Sitting at the airport, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, my mind started to wonder about this trip. Stunning, emotional, kind, intense, sad, sweet, beautiful, breath-taking… are some words that immediately pops up in my mind. Funny thing is that it was a last-minute decision, I hadn’t planned going there.
But as I was about to fly out of the country, a feeling came over me. I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness to leave. For the first time since a while, I felt alive. That was the moment I knew I fell in love with this beautiful country and its people. I heart Cambodia.
Everyone is so friendly and genuinely helpful (and not because they expect a dime from you!). Our tuk-tuk driver at Siem Reap went out of his way to show us different aspects of Cambodians’ live and traditions.
Thanks to him, we learned more about their ‘Send Pidor’ rice. This kind of rice is cultivated by using seed scattering method and is very popular because it requires small quantity of water. (yet it demands more water when it starts bearing crop).
And one day, after his work, he drove us to see how the palm sugar is done/cooked by Cambodian women!
But first, the man’s job is to extract the sugar from the sap of palm trees. Not every man is able to do this job, only the ones called “the climbers”! Many palms have a makeshift bamboo ladder to aid these climbers to reach the top. Trust me when I say it is really really high!
The raw sap is collected in bamboo tubes every morning and/or nights! Then, starts the woman’s job, more complicated – of course 😉
…………………………………………….The sap needs to be refined, so she slowly boils it over an open flame while removing the foamy impurities. I tasted the hot liquid sugar, and it’s yummy!!! For babies and small kids’ breakfast, the women pour this sweet liquid on top of white steam rice.
Once the sap is refined, the finished product is moulded into small discs of palm sugar. The palm sugar is slightly hard and crumbly. Cambodian men eat it every morning with their tea as breakfast!
It was great to witness all of it!
- As I walk down the street children approached me, just wave and say hello with a big smile on their face! Most of them wanted to practice their English. They were so cute!
- I loved the beauty and majesty of Angkor complex. Just incredible!
- The Khmer cuisine is amazing! My favorite was the Amok, a fish covered with kroeung (Wikipedia’s definition is ‘a complex spice blend of cardamom, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, cilantro and kaffir lime leaves’) and coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed! Super delicious!!
- Cambodia is really really cheap! You can get a decent room (without AC) for $5. Throw in hot water, and it’s maybe $8 top. Dinner with a drink rarely costs more than $5! I don’t know any other country where you can live with only $10 in hand!
- Any time of the day, I saw people in their pajama! It was so strange to see families sitting outside in really colourful and decorative PJs. They did look pretty comfy, but still do they even realize they are pajamas?
- Honestly the list could go on forever… but I’ll spare you the details! 😉
- That my baskets didn’t survive to this trip… I’ll have to find a new pair of shoes in Asia, and I am size 41! So this is going to be a nightmare (people have small feet in Asia )!!
- My night in the bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. I should have just taken a boat along the river… I am a water person, and everyone told me that the river scenic was incredible!
- I had one regret – I hadn’t spent enough time… but, I promised myself that I would come back….one day…