13 Weeks of Wandering – Destination: Cambodia

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver

Where To? Cambodia
How long? 7 days
Status: Facing my fears and having fun!

13WoW – Destination: Cambodia

The Border Crossing

Crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia was a three step process that was thankfully organised by Coco, our Cambodian tour leader.

Step one: Stop at a gas station nearby where we were met by some men who had a load of the arrival/departure/application forms for us to complete and who took our payment of around $30.

Step two: Go to the Cambodian consulate and wait whilst passports and forms are taken in by said gentlemen.

Step three: Go to the border where you have the option to send your bags on ahead of you by means of a guy pulling a wagon/cart thing.

Being with a big group, we had to pretend not to know one another to avoid them holding us back or charging us extra fees.

There were many street vendors selling everything from fruit to shoes as we walked through, there are also many child beggars which was heart breaking to see as they surround you looking sweet… Until they try to steal your bag.

The Street Kids

But they are so cute! So sweet! So innocent… well yes, and no.

In short, it is advised that you don’t give money to street kids or buy from them. There are many reasons for this but here are a few that I was given by my local guide.

1. It doesn’t help them. Often, these kids are “employed” by another adult and the money they make selling goes to this adult and doesn’t benefit the child. I actually saw one parent (or perhaps not even their parent) push their child into the middle of a group of tourists to take advantage of their cuteness.

2. It is detrimental to their future. Many of the kids selling on the streets do not get an education because their parents would rather use their kids to sell for them than invest in their future. This means that the kids are left with less of an opportunity for a better future.

3. It’s not good for the country’s economy. With more and more children being pulled out of school or not allowed to go to school, there are less educated people able to contribute to the economy by creating successful businesses or getting good jobs. This means the good jobs will go to foreigners and the businesses will be owned by foreigners.

Giving Back

For south east Asia, one of the main means of income is tourism. Unfortunately, the government, large companies and corporations rake in the benefits and it rarely makes it down to the local people.

That’s why I was so excited to have dinner at the New Hope training restaurant.

This is a social enterprise that has been set up to invest the income from tourism into the local communities. The restaurant trains local people up to become chefs, waiters and barristers. They will then help the locals to get good jobs in the city.

In the same location there is a school which also does English lessons. The school is free for the very poorest in the community and often those who finish school will then go on to work for new hope.

The food was some of the best I’d had in Cambodia and included delicacies such as deep fried cricket…

Bon Appetite!

Getting Around

There are many ways to get around Cambodia from Buses, Motorbikes & Taxis, to TukTuks and Cyclos.

What is a Cyclo? I hear you say.

It’s the old mode of transportation that locals used to get around.

Unfortunately, since the motorbikes came to Asia, this dated method of transport had been dying out and been replaced with TukTuks or motorbike taxis. But many of the cyclo drivers have been doing this for over 10 years and it is their only means of income. That’s why I’d encourage you to go for a city tour by cyclo, that and because it’s so much fun!

My other mode of transportation was quadbiking! I signed up to a tour of the rice fields by quadbike, and it didn’t disappoint!

Other than getting extremely muddy (some of you will know why this is a pretty big deal) the 1 – 2 hour tour exceeded my expectations. With stunning scenery, exciting dirt (mud) roads, water buffaloes, cows and other animals, as well as remote villages to see. The crash course on how to drive a quadbike was also sufficient, if you had trouble picking it up, an instructor would ride with you.

To top it off, after realising that I wanted to see the water buffaloes but couldn’t bring myself to wade into the mucky waters filled with unknown creatures, this quadbike instructor carried me through the waters to the buffaloes! What a babe!

More to come so keep reading here!