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Cambodia with kids - temples, tuk tuks and tantalising food

tuk tuk in cambodiaWe arrived into Phnom Penh airport early in the morning and were welcomed by bright sunshine and a line of smiling tuk tuk drivers. I was pleased to see the tuk tuk's here are much larger than elsewhere in Asia and fit the 4 of us and our luggage.  We advise the driver of our accommodation and off we go ducking and weaving through the bustling streets of the city.

ream national park cambodiaThere are more cars on the roads here than I expected, unlike Vietnam that is pretty much all scooters and pushbikes.  However Tuk tuk's are in abundance and we discover this to be the easiest way to get around during our 10 day stay.  The drivers will take you anywhere you want to go and will be yours for the day for around $20usd.  They will drop you back to your hotel and pick you up at a pre arranged times as often as you want and you just pay them at the end of the day.  They know the city better than anyone and our first requests were hairdresser, restaurant, massage place, atm then onto the tourist things, The National museum, the killing fields, the riverfront, the temples. 

We decide to walk the streets for a while, the people are kind, helpful and always smiling.  The sit on the street corners at their little Sihanoukville beaches cambodiarestaurants and shops welcoming you to take a seat and join them.  Food is cheap, full of flavour and there is a lot of variety.  We see a sign for a cooking class and ask if the kids can join in.  The look at us strange and say yes of course, we later discover that in Cambodia if kids are over 90cm tall they are virtually classed as adults with many of them working and looking after their families. 

The next day we have our cooking class which starts with a tuk tuk ride to the local market where we learn what all the odd looking vegetables and fruits are along with many unrecognisable animal bits Ta phrom temple cambodiaand pieces.  We then head back and learn to cook spring rolls and Cambodia's traditional steamed curry Fish Amok.  The kids are given no special treatment and do their dish from start to finish at their own work station just like everyone else.  I loved this! They were really proud of their finished meal.

We head down towards the waterfront just on dusk and find a massive park where there must be over 1000 people broken into large groups all dancing or playing soccer, doing martial arts, doing tai chi or out walking.  Its just an amazing sight and anyone is welcome to join in. We have dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront. You can eat and drink for under $20usd for a family of 4.

The next day we take the very scary bus to Angkor wat temple cambodiaSihanoukville a small fishing village down the South of Cambodia.  The beaches have become a bit of a favourite on the tourist trail, the airport is closed down so the bus or taxi is the only way to go.  On arrival we find that the little town has been well and truly discovered by tourism and although quiet now resorts are being built everywhere.  We settle in and spend the next 4 days just relaxing on the beach, swimming, visiting the markets, talking to the locals, taking boats out to snorkel the islands and visiting the nearby Ream national park.  Hawkers sell seafood from bamboo trays they wear upon their heads and cook squid over coals on the beach for Fishing ream national park cambodiayou.  The beachfront restaurants cook fresh bbq's and beer is just 50cents a mug. We relax here and enjoy it a lot. 

We move on now to visit the temples of Siam Reap.  We decide to take the night bus all the way which means a long 12 hour horror ride.  With the bus weaving its way along the bad roads avoiding animals and vehicles.  But to our surprise we arrive safe and well in Siam Reap at 8am.  Jump in a tuk tuk and its off to town for breakfast before heading to our hotel.  Our tuk tuk driver patiently waits out the front with our luggage while we chow down.

angkor watAfter checking in we head back to town to the markets and to check out the waterfront.  We visit a handcraft village where disabled people affected by land mines make the most amazing lacquered, painted and wooden products.  They seem to be doing well selling to tourists and I am really pleased about that as their are so many people missing limbs from land mines that it must be a monumental task for the country to provide work or an income for them all. 

There are quite a few people without limbs that move around the towns in Cambodia asking for money or selling postcards for income.  It never ceased to amaze me that even the poorest of poor Cambodians would always give someone worse off there small notes.  The whole country seems to work together each person giving part of what they have to the next person down the line.  Ensuring everyone can afford food for their families.  Its wonderful to see such generousity and sharing.

Josh and the local school kids doing magic tricks No visit to Cambodia would be complete without seeing the amazing Angkor Wat. An impressive temple built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Its impossible not to be impressed by the shear size of this temple.  It would be an incredible feat if it were built today let alone hundreds of years ago with no machinery only manpower.  We spend sunset and the following day at the temples there are actually many in the one region, all stunning and different. My favourites were Ta Phrom the temple with the enormous trees growing amongst it and the Bayon with it thousands of carved faces.

We watch a Cambodian dancing show that evening and head into pub street (yes thats its name), where all the tourists eat.  The kids have  a fish massage where you put your feet into a big aquarium and the tiny fish actually eat away all the dead skin cells.... yuk.  They close this street off at night, its great, very safe to get around and heaps of fantastic cheap eats to choose from. 

Sadly we must head off and get ready for our flights out the next day to Penang in Malaysia for our next adventure. 

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