Cambodia for many is misery, orphans and a terrible genocide. Too bad, Cambodia is also a joyful, sunny country, bursting with culture and smiles
This is a country you can fall madly in love with, very quickly. And yet I’ve often been asked to “spend two months in Cambodia? What for? In 2 weeks you can see everything! ». Of course. If we only consider Angkor and its extraordinary temples, Sihanoukville and its beaches. Maybe Phnom Penh, the city, the banks of the Mekong, the S21, the night market… With a pinch of Kampot pepper, yes in two weeks, the circle is complete. But it would be a shame to miss all the rest. Cambodia is an invitation to travel, to human and cultural adventure.
សួស្តីកម្ពុជាខ្ញុំឈ្មោះគ្រីស្ទីនខ្ញុំជាជនជាតិបារាំងរីករាយដែលបានជួបអ្នក! Suostei kampouchea khnhom chhmoh kri stei n khnhom chea choncheate barang rikreay del ban chuob anak! Hi Cambodia !
Cambodia is stunning, dazzling, it is full of surprises
Hidden temples, dense jungles, children asleep under the stalls, smiling and very benevolent people : welcome in Cambodia. This country is endearing like no other. Is it due to the energy that the inhabitants deploy to rebuild themselves, the calm of the countryside mixed with the chaos of the cities? Difficult to say but one thing is sure, it is a country that invites you to travel, the real one, outside of the marked out routes, it is there that the best of Cambodia is to be found.
Only yesterday in Cambodia, it was genocide, war…
Cambodia has its dark side. Marked by tragedy, war, child trafficking, prostitution, the portrait is not always flattering. Don’t let this discourage the visitor from discovering its inhabitants, he will live a magnificent adventure. There is so much to take and learn here! Ancestral traditions, surprising food, pepper and crabs, local beer, crowded buses and tired tuk-tuks…
The Cambodians are very kind and caring
One feels in Cambodia a great benevolence, many smiles and despite the still fresh scar of the madness of the dictators, a deep joy. These people literally blew my mind. How easy everything was! In spite of the slow-moving buses, the random schedules, the stifling heat and the heavy rains flooding the city, each time there were nice people to guide and help me.
In Cambodia, the most beautiful monuments are the people!
It would be wrong to say that in Cambodia we will never be confronted with scam attempts, wrong directions, exploited children or empty promises. But what we can experience there goes far beyond these international practices. This country offers wonderful moments. In Cambodia, there are beautiful women and children everywhere and everyone is smiling. The elders show their affection by kindly stuffing you on the shoulder with their fists, the families come to meet you. Everywhere, I felt welcome. It’s not that common.
By motorbike, by bicycle, by car, Cambodia can be explored in a thousand ways
This exploration is done on two wheels along the muddy or dusty laterite roads from which one comes back with an orange face and arms. We will crash into minibuses in which up to 16 people can cram or into buses overflowing with bags of rice, stinking durians, babbling families and wise children. All this to the rhythm of streaming Chinese movies and the sound of the horn so loud it can make you deaf.
Cambodia is a great adventure, let’s face it!
In this country, one feels elsewhere, out of time and out of the galloping and ugly civilization that creates more misery than happiness. There are still elephants on the roads, refreshing waterfalls sheltered from guided tours, houses on stilts made of palm leaves. This is where the journey begins. Just hang up your hammock, share the river with the women in Sampot to wash yourself with a pot and a burst of laughter.
In Cambodia, the gastronomy is amazing and as good as its Thai neighbour
Here we eat hot rice soup, raw fish porridge for breakfast. At lunch, a choice of crispy locusts, crispy tarantulas, delicate dragon fruit, Lok Lak (pickled beef). And as a drink, palm wine with a confusing soap taste or a teukolok, my favourite: a shake prepared with fruit, sugar and raw egg white.
In the markets, people refrain from commenting on pieces of meat lying on the ground on a dubious plastic sheet. The saleswomen, whose job is mainly to hunt flies with a broom made of plastic bag strips, do not lose their smile. Let’s buy live catfish struggling on metal trays, artistic skewers with lemongrass and ginger flavours. Amoc, prahoc, Kampot pepper and fish sauce perfume the whole. But we must admit that the quantity of rice that we eat in this country is impressive.
Majestic temples, living stones, Cambodia is not frozen in a museum
What can we say now about the enchanting temples and not only those of Angkor, devoured by the jungle, inhabited by spirits, smiling statues, graceful Apsaras, thieving monkeys. The immutable lions with rounded torsoes guarding the temples of Vishnu since the dawn of time, the calm of the Tonle Sap and its floating villages. The culture is alive and inspiring.
The hectic adventure is also a must in Cambodia
Startled by the baffling noise of machines hammering sugar cane stalks to extract syrup, the cries of street vendors bending under the load of baskets or pushing their carts. The church bells, the high-pitched horns, all make for a fantastic concert. Let’s get lost in the strange murmur of the forest, the abandoned wooden temples, but also abandon yourselves to the sadness of the spectacle of the mass graves, cells and camps from 1975.
Who can resist this adventure, unexpected, tasty, enriching? Human, cultural, historical, animal or gastronomic, Cambodia takes the traveller on a crazy exploration, punctuated by small and big unforgettable joys.