When I decided to go to Cambodia in 2009, I was told I should read, “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers.” The book outlines the struggles of the people of Cambodia during the Pol Pot regime but more importantly is a narrative of a particular young girl who survives the Khmer Rouge genocide from 1975 to 1979 which resulted in the deaths of close to 2,000,000 people (25 percent of the country’s population). They died from a combination of starvation, overwork and cruel and unusual forms of execution.
When I arrived in Cambodia so many things brought back to mind this compelling story. I saw the poverty and the dirt and grime and struggles they lived in and survived through and I think it made me actually take a closer look at the people who I think were as beautiful, resilient and fascinating as the land itself.
In 2009, I decided to take a trip to Cambodia. I was supposed to travel with an un-named friend (Ed) but this friend (Ed) chickened out on me and decided he would rather sit on a beach in Bali. I promised I would never bring up this incident again and I’m not blaming (Ed) really because I had high standards of extreme travel while my friend (Ed) only wanted a relaxing vacation with no drama. Needless to say I traveled without my friend (Ed).. (Ed you suck!)
Un-named Ed… not in Cambodia (Initially to be Bali but changed over to Thailand.. )
There were so many amazing discoveries on my 6 week trip through Cambodia. I met some of the most friendly people, boated through a floating village, saw ancient temples and rode in tuk-tuks and took guided moto tours through remote villages.
I read somewhere that in Phnom Penh alone there are approximately 2.5 million residents. Most of the people walk, bike or use motos or tuk-tuks as their primary form of transportation. It’s an amazing site to behold, the constant noise along with the site of the constantly moving, weaving and random stopping of all of these entities can put your head in a spin.
Cambodian drivers are amazing and seem to really know what they are doing.. though that is often seriously in question. The taxi drivers haul everything from people, animals, furniture, dishes and wedding or funeral parties.
While on the back of a moto I had to hold my breath several times while my driver had to maneuver through rusty buses, bicycles loaded down with bananas or sacks of rice. There were scooters with no less than 2 adults and 4 kids (known as the Cambodian mini-van) and 10 year old kids hauling their friends or siblings across town. At first glance it appeared to be pure chaos but after 6 weeks of traveling in this manner you began to recognize an ebb and flow of how things worked. I still would not want to drive in this hot mess myself on a scooter, but it was quite an exhilarating experience and opportunity that I am glad I had a chance to participate.
Though I mentioned Phnom Penh the traffic and transport was like this throughout Cambodia and my understanding it is the same in most of the other countries close to Cambodia. My experience on the moto was fun though I cannot imagine that being my only mode of transportation. I have attached photos of some of the most interesting transport situations I saw while in Cambodia. I hope you enjoy.
- I left my heart behind in Cambodia. (rerouteduproot.wordpress.com)
- Dollar Sam (My tour guide for a portion of my trip to Cambodia)
- My Cambodia Trip – Part I – Phnom Penh (speakingabouttravel2.wordpress.com)