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Cambodia

A taste of Cambodia… our first impressions

Op-Ed: GlobeTrotterGirls.Com

We fell head over heels for Cambodia – which caught us completely by surprise. This South East Asian country isn’t perfect, definitely rough around the edges. Here are our first impressions we made – for better or worse! Enjoy!

The famous temples of Angkor Wat
These are Cambodia’s greatest pride and they are resembled everywhere: on the money, on the beer, in hotel names & restaurant names, and it is the national symbol on Cambodia’s flag.

cambodia angkor

Water buffaloes as common in Cambodia as sheep are in Scotland!

water buffalosCambodians love to cycle
While it’s all about moto-scooters in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodians cycle everywhere – between villages, in town, to get to school or to work, or to transport goods.

cambodians cycle

Old-fashioned cyclos are still used in everyday life of Phnom Penh and other towns.

phnom penh cycloDurians...
While we weren’t the biggest fans of the fruit whose odor is best described as ‘pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock’, Cambodians LOVE durians! The Durian is the national fruit of Cambodia and we even found an entire statue dedicated to this interesting fruit.

cambodians love duriansMonks get up late in Cambodia
We’ve seen monks receiving their alms very early in the morning in neighboring Laos (6.30am), the monks in Cambodia make their way around time much later – we usually saw them around 9.30am!

cambodian buddhist monksPigs on motorbikes are a common sight…

A pig rides in the backseat of a motorcycle in Cambodia.

(c) Redswept / Flickr

…so are cows in the streets.cambodia cows in the streetsCambodia’s terrible past is still ‘tangible’ everywhere you go.
Almost ¼ of the population was killed during the Khmer Rouge’s regime 1975 -1979 and there is a distinct lack of people between 45 and 65.

phom penh killing fields skullsBuses? Nah…
In the capital, and most other cities, there are no inner city buses. Instead, they have shared pick-ups or trucks.

cambodian taxisCambodians love fresh-squeezed lime juice
So did we! A fantastic thirst quencher in the sweltering heat!

kampot lime juicesThe beaches in the South and on the islands are stunning!

koh rong long beach cambodiaMotorbikes pull anything!

cambodia motorbike loadsThe typical Khmer dish ‘Amok’ (similar to a Thai curry, but with egg added in the sauce) is delicious!

phnom penh vegetarian amokSmoking is ridiculously cheap in Cambodia.

cambodia cigarettesSadly, Cambodia is dirty.
We see piles of garbage everywhere. People just don’t seem to realize that throwing their garbage out in front of their house means it will rot there for eternity. This is one of the most frustrating observations of Cambodia…

cambodia garbageMost of the gas stations still look like this:

cambodian gas stationsGas at a ‘real’ gas station is expensive!
It costs $1.29 per liter ($4.88 per gallon) in a country where the average GDP is $912 per person per year.

cambodian gas pricesBarbershops are open-air on the side of a road or in the market.

cambodia barber shopsPeople in Cambodia love to wear pajamas.
Not sure why, but we saw people in PJs everywhere we went! (We are aware that these gowns are not actual PJs worn at night, but the PJs still describes them best.)

cambodian ladies in pajamasDirt roads leading to a temple are often marked with detailed gates at the start. The countryside is full of these!

cambodian archesIce is usually transported on the back of a tractor, uncovered. The ice transport stops in front of every shop / house and then cuts off as much ice as needed with a rusty old saw. More ‘Western’ places thankfully make their own ice with filtered water in house.

cambodian ice transportCambodians love karaoke on public buses. These low-budget videos blare constantly, even on long-distance rides, and while we really, really don’t like Khmer music, we’d sing-a-long if we could…but we can not read Khmer so we are left to observe…

cambodia karaoke on busesNeed a new external hard-drive? Pick one up for the same price in Cambodia as at home, but these come filled with hundreds of TV shows, movies and music of your choice – a traveler’s dream!

music hard drives cambodia