It has been a while since our last post, I know. By now we have actually been living in Thailand for more than a month, but I just enjoyed the beach and the diving a little too much to think about writing. But behold, here is the next article about our trip to Phnom Penh.
We have never been to Cambodia before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. I had heard that it is even less developed than Vietnam, which had me a bit worried. As it turned out, a less developed country sometimes isn’t a bad thing – and sometimes it can be really stressful.
Travelling from Phu Quoc to Phnom Penh
We bought a joint ticket from Phu Quoc to Cambodia which supposedly was an easy trip. If you haven’t done it before, a trip like that can be quite unsettling. First we took the ferry to the mainland, where we waited for a bus to take us to the border. We gave our passports and 50$ to the lady from the travelling agency and hoped that we would get our passports back again.
After a while the bus arrived and took us and a few others to the border, which looked more like a slightly bigger gate in the middle of nowhere – we still didn’t have our passports back.
Since the bus didn’t cross the border, we were told to leave the bus, take our luggage and walk through the “security check” where we finally got our passport back. Stamped out of Vietnam, walked to Cambodia, stamped into Cambodia.
While we were waiting for our visas and passports to get checked, we saw all the Asian people walking between the countries without anybody even asking where they are going. So I guess if you look Cambodian or Vietnamese, you can just walk between the countries.
Then we had to pay 1$ for the “health check” – probably one of the most ridiculous ways of getting foreigners to pay money. Basically it was a little piece of paper you had to fill out that asked if you are sick.
We wrote “No” on it, signed it and paid a dollar each. Fascinating that they make us pay money to come here to spend money. I guess they haven’t yet figured out how tourism works.
We walked to another minibus which then took us all the way to Phnom Penh over highways that for most parts were just dirt roads. even though the road wasn’t paved, it was still a lot smoother that most paved highways in Vietnam.
Cambodia is beautiful
After more than 4 weeks in Vietnam we thought that Cambodia wouldn’t be much different. We were wrong. The countryside of Cambodia is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I don’t know what impressed me more, the Cambodian houses built on stilts or the breathtaking green color of the rice fields. It was probably the combination of the two that fascinated us so much that the 3 hours ride didn’t really feel that long.
The houses on stilts are a really cool adaptation to the climate there. Large parts of Cambodia a regularly flooded, which is very good for growing rice.
Most people wouldn’t want to live in an area where the floods hit every year, but the Cambodians just built there houses on stilts and that way they can benefit from the floods by having greater rice crops.
The Cambodians also build their houses along the road like the Vietnamese do, but they mostly do leave some trees and space between the houses and the road which makes the trip so much more fun. You can still see the rice fields between and behind the houses and your not stuck watching house fronts for 2 hours as your driving along the highway like in most parts of Vietnam.
Additionally there are many, many temples in the Khmer style along the way, which also are something really special. Of course, once you go to Angkor Wat, you will see even more of them, but it still is beautiful to see them within the countryside, surrounded by luscious green rice fields.
Cambodians are masters of transportation
We were impressed by the Vietnamese and their skills of getting lots of stuff on a single motorbike, but maybe the Cambodians take it to another level. It is hard to say if the Cambodians or Vietnamese get crazier with transporting stuff.
It’s just so much fun to see them pack 70-100 people on the back (or on the roof) of small trucks. I just hope they never flip, because that doesn’t really seem to be a safe way of travelling.
Who needs clubs if there are parks?
Certainly not the people in Cambodia. At night the public parks in the cities change into public dance scenes. Unlike in China, where people just dance with each other in the parks, the Cambodians dance trained routines they have seen in music videos on MTV or other music channels.
Depending on what age group you belong to and what music you like, you can just find a group with the same preferences in one of the parks and just dance away as soon as the sun goes down. We couldn’t figure out who brought the music and the speakers and it probably didn’t matter to the people there anyways. They just wanted to dance.
The next article will be about the famous Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh. So check back in – hopefully – a few days for another article.