Final thoughts on Cambodia

Drying pepper

Drying pepper

As we did when we left Myanmar, we thought we would put together a few of our thoughts about Cambodia. So, in no particular order, here goes.

  • I don’t think either one of us expected to like Cambodia as much as we did. Don’t get me wrong; we thought we would like it or we wouldn’t have visited. But we both fell in love with Cambodia.  We planned to spend 2 weeks or so and ended up staying 28 days.  Neither one of us can really put our finger on why we liked Cambodia so much, but we did.  Part of it probably has to do with the fact that 3 of the 4 cities we visited were completely chill and laid back.  Part of it probably has to do with the friendliness of the Cambodian people.  And part of it probably has to do with the food.  Whatever it is, we would go back to Cambodia in a heartbeat.
  • What we didn’t love about Cambodia is the awful wedding music. Apparently it is wedding season in Cambodia. Which means huge tents are set up all over the country for wedding celebrations.  Sometimes (who am I kidding, most of the time) the tents are right in the middle of the road.  Sometimes (ok, one time) the tents are less than a block from our hotel.  All the times the wedding venues play the worst music I have ever heard. At full volume. All day long.  All night long.  Sometimes for 24 hours straight.
  • Once you get out of Phnom Penh, the kids here are adorable. Yep, that just came out of my mouth (or through my fingers). They are cute and smile and all want to say hello and waive at the funny tourists. Some of them even make cute little grasshoppers made of leaves as free presents.  Never fear, as cute as they are we are not coming home with a “souvenir.”
  • I don’t think we have ever been asked so frequently how many babies we have. Our guide in Battambang explained that everyone wants to have babies because there is no governmental support for old people. No kids means no one to support you when you get old.  Good thing we don’t live in Cambodia.
  • The country is changing rapidly. When we were here 8 years ago, most homes in the countryside didn’t have electricity and tv was watched by hooking it up to a car battery. Now, we saw satellite dishes everywhere. When we were here 8 years ago, most of the countryside homes were made of bamboo. Now, they are frequently made of bricks or concrete (although I’m guessing the bamboo ones actually last longer given the quality of most construction we saw).  No worries though.  The “bathroom” is still right on the side of the road at whatever tree you like.  Even though modern gas stations complete with clean bathrooms now exist along the highway….
  • Many of the women wear flannel pjs when out and about. Like the type kids would wear with silly patterns. I could get use to that…
  • We were told that kids are not taught about the Khmer Rouge in school. People just want to forget about it. If that is true, it is very sad. How can we not repeat mistakes if we don’t learn about them?
  • If a temple is covered with dog feces and broken glass, and many of them are, we really don’t understand the need to remove our shoes. But we did it. And cringed.  And, after walking through a temple covered in who knows what, why do you want us to remove our shoes when we walk into a bar?  At that point, our shoes are probably cleaner than our feet.
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