World Adventurers is Moving


magazineWe’re moving to a new home! After three years with WordPress.com, World Adventurers is finally merging with my author’s web site, MG Edwards, hosted by WordPress.org. MG Edwards will be a one-stop shop for all my content from books to travel articles and videos. Please visit the new site and subscribe to it.

I will continue to cross-post here for a few months during the transition. Although I’ve added all the content on this site to the new one, I will leave this blog as-is for the foreseeable future until the migration is complete.

I think you’ll find the new site easier to use with a better design. All blog posts will be organized into articles for the World Adventurers Magazine, an online resource for travel and more. You’ll also notice more content, more updates and more variety.

So…come on over to MG Edwards and sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Great Barrier Reef, Australia (Video)


When my family and I went to Australia in October 2012, we spent a few days in Cairns in the far north of Queensland. One of the highlights was our daytrip to the Great Barrier Reef about an hour off the coast by ship. We went snorkeling and took a submarine ride along part of the reef.

2012_10_26 Australia GBR IMG_0183

Here’s a video clip of the reef on the World Adventurers Channel. The scene reminded me of a scene out of the movie Finding Nemo…or perhaps the other way around. More on Australia soon, but until then enjoy the clip!

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

Click here to subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube and enjoy more great travel videos.

More About Australia

Visiting Australia

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buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Happy Chinese New Year!


新年快乐!Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Lunar New Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Wooden Horse or the Year of the Green Horse. Why a wooden or green horse? The Horse is one of twelve animals representing a twelve-year cycle in the Chinese lunar calendar. Combined with the five elements in the Chinese Zodiac, Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth, the calendar goes through a 60-year cycle where each animal is associated with a different element every 12 years. Visit HanBan for a great summary of the Year of the (Wooden) Horse. Click here for more information about the elements.

This year may bode well for those born in the Year of the Horse with some promising personality traits such as being outgoing, energetic, active, friendly, trustworthy, and popular with friends, family, and acquaintances. The same may hold true for all of us during the Year of the Horse if the Green Horse appears this year and proves auspicious. However, as Wood can burn Red with flame, 2014 may also bring turmoil and crises. Who’s to say which Horse will cross the chronological plain this year. 没关系 (méi guānxi). No problem. Party on! It’s time to celebrate Chinese New Year!

How do the Chinese celebrate the New Year? Well, it starts with days of shopping for and buying any and all things red, gold, and (this year) green to make the holiday more festive. Shoppers stock up on food, drink and treats for Chinese New Year dinners, fireworks to blow off at stroke of midnight, and hongbao (红包 or red envelopes) to fill with money for the children.

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Shopping IMG_3096

Chinese New Year is a time for families to celebrate the holiday together. Families who stay home and host festoon their houses with New Year decorations and prepare huge meals for extended family who join them for an evening…or often longer. It’s a time to enjoy great food and holiday delicacies, to catch up with family you might not have seen for a while, and to give hongbao to the children. If you’re lucky, your child will bow before you and promise to be behave as they ask for their red envelope.

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Family IMG_2885

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Family IMG_2887

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Family IMG_2997

Going home to visit family by train, plane, or bus is a holiday tradition not often mentioned. The week-long lunar celebration triggers the world’s largest annual mass migration with an estimated 3.6 billion trips made, including 225 million Chinese who traveled overseas for Chinese New Year.

After dinner, many Chinese families relax and watch the annual New Year Show on Chinese Central Television (CCTV). Part variety show, part music concert, the event is watched by an estimated 750 million people.

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year TV IMG_2998

Just before midnight, millions of Chinese take to the streets, rooftops, or any open window to blow off fireworks to usher in the New Year. The spectacle is unbelievably loud and beautiful. The fireworks during the 2012 Year of the Dragon celebration in Shanghai were incredible! Click on the video below to watch.

