Apr 23, 2008
10 ways to know you're in Cambodia
1. Everyone is smiling. The children, the old men, the drivers, the business-people all walk around with beautiful smiles. It is a great morale-booster that brings us a wonderfully warm feeling towards Cambodia.
2. Crossing the street requires the deftest of skills. Any leftover Frogger aficionados will truly bask in the pandemonium and complexity involved in this once simple pedestrian maneuver: One step forward, three to the left, five forward, three back, right left, whoa…hurry, hurry hurry, tuk-tuk, Lexus, truck, car, moto, cyclo, run!!
3. Hot!! Humid!! Hot!
4. If walking is not your cup of tea, Cambodia has you covered. Whether riding on the back of a scooter, sitting in a trailer behind a scooter (tuk-tuk) , taking a taxi or being pedaled around, there are always dozens of options awaiting as you step outside. Last night I woke up and took a tuk-tuk to my bathroom. It cost only 25 cents for a 10 ft journey.
5. Angkor Wat, the oldest temple in the world will absolutely blow you away. It and the many surrounding temples may possibly be the most incredible ancient architecture still standing in the world.
6. Beautiful children. Possibly the most beautiful of any country we’ve seen.
7. Favorite game in Cambodia: How many people can you fit on a motorized vehicle? 5 on a moto - no problem; 40 in the back of a truck -next challenge; 8 In a taxi - you want 4 - everyone pays for 2 spots.
8. Naked babies everywhere
9. People surviving despite their past. With Pol Pot’s reign of terror only 28 years in the past, every Cambodian was directly affected by the over 1.8 million victims of the mass genocide that occurred between 1975 and 1979. His goal was to create a world of un-educated farmers and he killed anyone who was not. It is one of the saddest histories you will find in a country yet the Khmer people live on with smiles, humor, and a persistence to push forward.
10. If the weather does not raise your internal temperature, the food will. Mild is hot, hot is face-numbing. Fish, ginger, peppers – the Khmer food is a wonderful delicacy.
It was a brief but wonderful visit to this country of impossible contrasts. The people are genuine, their government is not. The capital of Phnom Penh is lively, it’s history is anything but. Cambodia has raised the bar in Southeast Asia. Our next stop is Vietnam.