Japan's college students are on winter break and many are
Fujii Nobuhide, an economics student from Tokyo said
"I came to see Angkor and to see an undeveloped country. This is the first
university break since the end of UNTAC."
The flood of Japanese students
has surprised many who remember the difficulties Tokyo faced deploying their
Self-Defense Forces for the UN mandate, and the reaction to the deaths of two
Japanese during the same period.
Fujii Nobuhide said: "Everyone in Japan
says that it is dangerous, but I had a friend in UNTAC, and he told me that
there is no problem in Cambodia."
Nowhere is the flood of Japanese
tourists more apparent than at the Capital Hotel, Phnom Penh's magnet for budget
travelers and backpackers.
Piep, the owner, says that he first started
getting Japanese travelers one month ago.
Though budget travelers, the
Japanese students say that they are spending $250 to $300 for their 7-10 day
visits. This includes hotel, food, domestic airfares, visas and airport
If the pattern of tourism follows that already established in
Thailand, budget travelers will spread the word at home, and tourists with
heftier wallets will follow.
Yasutaka Ito, a business student from Kyoto,
said that most of the students visited Phnom Penh's markets, the Palace, the
National Museum, the new Japanese bridge and the killing fields and Tuol Sleng.
They would also fly to Siem Riep.
Murase Koichi, a sociology student from
Kobe was the most traveled of the group interviewed. Besides touring Phnom Penh,
he took trains to Siem Riep and Sihanoukville, and visited Tonle Bati. "I will
tell my friends that I like Cambodia because the people are kind and warm," he
All students interviewed said that they worried about security
while in Cambodia. However, none had problems. "My father told me to be careful
here. All of my family thought that Cambodia would be dangerous," one
Air fares between Bangkok and Tokyo are as low as $400 round-trip,
making Cambodia relatively accessible for these students.
said that for him the Angkor monuments were all the same to him. "One looked
just like the other. But the people in Siem Riep, especially at the guest house,
were very warm and kind. Common Cambodians are very generous people," he