2012 Chinese New Year in Shanghai, China

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fireworks IMG_3086

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fireworks IMG_3041

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fireworks IMG_3091

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fireworks IMG_3015

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fireworks IMG_3020

The next day, many Chinese families venture out to enjoy local public festivities. They may go shopping, watch New Year parades, or tour old, familiar places. The Lunar New Year is a time to remember family, friends, and ancestors, and many visit places that have been an important part of their families’ lives. These photos were taken in 2012, at the Temple of the Town Gods in Shanghai.

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fest IMG_3174

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fest IMG_3195

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fest IMG_3220

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fest IMG_3226

2012_01_22 Chinese New Year Fest IMG_3230

新年快乐!Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! Happy New Year to you and yours!

Map of China

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mge-kili-cover-front-thumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay


In honor of the Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals coming soon, here is a video clip from the February 2008 Carnival celebration in Encarnación, Paraguay. If you’re in Paraguay and can’t attend the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, don’t miss its smaller sibling in Encarnación. I think it holds its own as one of the world’s great Carnivals and adds a uniquely Paraguayan flavor to this annual event.

A colorful festival of music and dancing, Carnival is known for its wild, crazy, and sometimes risqué atmosphere. This parade in the Carnival capital of Paraguay was festive and revealing but decidedly tame compared to its reputation. Female and male performers in colorful outfits festooned with feathers and glitter like shimmering peacocks dance to lively chamame polka-style music along a long runway. It’s quite the sight to behold. This video is just a glimpse of what to expect in person. You have to see it for yourself.

2008 Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay

Encarnación is located in southeastern Paraguay on the banks of the Paraná River, across from Posadas, Argentina. Paraguay’s third-largest city has a population of about 100,000, and is located just half an hour from one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, the Jesuit ruins at Trinidad.

Warning:  If you attend Carnival in Encarnación, be prepared to get soaking wet. It’s a participatory event where the spectators douse one another with shaving cream. Leave your aquaphobia and valuables at home and arm yourself with cans of shaving cream to defend yourself from the onslaught. Bring a Carnival mask and join in the fun!

World Adventurers YouTube Channel

Why not subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube? I have been posting video clips of great destinations and fun travel moments from elephant polo in Thailand to Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, and much more. Stay tuned for more great travel videos.

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mge-kili-cover-front-thumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Cedar Breaks National Monument (Video)


Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah was one of the travel destinations my family and I visited in the United States last summer. Here’s a video clip showing different views of Cedar Breaks from the rim. It’s not very big but has spectacular views. Have a look; I think you’ll agree.

Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah

Cedar Breaks is a short 25-mile drive on Highway 14 from Cedar City, Utah. It’s a great place to stop on your way to or from Zion National Park or Bryce Canyon National Park. The rock formations are similar to those of Bryce Canyon albeit on a smaller scale. If you don’t have time to visit Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks is a good alternate.

Map picture

After watching this video clip, why not subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube? I have been posting video clips of great destinations and fun travel moments from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, and much more. Stay tuned for more great travel videos.

More about the Colorado Basin in Utah and Arizona

Bryce Canyon National Park (Video)

What I Did Last Summer (Photo Montage)

WAfK Front Cover (mini)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

NaNoWriMo–I Did It!


Dear Reader,

I’m happy to announce that I finished 50,000 words of my upcoming book, a memoir called Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now, during the month of November – thanks to NaNoWriMo!

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year to help me finish my latest memoir. The book is now about 100,000 words long and counting, and I anticipate that the final draft will clock in at about 120,000 words once finished early next year.

The book Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will explore the legacy of the Vietnam War. After my father died unexpectedly and left me a set of mysterious photographs he took during his 1968-69 tour in Vietnam, I embarked on a seven-year quest to learn his story. The book will be about my search for the truth about dad’s time in Vietnam and how the war affected him.

In April and October 2013, I spent time visiting Vietnam from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south and almost everywhere in between. What I found was remarkable, and I’m now trying to put it into words for readers like you.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will honor the past, acknowledge the present, and encourage reconciliation for those who remain. It is intended to help those who have no recollection of the Vietnam War remember the veterans who served and their legacy. It will also focus on how Vietnam has changed since the war. Many books have been written about the Vietnam War, but few have focused on the years that followed and the difficult process of healing and moving on.

