Cambodia’s Feel Good Gem

Sarah Ivens, Founding Editor-in-Chief of OK! Weekly in America, is the best-selling author of the lifestyle guides, ‘A Modern Girls’ Guide to…’ and the travel and adventure book ‘No Regrets’ (Broadway Books, $14).  A born and bred Londoner who now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, she’s wearing ‘dem holes in her shoes (and eating copious amounts of Pad Thai) all for the love of diehard fans of!

Cambodia is slowly catching on to the tourism trade that has seen its neighboring countries flourish over the last decade. It has a long way to go before it can compete with Thailand or Vietnam but that’s more of a reason to go. Now!

The kingdom of the Khmers is truly heaven and hell on earth. Beautiful temples and beaches spring up all over the place, but so do decaying buildings and tragic tales of personal loss. Visitors can make the most out of their trip by embracing both sides of the Cambodia’s history – some info and a conscience will make all the difference. Ripped apart and left poverty stricken after years of war and the horrific genocide of 1975-1979, Cambodia needs your dollars and it needs you to spend them wisely. A few wonderful businesses have been set up around Siem Reap, the place to stay and eat while visiting the nearby Angkor Wat, the magnificent 8th wonder of the world and a truly remarkable series of temples.

If you need some clothes during your trip, head to Circle – a new boutique run by two Americans who hire local women to make their stunning designs. Eco-friendly, the underprivileged young woman, some with HIV and AIDS, make the dresses and tops from vintage and 2nd hand fabrics, receiving a fair salary and sometimes being allowed to work from their homes if they need to look after their children.

52 Aeo, Street 240

If you need a massage during your tour, make your way to Seeing Hands. You will be pummeled and pushed by blind masseurs, and part of your $5 fee will go to help the city’s visually impaired. Communication isn’t easy, and the rooms aren’t up to a sexy spa standard (expect cobwebs and flickering lights) but you can’t resist these charming people – and you don’t have to worry about what they think of your wobbly bits!

324 Ph Sivatha (phone: 012 836487)

If you want to seat something good while doing good, chow down at the Singing Tree Café, a cute café famous for its delicious health food and juices…and for helping a good cause: a percentage of its profits go to helping street children. There are many other places like this in SIem Reap so keep your eyes open.


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