When visiting Siem Reap, it was obvious to visit Angkor Wat, but I knew I want something else, something more unique too. This post is not sponsored in any way, I only share my honest opinion.
I looked at many options and I decided on a full day (10 hours) countryside visit with a private jeep tour. This was not cheap, but for me it definitely worth every cent. I feel I paid the money so we can have the company of a local, lovely tour guide only to ourselves and we can go around the countryside without meeting any other tourists all day.
Our guide, Chili (I will write a post about him later on) picked us up at 8 am from the hotel. He drove us with a real jeep, that was made in 1969. It was a very unique experience to explore the countryside with this car. The road was quite bumpy, so the jeep was ideal.
We spent the first 1.5- 2 hours driving around the nearby villages slowly, so we could see how people actually live. The children were so adorable, they were always smiling and waving to us.We saw children enjoying themselves and playing in the mud and in small natural pools. They also asked us to take a video about them, how can they jump flipping backwards 🙂
Once we arrived to the heart of the village, we took a bicycle and went for a 1 hour bike ride.
The amount of responsibility children have in Cambodia is totally different than what we are used to in Europe. These children take care of the animals, work in the fields and also they swim in deepwater in early age.
After biking through the village and empty fields we arrived to the real local market, something completely different than what we saw in Siem Reap. Here, people were slaughtering animals and peeling off the scale of the fish. The small and the noise was a lot to take in. People seemed to really like this place, they were talking around, making jokes and also promoting their products to each other 🙂
We also stayed in the village for a while, to talk with Chili about how people live here, what is their opinion on the world.
We left the village and went to visit the biggest lake in Southeast Asia, called Tonle Sap. This lake is providing water to the people of Cambodia, they filter it. The water level has up to 5 meter difference during low tide and high tide times. Unfortunately, there are many houses which are completely flooded, because in the past few years the water level generally increased, therefore many families had no choice but to leave their home.
This area is also home of many floating villages. Imagine, people live here and their only way of transportation is through boats! Some houses are standing on high wooden structures whereas some are completely floating. A couple of thousand people live in the area we visited. They also use the lake for farming and fishing, which provides them with basic food. This area has the same facilities as a real village, it has school, hospital, supermarket and everything is floating! We were invited into a local home for lunch. The people were friendly and kind, they also showed us around the house. They usually sleep on the wooden floor or on a thin mattress. Some houses have electricity, while others don’t.
We took a 1.5 boat ride around the village and went deeper to the lake itself. Seeing how people actually live on water in large community proves that we humans can adopt to any circumstances. Also, it makes me think how lucky we are in the developed countries to have such comfort as electricity, warm water and air-condition.
On the way back, our tour guide Chili offered to take us in the evening to visit a fancy local place, the beer garden in Siem Reap. The place was an open air beer garden with live music, far away from the touristic Pub Street area. It was considered a high class place because there were ladies/waitresses who would sit down to your table and not only serve you food, but also eat, drink and talk with you. We were wondering whether this could go any further and basically yes, it could, but it is not expected to.
This day was at least as interesting as visiting the Angkor Wat Temple. The complete local countryside experience was enhanced by Chili, who was open-minded, smart and told us his honest opinion on every matter. I hereby want to thank him once again for showing us so much in just 1 day.
If you ever come to visit Siem Reap, make sure to contact Chili: https://www.facebook.com/cambodiaupclose/