One of my most memorable experiences in Cambodia was when I cycled through Kampong Cham, over a terrifying bamboo bridge, and through the island of Koh Paen. After our home-stay Cambodian lunch, we hired a few petal bikes for $2 USD and took them all over the place. First we cycled through the main part of the city and everyone in town was MORE than excited to say hello to us as we zipped by. After we went over the bamboo bridge, I ATE IT and crashed my petal bike into the sand trying to avoid a horse and buggy… while operating my GoPro. Technically it was my fault, but…. Whatever.
We also cut across a few private bamboo and rice fields (which was potentially illegal) but soooooo worth it. It was really difficult to cycle through the vegetation so eventually I just got off and ran past the cows and farmers pushing my bike. We also stumbled upon a few hidden and underdeveloped temples, but I have no idea how to get back to them so ya’ll are a bit out of luck. I also ended up getting stung by a wasp TWICE as a sacred temple and dropped a few f’bombs in front of the passing monks and children. Whoops.
Most of our cycling adventure was just random wandering and I wish I could publish a comprehensive “this is how you break into someone’s back yard” maps, but Cambodia is still super under developed and lacks basic power and running water in most villages. Cambodia is one of my favorite places in Southeast Asia for that reason and because I genuinely enjoy struggling to communicate without English. When you challenge yourself to thrive in a country that you’ve never been to before that speaks a language you don’t understand, it builds character and understanding for other cultures.
Everyone everyone everyone NEEDS to go to a developing country to appreciate all of the blessings they have received in the past and those they have yet to receive in the future. Just being able to access the Internet and READ this particular blog post is a blessing.
Know someone dreaming up the perfect vacation? Don’t forget to share it with him or her!
Thursday 19th of February 2015
I loved what you said about visiting a developing country in order to appreciate the things you have. As a first-world resident I often try to put my privilege in perspective. When it seems like something is going really badly for me, I try to stop and notice how good things are overall. I've never been to a country less developed than Italy, and I would really like to go somewhere like rural Cambodia and see a truly different way of living. When I moved from the United States to Germany I thought that was enough culture shock, but put in perspective that was nothing. Thanks for this post!