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Loose in Cambodia


CAMBODIA | Saturday, 16 February 2008 | Views [473]


Touch down! After just over 10 hours of flying I stepped out into the warm Khmer air and was immediately confronted by a scrum of tuk tuk, moto and taxi drivers competing for my attention. Luckily my name was printed on a brightly coloured card held by a young man. As I gestured to let him know where I was and walked around the corner towards him I was greeted by two Khmer women from the Fred Hollows Foundation – Somin and Sophavid. Both spoke fluent English and once I started getting used to their accents I could understand them quite easily. I was glad I had two local guides especially when we entered the Khmer traffic! It appears that there are no consistent rules when it comes to driving in Cambodia. Cars, mototaxis, tuk tuks and pedestrians share the road in a frenzy to get from A to B in the shortest time possible. This meant zig-zagging through convoys of motorbikes and wayward busses doing 3-point turns in the middle of main roads! Chaos it seemed but accidents appeared rare. After breakfast we made our way to the Russian Market. Here was a rabbit warren of stalls with everything on offer from fresh produce to counterfeit CDs and DVDs. Bargaining is difficult but recommended so you don’t get ripped off here. It seems like a game to the locals to get a good price and they sure start them young! A Khmer boy who was no older than nine years old was selling books in a mobile stall strapped around his shoulders - kind of like the drink sellers at the football. You would think children wouldn’t be as sales orientated as the more experienced adults but how I was wrong! This sales savvy junior looked at me with his eyebrows narrowed after offering what I thought was reasonable for one of his books and he returned, “Listen miss, I don’t do cheap.” He got his sale, however, for an agreed price.

Next it was on to the National Museum where ancient Hindu and Budda archaeological treasures recovered from the country’s temples were on display. Some dated back as far as the sixth century.

After returning to the hotel for a much needed rest we all went to dinner where I was introduced to Sam Ath – the Fred Hollows Foundation country manager. Dinner conversation included what strange things I should eat on our way to Kampong Thom tomorrow.... Fried spider, anyone?

Tags: Sightseeing

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