One of the best things about traveling to a distant, exotic, foreign countries is meeting the people who call those countries home. You can see different temples, shopping centers, restaurants or any kind of attractions in every country, but people are what really makes the difference. Cambodia didn’t disappoint – not with temples and definitely not with its wonderful people. Khmer people always had a big smile on their faces. They also seemed very sincere and genuine, possibly because they actually wanted to talk to tourists as opposed to just wanting to sell stuff. It was refreshing. It also involved a lot of pantomime and talking with one’s hands, but interesting enough, you can always find common language with someone if you want to.
Batman tuk tuks, hostess in a cocktail bar will hug you and call you sister by the end of the night, tuk tuk drivers wont sleep all night to make sure they are up early enough to take you to Angor Wat at 5 am, or even random person who steals your coconut in the early hours of the morning while you are trying to dance around it. These are just some of wonderful personalities you could meet and share your Cambodian experience with.
Siem Reap has several markets, and is bustling with life – different produce, seafood, crabs trying to find their way out of the buckets, spices, dried fish, clothes and so much more. You can buy cracked eggs in plastic bags, cooked rice and any fruit imaginable! I had a walk through Old Market in the afternoon one of the days, and saw people just having a nap in the middle of their stalls!
Actually napping seems to be the thing to do in Cambodia! If you have a walk through Siem Reap, you get to see people taking naps in the most unusual places – gas tanks are one of those! And having a nap in random tuk tuk is pretty much a given at any time! For real, there were people taking a nap in tuk tuks that don’t actually belong to them!
If you have ever been to Asia, you know that street food is very big part of the culture, and Cambodia is not an exception. Anything from amazing smoothies, soups, to scrumptious kebabs, scorpions and tarantulas is on offer! Literally, you can get any type of grub on the wheels. It is cheap and delicious!
One of the days, I went off for a tour to floating villages. The lake wasn’t all that far from the city, but difference in the poverty levels were striking – people living in the floating villages have no electricity nor plumbing. They literally make their living out of mini businesses they run from their own houses and they get by on so little it is unbelievable.