Above: A tented accommodation overlooking the water at Shinta Mani Wild in Cambodia

When I arrived in Phnom Penh after a four-and-a-half-hour flight from Shanghai, there were just three other commercial jets parked at the terminal, only one of which belonged to the national airline, Cambodia Airways. For a capital city, in the middle of the day, this seemed surprising. During pre-trip research, I’d learned that Cambodia is the least developed of the Southeast Asia countries, with a 2018 per capita GDP of just $4,322, its economy having lagged behind those of neighboring Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Memories of calamitous wars still linger, even though around 65 percent of the inhabitants are under age 30 and hence were not alive when the Khmer Rouge were driven from power. And the past is given daily physical embodiment by the saturnine figure of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in office since 1985.

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