Vietnam Then Now

Here are now and then photos of a former American military base in Vietnam. The top photo was taken in 2013; the bottom was taken at the same location 45 years earlier, in 1968. The memoir will feature many now and then photos like these.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a creative writing challenge held each year in November. Participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 to 30. The program encourages writers to finish the first draft. Participants from around the world can join online at any time with a goal to finish 50,000 words by the end of the month. Since its founding in 1999 by San Francisco-based freelance writer Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo has grown to several hundred thousand participants who write billions of words annually.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel and need a push to get started, NaNoWriMo is for you. The challenge encourages would-be authors to write no matter how good or bad the story is. Quantity, not quality, is the name of this game. If you’re a writer, think about participating next year in NaNoWriMo! Visit their website to get started. It’s free to participate, although donations are welcome. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word limit, you will probably be farther along in your novel if you participate. Give it a try next year!

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will be released in 2014.

vietnam (mid)

Click here to read my previous post about NaNoWriMo.

All images property of M.G. Edwards except NaNoWriMo banner courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org. All rights reserved.

clip_image004M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring the three books. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

NaNoWriMo


Dear Reader,

I’ve been busy the past year working on my next book, a memoir called Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now. The book will explore the legacy of the Vietnam War. After my father died unexpectedly and left me a set of mysterious photographs he took during his 1968-69 tour in Vietnam, I embarked on a seven-year quest to uncover his story. The book will be about my search for the truth about dad’s time in Vietnam and how the war affected him.

In April and October 2013, I spent time visiting Vietnam from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south and almost everywhere in between. What I found was remarkable, and I’m now trying to put it into words for readers like you.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will honor the past, acknowledge the present, and encourage reconciliation for those who remain. It is intended to help those who have no recollection of the Vietnam War remember the veterans who served and their legacy. It will also focus on how Vietnam has changed since the war. Many books have been written about the Vietnam War, but few have focused on the years that followed and the difficult process of healing and moving on.

I’ll be busy writing the memoir in November. I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to keep me on track. If I can finish 50,000 words by the end of this month, I should be well on my way to finishing the first draft by the year’s end. Wish me luck! I won’t post many blog updates until it’s done.

nanowrimo

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a creative writing challenge held each year in November. Participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 to 30. The program encourages writers to finish the first draft. Participants from around the world can join online at any time with a goal to finish 50,000 words by the end of the month. Since its founding in 1999 by San Francisco-based freelance writer Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo has grown to several hundred thousand participants who write billions of words annually.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel and need a push to get started, NaNoWriMo is for you. The challenge encourages would-be authors to write no matter how good or bad the story is. Quantity, not quality, is the name of this game. It’s not too late to participate in NaNoWriMo this year! Visit their website to get started. It’s free to participate, although donations are welcome. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word limit, you will probably be farther along in your novel if you participate.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will be released in 2014…if I finish NaNoWriMo this year!

vietnam (mid)

clip_image004M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Bryce Canyon National Park (Video)


Bryce Canyon was one of the national parks my family and I visited in the United States last summer. Here’s a video clip showing different views of Bryce Canyon National Park from the rim. The drive from north to south isn’t very long – about 18 miles one way – but the views are spectacular! Have a look; I think you’ll agree.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

After watching the video clip, why not subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube? I plan to post travel video clips of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and much more. Stay tuned.

WAfK Front Cover (mini)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures and children’s books. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated three picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series:  Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

What I Did Last Summer


Dear Reader,

It’s been said that “life happens.” That’s certainly been true for me lately. Life has kept me away from blogging for a few months, but I’m glad that you’ve been enjoying my archived posts in the meantime. I plan to publish more new material soon.

After my last update in July, my wife, son, and I toured the western United States. We enjoyed three great weeks last summer in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, and Utah. Here are some of the best photos from our trip.

