Cambodian culture & experiences by Ethan

We flew into Cambodia from Perth, Australia.  Our first stop was the capital, Phnom Penh.

Because we had recently been to Australia, where it was pretty cool, when we got out of the airport Cambodia felt like a heatwave.  Mum and Dads first priority was to get their data because without it they would be utterly lost. So we stopped at a stall to get a Cambodian SIM Card first.

Then we got a taxi into the bustling city centre and it took around 5 minutes to get at least 10 metres – it was very slow!  Once we finally got to our hotel we were exhausted from the long day travelling and decided just to crash out in our room and eat pot noodles.

After a good nights sleep we got up and made our way out towards the palace, stopping to have breakfast on the way (I never knew cambodia made good croissant!)

Royal Palace

We wandered down the busy streets towards the riverfront where the some of the largests rivers in South East Asia meet.  Just 100m down stood the magnificent Royal Palace.

To be allowed to enter we had to wear the appropriate clothing (trousers to cover the knees, shoulders also needed to be covered because for some reason kneecaps and shoulders are rude?!)

Once we got into the palace we really got a feel for how big it was.   There was a number of palaces in the beautiful garden complex. While we were wandering around, one thing we saw a lot of was stray cats?!  After only a few minutes we really started to feel the cambodian heat, so without the river breeze it was HOT! This made it pretty hard to stay and look at anything for more than a minute.  So Jasper and I formulated a plan!

We started hopping from one shaded spot to another, until we found a nice breeze to cool us down. Then we made our way towards the second complex, where the silver Pagoda was.  

 

On the way towards the pagoda Jasper noticed pictures on the walls. We realised that they were actually stories being told – but we’d seen them before somewhere.

 

Nearby me and dad found a miniature version of Angkor Wat – the most famous temple complex in Cambodia.

Just as we were finishing up with the palace and the heat was really starting to get to us.  One of the palace guards started blowing his whistle, he came over to us ‘temple closed for lunch’.  Jasper and I were secretly relieved that we didn’t have to endure the heat anymore.

By that time we were also hungry for Lunch and decided to try some local food.  We went to a small restaurant called Davids homemade noodles and had Pork Dumplings, Vegetable Fried Rice and Beef Noodles.

That night we walked along the busy promenade towards Phnom Penh Night market.  It was quite small and not very busy. But we stopped and tried some local street food.  We ate tofu spring rolls, chicken Won tons and fried noodles. But it was extremely hot!

 

History of Cambodia

The next day dad went out to visit the S21 detention centre and Killing fields.  This is what I’ve learnt about the horrifying cambodian history. It all started in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge finally triumphed over the Prince after a civil war.  Their crazy leader, Pol Pot, wanted to turn cambodia into a place where got everything from nature and lived to the bare minimum. He had this idea when he was travelling in the Chinese Mountains looking at the villagers working.  

He decided to send everyone from the city and into working farms into the hills – which may not sound so bad but…  anyone who had the slightest amount of intellegence, wore glasses, spoke another language or went against the government were locked up, tortured and killed.  There were around 2 million people killed over his 4 years of reign. This was about 25% of their entire country. It was told that the Khmer Rouge killed an engineer because he was intelligent and also killed his entire family to stop them taking revenge!  The only reason it stopped was because the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and worst of all nobody knew about it! Pol Pot had completely closed off the country and only a few years after people starting learning about what happened and were horrified!

 

Battambang

After Phnom Penh we got a minibus north to the farming region of Battambang. While we were there we did some of my favourite things in Cambodia including:

 

Bamboo Train

If you have watched the show “all over the place” you will be familiar with that and lots of other places we have been to.  We sat on a bamboo platform on what looked like weights from the gym connected to a boat motor which powered it. It was about half an hour ride each way and it zipped along the lovely Cambodian countryside!  I really enjoyed it.

On the return journey we encountered another bamboo train heading our direction.  As there was only one track we did the obvious thing – they took their train to pieces and lifted it off the track.

 

Phare Circus

Later that night, we decided to go the Phare Circus.  We made our way into a big top and sat down on wooden benches.  The show started off with some local dancing. Then the actors came running out and gave us a show all about street kids.  Their performance was through comedy and acrobatics. It was pretty good. What really bummed me was dropping my popcorn!

Siem Reap

Our last stop in Cambodia was to Siem Reap.  The home town of the Angkor temples. Because we were going to the temples and it was going to be sweltering hot, mum and dad decided that we would get a place with a pool – finally!!  

We spent 2 days touring the temples of Angkor Wat.  It was really, really hot and got a bit boring!

They were ancient buildings, all with a different personality.

Some had trees growing out of them, some were on top of hills and some had faces on them which looked like they were staring at you!

But what I enjoyed most in Siem Reap and was waiting for most of my time in Cambodia was a Cooking Course!  We signed up with Lilys secret garden and had a great morning out at the local markets and in the cooking class.  

We made fresh spring rolls, khmer noodles with chicken and a choice of pumpkin and coconut cream or glutinous rice balls with dried palm sugar – yummy!

One night we went to meet another travelling family, the wylds!  We met at a restaurant called the Red Angkor and played with Willow and Marley up until around 11pm!  (and we had to get up at 7am!!) We had a great night chatting about pretty much everything and sharing travel stories.  

One of the funniest bits of the night was when Mum and I ate a deep fried cricket! Yuk or yum… I’m still not sure – but it was certainly one of the weirdest tastes ever!

We had a great time in Cambodia and I’d definitely recommend it!  Everybody was so lovely and the food was amazing!

Ethan

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