented and turbulent roads that we have just left behind in Laos. There are the houses and shops that sometimes line the road: roofs of galvanized metal, walls of dark timber. Guarding the road, the buildings stand squatly. And then there is the beyond, stretching out forever.

Its dry, cracked earth is pockmarked with green shrubs. In the foreground they look severe and desperate. In the background the shrubs are nothing more than lines on an eye-level plane, characters out of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland. Every so often, as our bus continues to cut through the country, we pass rectangular pools of cool green water. They are an enticing contrast to the landscape; a strange dichotomy of wet and dry feeds beauty into the country of Cambodia.

I find it strange that as we enter the final phase of our trip, I am confronted with the foreverness of the Northeastern Cambodian countryside. Our trip will not last forever. The beginning of the end is upon us. All I can do is hold on, embrace the moment, and hope that Cambodia will be even better than Laos.