In Search of: Cambodia, A Country That Captured My Heart

Let me tell you about my friend, Cori.  We met sitting next to each other at a writer’s conference in Orange County, California.  She was in town from Cambodia, visiting her dad.  We shared a few laughs and a common bond over the struggles of wanting to write something prolific (nah, forget prolific, I think we’d both settle for something pretty good).

Someone in our conference session collected emails and started an online writing group.  The group soon fizzled, but Cori and I connected on Facebook and thus stayed in touch.  We commented on status updates and pictures.  We emailed occasionally about writing and travel.

And then one day I showed up in Thailand, and she said, “You’re in Thailand? You absolutely must come to Cambodia!”  Okay.  Perhaps those weren’t her exact words, but I’m fairly sure they were something to that effect.  And just like that, I was off on a whirlwind trip to another country.  It’s amazing how a shared Facebook bond can connect two would-be strangers from halfway across the world.

While in Phnom Penh, Cori opened her home to me (and her washing machine).  It was like being welcomed home.  She treated me as an old friend, and I learned a hell of a lot about hospitality from this woman.  I won’t forget it.  For that (and much more), Cambodia ended up being one of the absolute highlights of Southeast Asia.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.  As a matter of fact, I certainly hope I do.  That country captured my heart.

When I arrived at Cori’s, she wasn’t planning to stay in town long.  She had plans with her daughter to drive to a town called Kampot.  Just outside of Kampot was a guesthouse/river lodge that Cori had stayed at a few years before.  She made no promises as to its current condition, but recalled a restful river retreat.  They invited me along.

Les Manguiers, the river lodge, turned out to be phenomenal.  It was the perfect mix of relaxation and recreation.  There was yummy food (and, coincidentally, the mango shakes were beyond fabulous).  There were bikes, kayaks, sun decks, hammocks, a Tarzan river rope and walking trails.  I’m fairly sure I could move in if the situation presented itself.  Seriously, if you’re ever in Cambodia, go to Les Manguiers, the little retreat along the river.  You won’t regret it.

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