Category Archives: Cambodia

In Search of: A Little Village Outside of Kampot, Cambodia

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One of the best things about my little river retreat in Kampot, Cambodia was the red dirt paths.  Meandering down the roads led me away from the guest house and into a rural village area.  I walked under the shade of trees as girls rode past on bicycles, a man worked in his the rice field and women chatted at a roadside fruit stand.  The cows stared at me as I stared at the chickens quite literally crossing the road.  It was a slice of heaven.

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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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In Search of: A Friend in Cambodia

After leaving Ko Chang, I hopped on a bus and headed to Cambodia.  A friend of mine lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capitol, and the plan was to spend a few days there and figure out the rest upon arrival.

The bus ride through Cambodia was entertaining, per usual.  We stopped at a rest stop to grab some food and use the toilet.  As I waited inside the bus, I watched this cow scavenging for scraps from food stalls.  She was quite the character.  The shop keepers kept shooing her away, and she kept returning to eat banana peels and whatever else she could get her paws on.

The traffic in Cambodia was beyond anything I had seen in Thailand or Laos.  It was insanity. The most accurate description I heard was that it was like water.  You had to go with the flow of the mass of mopeds and cars or you would end up in a wreck.  I wish I had a good picture of the traffic, as this doesn’t even begin to show the craziness I witnessed.  For one, these people are all driving on the correct side of the road!

Coincidentally, when I headed to Cambodia my friend had actually headed to Bangkok.  She made arrangements with her neighbor to let me in the house.  She would be back the next day.  Of course, my bus was several hours late, and we arrived rather late at night.  Aside from an address I couldn’t pronounce and the street map I couldn’t open on the computer at the internet cafe, I had no idea where she lived.  Instead of spending the night at Cori’s house, I opted to join two girls I met on the bus.  We searched for a decent guesthouse, ended up in what could only be referred to as a brothel, then finally found a “mini” suite.  And when I say mini, I do mean mini.  When we walked into the guesthouse and asked if they had rooms available, the man at the desk looked us up and down and declared, “Yes.  I think you’ll fit.”  We burst into laughter and decided we must at least see the rooms.  And although I had to duck to get in the door, it turned out to be a pretty nice abode.  We booked rooms for the night.

After, we headed to dinner at a great little restaurant on the riverfront, and I tried my first Cambodian food.  Yummy!

I took the advice on this sign at the restaurant to heart.  I ate an awesome meal of vegetable amok, then headed back to my room to sleep off that long bus ride.

And it’s a good thing I got a good night’s sleep, because finding Cori’s house the next day ended up being an adventure in itself!

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