Escondido, California

2013_07_23 California Escondido

San Antonio de Pala Asistencia, part of the historic California Missions

2013_07_25 California Pala

Bonners Ferry, Idaho

2013_07_28 Idaho Bonners Ferry

Kootenay River Gorge near Moyie Springs, Idaho

2013_07_28 Idaho Kootenay River

Glacier National Park, West Glacier, Montana

2013_07_29 Montana Glacier

Wild Horse Island State Park, Flathead Lake, Montana

2013_07_30 Montana Flathead

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

2013_08_03 Utah Bryce Canyon (IMG_7437)

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

2013_08_03 Utah Bryce Canyon (IMG_7410)

Click here to watch a World Adventurers video with spectacular views of Bryce Canyon National Park!

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

2013_08_03 Utah Cedar Breaks Sunset(IMG_7828)

North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

2013_08_06 Arizona Grand Canyon

2013_08_06 Arizona Grand Canyon

2013_08_06 Arizona Grand Canyon (3)

Beefaloes (bison/cow cross breed), North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

2013_08_06 Arizona Grand Canyon (2)

Zion National Park, Utah

2013_08_08 Utah Zion (2)

2013_08_10 Utah Zion

2013_08_08 Utah Zion

The cliché that pictures don’t do it justice is true. My family and I had a great time last summer. I hope you did too!

2013_08_08 Utah Zion (3)

Since returning home, I’ve spent much of my time writing two new memoirs. Eurasia:  Getting into Travel in Europe and Asia is a coming-of-age story about my journey as a college student through 20 countries in Europe and Asia. Vietnam:  On the Trail from Then to Now explores the legacy of the Vietnam War and my search to learn the true story of my late father’s time as a soldier in Vietnam. Both are scheduled for release as part of the World Adventurers Series in 2014.

I’ve also been busy promoting my new children’s World Adventurers for Kids picture book collection featuring the first three books in the series, Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra. Sales and early reviews have been great. Do your kids a favor and pick up your copy today! Click here for a list of booksellers.

WAfK Front Cover (mini)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures and children’s books. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated three picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series:  Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Top Ten Things to Do on Holiday in Cambodia


Here is a list of top ten things to do if you visit Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia. This list is based on my travels in Cambodia from December 2012 to January 2013. It’s generally ordered by proximity to the country’s premier tourist destination, Angkor.

The destinations and activities below will give you a taste of what this incredible country has to offer. A study in contrasts, from the majesty of the former Khmer Empire showcased by the legendary Angkor to the country’s recent tragic history under the Khmer Rouge still echoing in the Killing Fields, Cambodia is unique. It is a wonder to behold. These are some of the best places where you can experience what Cambodia has to offer, although this is by no means a complete list.

1. Angkor: The capital of the Khmer Empire from 802 A.D. until its conquest by the Thais in 1351 A.D., Angkor today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwest Cambodia near the city of Siem Reap. Hailed as one of the world’s most spectacular ancient historical sites, Angkor is a large complex that includes the former palace of Angkor Thom and dozens of Hindu and Buddhist temples scattered across an area more than 1,000 square kilometers (390 square miles) where as many as one million people once lived. Today more than two million tourists flock annually to this remarkable place to see the timeworn temples, buildings, and points of interest that coexist with contemporary Cambodia. Angkor is by far the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia, and its highlights would easily fill their own top ten list. The site is so far flung that it has inner and outer roads to take you to take you near and wide around Siem Reap.

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Pre Rup

2012_12_27 Cambodia Countryside

2012_12_27 Cambodia Siem Reap Traffic

2012_12_28 Cambodia Countryside

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Sunset

Angkor Wat: A Hindu temple built between 1113 and 1150 A.D., majestic Angkor Wat overshadows the Angkor complex and is by far its most popular attraction. It is splendidly beautiful. No visit to Cambodia would be complete without spending time in Angkor Wat. Walk around the gardens, admire the reflecting pools, and climb up to the main courtyard where you can see an amazing 360-degree view of the horizon.

