Even though we only got to see a small slice of Cambodia we were able to learn a lot about the culture. The people that we met seemed to be trying to hold on to their distant past, and trying to forget their more recent history. We didn't realize that in the years of 1975-1979 almost 2 million Cambodians we killed in one of history's worst genocides. The violence of the Khmer Rouge party (and aftermath) started in the Sixties and didn't end until the 1990's- almost 1/3 of the population was killed or tortured! It is estimated that 4-6 Million Land Mines are still hidden in the country-side, along with thousands of unexploded bombs left by the US during the Vietnam war. There are still many casualties caused by these weapons today; for this reason all guidebooks warn tourists not to step off marked paths!
Now things are more peaceful and the tourist dollars brought in by Angkor Wat are helping to provide opportunities for the locals. But still corruption is evident; the very high entry fees to the temples are paid to the Sokha Hotel Company (owned by an Oil Company), so only a small fraction of the fees actually go toward temple restoration, and almost nothing gets to the people.
But the forest here is gorgeous- huge canopy trees covered in vines, big lilly pads, and tons of tropical plants. The forest is the deepest green we have ever seen and the country seems to be as much water as land. There are lakes, rivers, and swamps everywhere. The people we met were very friendly and were always willing to smile and help(and sell you something). It will be interesting to see what happens with Cambodia in the future, and we are glad we got to visit this country.