Just five months after we kissed good bye in Brussels, the Family (minus 4) gets together again. The setting could not be better. History, white sand beaches, rice fields and something very special at the end. Smile, look at the camera, stop moving, three, two, one… Cambodia!
These kids have lost weight
Your hair is way too long
And that beard needs trimming
Are you sure you are eating properly?
And were you not scared when you crossed [enter any country here]??
Alright, alright. I am glad to see you too, but hurry up, there is a tuk-tuk waiting for us 🙂
Each morning the group would be split into two tuk-tuks. They were perfect for day trips, roaming around temples and more importantly, for catching up on the last five months. And they were fun, so much fun. Especially when the other tuk-tuk flips over on a tight corner. And it happened twice! No casualties though, they said it was just bad luck – yeah right!
Although if safety is your main concern, fear not, there is a tuk-tuk for you as well. Why would you turn a car into a tuk-tuk escapes my brain, but then again, why not!
From Phnom Penh to the beach
Our journey took us all around the country, from big cities to small towns in the country side. Phnom Penh, also known in Spanish as Pom Pen or Penom Pen, served as the perfect introduction to the next two weeks: intense heat, a lot of history and a society divided into two well defined classes: the very rich and the very poor.
A visit to the infamous Killing Fields threw us back a few years into the dark era of the Khmer Rouge rule and its devastating consequences. It is heartbreaking to realise how the World allowed something like that to happen, especially when you learn that it was events like the Vietnam War that kickstarted it all. Superpowers fighting over control of strategic countries and local civilians suffering the consequence while everyone else looks elsewhere… sounds familiar?.
After the tough history lesson we headed south, destination the beach. A bumpy six hour long minivan ride and a chaotic ferry crossing later, we reached Koh Rong Samloem, and boy it was perfect. White-sand beaches, a bit of jungle, a lighthouse, very few people and a colourful wild life – it is hard to believe that such a small island can offer so much.
To top it all off, our lovely family managed to smuggle in all sorts of goodies from Spain so that we could celebrate our very own New Year’s Eve – including a very special Christmas tree. It was very emotional.
About pepper and other things
The story behind Kampot’s pepper is a fascinating one. The most sought after pepper in the world was almost wiped out during the Khmer Rouge in favour of rice production. Over the last 20 years, producers’ families have come back to claim their land and the production of the spice is, once again, on the rise.
Peppercorns come in four forms, Green, Black, Red and White. All of these varieties come from the same plant and are just different stages in the fruits maturity and using different processing techniques.
Further up north, Battambang quickly became our favourite place in Cambodia. Quiet, relatively clean and with a friendly atmosphere around it, that put this small town in a different world to what we had seen in Phnom Penh.
And, as it happened countless times during our rally to Mongolia, it was the unplanned encounters with the locals that made the trip a special one. There is nothing like being able to stop your tuk-tuk for a few minutes and witness how life goes by regardless of who is watching.
Food, let’s talk about food. And after that, the icing on the cake, Angkor Wat.