The Kingdom of Smiles.


by Christopher Eckel

A side excursion from my trip to India, I made my way to Cambodia to visit my friends Stéphane and Léa from France, who were there working for the embassy. Over the next three weeks we traveled to Kampot, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap, exploring and eating and drinking our way through local and expat culture.

Cambodian culture, despite its very traumatic and recent past, was a place of infectious joy. Whether inside the tourist hubs of Phnom Penh or the country backroads outside Kampot, Cambodians helped guide us through their country with a hospitality I've found in few places.

A truly standout moment was meeting Rina, a Cambodian teenager, on the bus to Siem Reap, and striking up a conversation that ended up lasting two days. He showed me around Ankor Wat with the knowledge of a professional guide, adding immensely to my experience and encapsulating the hospitality of a people.

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