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Wat (4)

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Wat (3)

Moonrise Kingdom

Angkor Thom: The former Khmer capital in the epicenter of Angkor is surrounded by a wall with preserved gates you can drive through in a car or tuk tuk. Several important sites are located inside its walls, including the Bayon, Baphuon, and Terrace of the Leper King.

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Thom Gate

Angkor Thom

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Horizon

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Thom

Bayon: The state temple of the Khmer kings, the Bayon is a Buddhist shrine built in the late 12th Century or early 13th Century. The out-of-this-world mystical site is filled with towers graced with faces carved into the stone, giving the impression that the temple guardians are watching you. The walls also features impressive bas-reliefs.

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Bayon (3)

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Bayon (4)

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Bayon (2)

Baphuon: A Hindu temple built in the 11th Century, the Baphuon lies northwest of the Bayon and just south of the royal palace. The collapsed temple was rebuilt in the last half of the 20th Century and now offers a great view of Angkor Thom from the top. The back of the temple features one of the world’s largest Reclining Buddhas. Can you spot him in the picture below?

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Baphuon (2)

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Baphuon Reclining Buddha

Terrace of the Leper King: The semi-submerged structure at the center of Angkor Thom winds through a hillside like a snake, its walls adorned with images from Hindu lore. The site was reportedly used for cremation ceremonies and named after an Angkor king who had leprosy.

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Leper King Terrace

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Leper King Terrace (2)

Ta Prohm: A Buddhist monastery located to the east of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm is the second most popular of the many temples and monasteries after Angkor Wat. Much of it has been left its natural state, although some efforts have been made to preserve the site and keep it from being gradually torn apart by the roots of the tetrameles nudiflora trees growing on its walls. The site is otherworldly – a scene from the movie “Tomb Raider” was filmed at Ta Prohm. One hopes that it won’t fall to ruin from the very trees that make it more awe-inspiring than computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation.

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Te Prohm (5)

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Te Prohm (2)

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Te Prohm (4)

2012_12_27 Cambodia Angkor Te Prohm

Ruluos: A cluster of Hindu temples in Angkor about 15 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap, the site is dominated by the Bakong and Preah Ko temples. Built in the 9th Century, they were among the first shrines built by the Khmer kings.

2012_12_27 Cambodia Roluos

Ruluos

2. Siem Reap: Cambodia’s tourist hub is a fun city of about 200,000 located near some of Angkor’s most stunning sites. Stay in the center and enjoy the town in the evening after a long day touring Angkor. Siem Reap has several markets, including a night market, and its lively evening atmosphere makes it a great destination for food, shopping, and entertainment.

2012_12_26 Cambodia Siem Reap Nightlife (2)

3. Kompong Phluk Stilt Village/Tonle Sap Lake: Kompong Phluk Stilt Village is located about 25 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap off National Highway 6; the entrance is just past the road to Ruluos. During the dry season when it’s not flooding, villagers who make a living fishing on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia’s largest, live in stilt houses that rise more than five meters (15 feet) off the ground. The town offers an interesting glimpse into the lives of local fishermen and looks like the set of a post-apocalyptic movie. Wooden boats take tourists downriver past the town on a brief cruise through a semi-submerged mangrove forest and along the shore of Tonle Sap Lake. It’s a great daytrip combined with a visit to Ruluos. Those who don’t have a car can take a tuk tuk or taxi from Siem Reap for a reasonable price.

2012_12_28 Cambodia Tonle Sap Kompong Phluk (2)

2012_12_28 Cambodia Tonle Sap Kompong Phluk

2012_12_28 Cambodia Tonle Sap Mangrove Forest

2012_12_28 Cambodia Tonle Sap Lake

4. Koh Ker: Briefly Angkor’s capital from 928 to 944 A.D., Koh Ker lies about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Siem Reap in a remote area of Cambodia. The seven-tiered pyramid is the most famous of several historical sites in Koh Ker. Perhaps most significantly, Koh Ker is a nice get away from the throngs of tourists who congregate around Siem Reap.

