Most likely the most famous temple in all of Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat was on my must see list, but it wasn’t the only highlight of my time based out of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The temples are stunning, but I’m thankful it brought me to a country I’d like to return to.
I only had three days, and I decided to make the most of them. I spent a long day exploring the temples of Angkor Wat, meeting my tuktuk driver at 5 a.m. gave me an early enough start to see my fill of incredible temples.
On day two, I wanted to see the people and get out into the countryside. I found the perfect not too touristy tour with a wonderful guide. I learned so much. We started off biking along dirt roads in a small village. Here the children were excited to see tourists, something new to them. One baby even cried, as we looked unfamiliar. We continued biking to a daily fish market. Our bike tour was a great way to see smiling faces of the Cambodian people.
Afterwards, we drove out to Kampong Khleang, the less visited area of fishing villages. This area consists of ten villages and about 1,950 families. I was fasicinated by the people living there. Their houses were built on stilts reaching 10 meters high. There are two seasons, wet and dry. In the dry season, the people are able to farm a bit and access their home by land. In the wet season, the water reaches their porches and everything is done by boat. Even the chickens have their own coop on stilts!
I had lunch in one of these homes, it was lovely inside and I thought I could live in one, but I’m not sure how I’d feel when the rains begin. After lunch and a great discussion about the area, we took a boat ride out to the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, Tonle Sap. Along the way we saw a village that floats all year. It even had a floating school! How would you like to take a boat to school every morning? And what about recess?