Named Cambodia’s most touristic city, Siem Reap has become unfortunately the most affected with the current pandemic. For a fact, the first case of local people in the country, was confirmed there. The then-decline of tourists led then to an unexpected halt. After some governmental efforts, it has become one of the first provinces to heal its patients. Such recovery stabilizes its tourism with local cyclists. As a dual resident between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, I have “personally” discovered the following remarkable traits of “our” survival spirit!
1- First Native Outbreak
Since COVID19 can be contagious through physical contact, the first case in Siem Reap virtually shut down the city. Before this happened in mid-March, tourists travelled freely. Hence, prevention remained loose. However, since more and more have been treated and return negative, Siem Reap local lifestyle has picked up as to break that momentary silence.
2- Tourist Orientation
No foreign tourist? Siem Reap residents already make this a habit: cycling! I remember myself joining an annual ride (or two) for charity on and off. Therefore, cycling would turn into our better alternative, as well as physical exercise. I believe this will set the benchmark for other provinces to follow the same footprints as to revive their tourism. Such a sporty spirit may make it appealing again to future international travelers.
3- Adaptation to Uncertainty
Although quite conservative in their way of life, Siem Reapers’ resilience to modernity is unquestionable. The quietude of downtown seemed haunting at one point of time. Yet, deep down, they know they are going to bounce back once the Kingdom feels “safe” again – if not virus-free – to move about.
To sum up my stay in Siem Reap, after 8 weeks away, like most Cambodians, I already expect a second wave to come about. In between, I believe we have to live our lives (again), of course, without jeopardizing our own health too soon!
PS: If you are now in Cambodia, now is the best time to visit our temples, especially Angkor Wat. Their “peace” will set you apart from the pack!
PPS: You may follow more updates about Siem Reap (and beyond) on this Facebook Page: Siem Reap and More, which I have a co-managed with a social media specialist from the province itself 🙂