Koh Ker

5. Preah Vihear: An ancient Hindu temple built in the 9th Century on the edge of what was once Angkor, Preah Vihear sits atop a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains of Cambodia overlooking a plain in Thailand. The temple is beautiful and the view spectacular. A 140-kilometer trip from Siem Reap, the temple sits on the Cambodian-Thai border. Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand over access to the location and instances of violence has made the area somewhat volatile, although the situation has been quiet as of late.

Preah Vihear

6. Phnom Penh: Cambodia’s capital is a study in contrasts. It is fast emerging as a dynamic engine of growth for development with the opening of a new stock exchange and financial center. And yet, it can’t escape its brutal past under the Khmer Rouge regime that captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and decimated the city and its people until its overthrow in 1979. A walking tour of the center, from Wat Phnom Penh temple to the markets near the waterfront for shopping and a meal, to glimpses of historic sites such as the French architecture along Monivong Boulevard and the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge, are reminders of Phnom Penh’s past and present. Try some Cambodian food with French coffee and dessert at one of Phnom Penh’s many eateries.

2012_12_30 Cambodia Phnom Penh Skyline (2)

2012_12_30 Cambodia Phnom Penh Monivong Blvd

2012_12_30 Cambodia Phnom Penh Waterfront

2012_12_28 Cambodia Phnom Penh Japanese Bridge

7. Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda: Cambodia’s Royal Palace and famed Silver Pagoda – named for the silver tiles on the temple floor covered by carpet – are among the most beautiful sites in Phnom Penh. Much of the palace of the Cambodian king is closed to the public, but it still offers a taste of Cambodia’s rich culture and heritage.

IMG_8939

8. Tuol Sleng (S-21) Prison: This former high school in a quiet Phnom Penh neighborhood was once the site of unspeakable horrors. An estimated 20,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge were interred, interrogated, tortured, and killed at Security Prison 21 (S-21) or transferred to the Killing Fields to be executed. Only 12 known survivors escaped death here. Today the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. It is a sobering look at the darker side of Cambodian history and the tragedy of genocide.

Tuol Sleng

2012_12_29 Cambodia Phnom Penh Genocide (3)

2012_12_29 Cambodia Phnom Penh Genocide (2)

2012_12_29 Cambodia Phnom Penh Genocide (4)

9. Cheong Ek Memorial / Killing Fields: Cheong Ek, better known as the Killing Fields, is a former Chinese graveyard and orchard used by the Khmer Rouge to torture and execute thousands of victims in a horrific act of genocide. Mass graves with the remains of 8,895 out of an estimated one million victims of the Khmer Rouge were discovered at the site. Today it is a memorial with a stupa (tower) filled with the skulls of more than 5,000 victims and a walking tour of the grounds that will leave you in tears. The graphic photos and depictions of torture and execution at Tuol Sleng and Cheong Ek are not for young children or those faint of heart but a necessary reminder of the country’s past. It’s important to focus on all that is good about Cambodia during your visit, but these sites should not be overlooked.

2012_12_29 Cambodia Phnom Penh Killing Fields (2)

2012_12_29 Cambodia Phnom Penh Killing Fields

Cheong Ek

10. Cambodian Coast / Sihanoukville: The Cambodian Coast is a generally unspoiled region waiting to be enjoyed by those who like great beaches, national parks, tropical forests, mountains, and nature hikes. A stopover in Cambodia’s largest seaside city, Sihanoukville, is a great starting point for travel along the coast. See my recent series on the Cambodian Coast for more information about the Cambodian Coast.

2012_12_31 Cambodia Coast (2)

2012_12_31 Cambodia Coast (3)

2012_12_31 Cambodia Coast (6)

2012_12_31 Cambodia Coast (8)

2012_12_31 Cambodia Coast (9)

2012_12_31 Cambodia Tatai River (2)

2013_01_01 Cambodia Koh Kong (5)

2012_12_31 Cambodia Coast Sunset

2013_01_01 Cambodia Koh Kong

Map picture

clip_image0013[3]M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.