I shaved my legs

I don’t do drugs which is unfortunate considering they are so easy to get in Cambodia. 

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In the fall of 2014 I spent about 10 days beach bummin’ near Sihanoukville and Koh Rong which is in the southwestern part of Cambodia. There are a lot of foreigners who work at the bars in these areas for free accommodation which is great way to extend your travel and save $$$$. Take a ferry to Koh Rong for a couple of days and make sure to get the Thai food off to the left of the ferry dock. It’s AMAZING. I also went zip-lining in the pouring rain and almost broke a finger.  If you like nice and quiet then DON’T GO.

Of the beaches, I really preferred staying on Otres. It was a quiet beach just about a four mile bike ride from Sihanoukville. I was happy to just read, kayak, relax, toss a frisbee, and watch the sunset. 

Fun Fact: Women walk around the beaches needing work and offer services such as pedicures, massages, and threading your legs and anything else that needs to be shaved. It was both painful and very ticklish. It was about time that someone pulled off all of that hair on my legs. 

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The Killing Fields

When I got to Cambodia I immediately read the book “First They Killed My Father”. I bought it from a man on the streets who had no arms or legs. That was the norm over there. A lot of people had run into landmines in the recent past that had destroyed their bodies. The book was about a girl who came from a well-to-do family and was forced out of her home in Phnom Penh. It goes on to explain the history of the Khmer Rouge (1975-79) and how their leader Pol Pot led a genocide that destroyed most of Cambodia and the lives of those who lived there at the time. During these years about a quarter (2 million) of the population was killed. 

Going to the killing fields was the saddest place I  had ever seen. Walking through a place where you have the chills the entire time and don’t want to say a word because anything you say will be wrong. I listened to an audio background while learning about what happened and how the people were killed. The part that hit me the hardest was that there was an alter of skulls, you could still see people’s teeth in the dirt, and they would kill babies by bashing them into trees. I had no idea that this had happened not even forty years earlier. I took no photos because I didn’t feel comfortable taking out a camera. 

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The hour ride from Phnom Penh to the killing fields

“I think how the world is still somehow beautiful even when I feel no joy at being alive within it.” 

-Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father

To read more about the history of the Khmer Rouge and how it effected Cambodia click here.

Monkeying around the temples of Angkor

Have you seen “The Jungle Book?” Well, if so, you are basically going to be on the set of the monkey temple scene. But for real – Monkeys and temples – EVERYWHERE. Those monkeys are cute little thieves.  

I was fortunate to spend three days exploring the famous Angkor in the fall of 2014. I was given the option to either buy a one-day pass or a three-day pass and I highly recommend the three-day pass if you have the time. There are way too many temples to explore and one day will be a bit hectic. The Angkor National Museum is a great place to visit beforehand to get a little background on what you will be seeing. 

Here is how it was done:

Day 1: Bicycle ride around the small circuit.

Day 2: Hire a tuk-tuk to take you to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Yes, it is very touristy, but that happens, right? Just do it. Continue onto the grand circuit for the remainder of the day.

Day 3: Rent mini motorbikes and explore what you have not yet seen.  

 

This was one of THE BEST sites I have ever explored because the temples were each so UNIQUE and GINORMOUS. Some of my favorite pics of that trip posted below.

Tarantulas taste like chicken nuggets

I stayed in Siem Reap for almost two months coaching soccer and hanging out. Siem Reap is a really great place to settle for a short period of time. There are a lot of expats who live there volunteering or working. While I wasn’t coaching I would be biking to the different villages, reading, visiting the markets, getting massages, watching naked babies run around, and eating all of the street food. 

Advice:

Soccer in Siem Reap

It’s August. It rains. A lot. Not that Seattle drizzle type. REAL RAIN where every few seconds the tuk-tuk splashes through a pot hole and you wonder if it doubles as a kayak. I spent six weeks in the fall of 2014 coaching soccer to kiddos in Siem Reap through an organization that works with multiple NGOs throughout the area. I would spend each day heading to a new village to play sports with kids ages 4-12.

My life at this time:

  • Early breakfast at the guesthouse
  • Take a tuk tuk to a village within an hour-ish commute
  • Play soccer, volleyball, ultimate frisbee with the kids for 4-6 hours
  • Drive back
  • Wash my clothes while in the shower – for real – that’s how the laundry got done
  • Bike to dinner and stick to my $2 a night dinner budget – mostly street food at a cart near my place
  • Read, swim, wander, go to the market, get a foot massage
  • REPEAT

It was so much fun playing with the kids. My life was ALL SPORTS and ALL PLAY. What more could I ask for? 

And then there was the tear-jerker:

There was an orphanage that I went to a couple of times a week. It was about to shut down because they couldn’t make the payment of $300 USD per month to run it. One day the kids were all playing soccer on the cement and I was confused as to why they were all just wearing ONE cleat. I later found out that there had been a donation of shoes and although there weren’t enough in the right size for everyone, they wanted to share so thought that ONE shoe was better than NONE. That created a meltdown later in the evening for me. 

Some other volunteers I met were teaching English just outside of Siem Reap. To read more about what life is like as a local click here

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