Welcome to Part II of our Ultimate Cambodia trek with Geckos Adventure. If you missed part 1: Make sure you check it out before continuing reading.
Here we share with you what we got up to on days 5, 6, 7 and 8 with giant tarantulas, kids playing with fireworks and what its like to live with a local.
Day 5: Arriving in Kampong Cham – Where Are The Tourists?
Our morning began by checking out of our hostel in Siem Reap that we had all became a little too attached to and thrown out onto the streets to catch a public bus. Even though the promised idea of passengers with chickens weren’t present on this ride I think we all breathed a sigh of relief once we all realised the public bus really wasn’t all that bad.
Our destination was Kampong Cham and besides our homestay in Chambok – this place had the least amount of tourists present on our entire trip. This meant there was a grand choice of two restaurants to eat at and a city that didn’t contain hundreds of novelty gifts.
After we chowed down our cheap lunch and ice mocha whilst enjoying the views of the river we all jumped into our favourite form of transportation, the tuk tuk (don’t tell me you already forgot?) and headed towards Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei which translates to Man Hill and Women Hill respectively.
Here we heard of the sad stories of the thousands that were murdered in the killing fields that sat between the two hills. The backdrop of the beautiful buddhist temples, statues and historical landmarks littered with monkeys were so interesting to see and hear about.
If seeing another temple isn’t your thing, don’t worry just wait till you jump out your tuk tuk to explore the local surrounding village. Here we got to see how millions of Cambodians live – it really makes you appreciate how much we take for granted.
Our night ended with an invitation from our guide to spend dinner with his family. His cottage house provided some amazing tasting food and he even gave us free shots all night of his personal brew of tarantula whisky. I think everyone stopped after the second.
Included Activities: None
Optional Activities: Local dinner – $7USD and Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei tour ($10USD).
Day 6: A Little Girl Put A Live Tarantula On My Face & Someone Ate It!!
For once, our morning was free for us to slow down and take it all in. A sleep in was in order alongside a cheeky ice coffee before breakfast. This day marked halfway on the trip and it was going so fast we were thankful to slow down and take it all in.
On our way to Phnom Penh the highlight of the day was in the form of a stopover in spider town. Here a little girl literally threw a tarantula onto my shirt before placing it onto my face. I think I need to re-assess how much I trust these local Cambodians. Some of the other #GeckoSquad members tried eating one with most claiming it tasted like crispy fried chicken!
We had finally arrived in the Capital and boy was it busy. Luckily we were able to find an ATM to top up on snacks and bug spray for the rest of our time in the country. If we didn’t recommend mozzie spray before, we are now – bring loads of it.
Our afternoon tuk tuk tour continued the local cuisine tasting as the rest of our companions tried fried frog and more, before we all ended our night with one of the funnest bumper car competitions we have ever been in!
Included Activities: None
Optional Activities: $7USD City Tuk Tuk Tour
Day 7: Living In A Local Cambodian Family’s House
Due to arriving late into Phnom Penh the day before, our scheduled tour of the killing fields and S21 prison museum was pushed back to today. This emotional but insightful day was unbelievably eye opening due to having no prior knowledge of what happened in Cambodia. In the 70’s over 2.5 million Cambodians were killed or died of starvation during the Khmer Rouge and being able to see the fields where many died was heartbreaking but fascinating.
A 5 hour bus ride out of the capital and into the rural areas of the country lead us to the eco-tourism community known as Chambok. Here we got to truly experience what it was like to live the village-life amongst locals. We spent the night with a local family who provided us with a thin mattress, a mosquito net and a car battery to light a small globe. A 10/10 experience… even if comfort was 2/10.
Our evening consisted of dinner at the local “Woman Restaurant” initiative which seeks out females in the rural villages to prepare and cook for travellers spending time in Chambok. If you were after that true farm-to-table experience then it doesn’t get more local than watching your tour leader catch a chicken and then prepare it for that night’s feast.
We ate, drank and watched the sunset before the night’s presentation – a traditional dance by the local Chambok children. Today was one of the most memorable days on the entire trip and not because we ticked off a bucket list, but because we go to experience what it’s like to be a local Cambodian for the night.
Included Activities: Chambok – Traditional Dancing and Dinner at “Woman Restaurant”
Optional Activities: Phnom Penh Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Prison Museum (S21) – $21USD
Day 8: Let’s Go To The Beach
Being Australian meant that heading back to the beach was going to automatically be a put a smile on our face. Before leaving we were thankful to have the whole morning off to explore the beautiful natural surroundings of Chambok.
No shower at your homestay? No worries we just drank our morning coffee and hiked up to a fresh waterfall to bathe in. After being sufficiently cleaned we said our goodbyes and thanked our homestay family for having us before spending 4 hours in the bus to arrive in Sihanoukville.
Just over the halfway mark meant clean clothes were starting to become scarce. I think the team at Geckos somehow knew this would happened and booked us all in for 2 days here. This was enough time to drop a bag of washing off at the cleaners next door. Certainly a God send and reassurance that you only need to pack for about a week for this trip – if you don’t mind reusing the same clothes for the second half.
It wouldn’t be a beach trip if we didn’t get the whole #GeckosSquad together for a night beach dinner date. I have to admit I did skip the local food and opted for a burger. They always say you will have a bit of a culture shock when travelling to foreign countries, well tonight I saw small kids playing with fireworks!!
Included Activities: None
Optional Activities: None
Stay tuned for the Part III…
You can book the Ultimate Cambodia trip for $1075 per person for 12 days through Bangkok, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City.