The Angkor Archaeological Park is amazing, nothing quite like anything you’ve ever seen before. But if you’re like most travelers, the visits to various temples with hordes of tourists can get a bit hectic, and you probably will feel the need to take a break from the routine touristy things you’ve been doing. I know we did!
So, we decided to join Khmer Ways Moto Adventures, a private tour agency that focuses on offering alternative tours to see the real Cambodian life.
From the moment we crossed the Vietnam-Cambodian border, we both fell in love with Cambodia’s countryside and we were craving to visit the Villages. But we had heard too many things about the dangers of stepping on land mines. We then decided to contact the experts at Khmer Ways to help us organize a tour to the countryside. And this has undoubtedly been the highlight of our Cambodian trip! It was definitely one the best things we got to do in a year of traveling thorough Southeast Asia.
Right from the beginning of our association with Khmer Ways, I was extremely impressed with how Mrs. Somrach, the manager, handled the tour. Her attention to detail, such as reminding us to carry even the littlest things needed on the tour, taking note of any food allergies we have and making sure that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians were catered to according to their preferences. This meant a lot to me, because I’m allergic to all kind of things, but I have never had any tour company asking for those details, I’m sure if you are allergic or vegetarian you would appreciate being asked those questions.
Narong was our designated tour guide. He picked us up from our hotel right on time. He then took us to a quiet road so we had the opportunity to get familiar with the scooters, before we hit the road. After a basic training and safety explanation, we were riding the scooters through the countryside and we loved it! It was the perfect way to absorb the scenery and a great way to experience how the villagers lived their everyday lives.
Narong was very cautious, always driving at a moderate speed and using hand signals and signs when needed. He made sure we were safe at all times on the roads. Narong is a very patient and knowledgeable man, too. He made the effort to educate us about the lifestyle of the villagers. He answered our questions with great patience and interest, never once looking bored or uptight. There was no way we could have taken so many pictures with the villagers without his help.
Life in the Cambodia’s Countryside
Apart from the beautiful scenery of the countryside, we learnt so much in each place we stopped at. I hope that the pictures and description shared below encourages you to visit this part of Cambodia.
Our first stop was at the Anchanh Primary School. The students were taking a break when we arrived. It was wonderful seeing them play just like any other kids in others part of the world, but something that got my attention was the fact that these kids had no shoes on.
After a few minutes of walking through the small building we met Mrs. Sreyroth Un, the principal of the Anchanh Primary School. She spent some time talking to us, telling us about the school system in Cambodia.
She didn’t ask for money, and just mentioned that the kids were in need of school supplies and clothing. She just graciously requested that we spread the word about the school.So, If you would like to support the Anchanh Primary School, please visit www.aboutasiaschools.org
At the end of the day, on our way back to Siem Reap, we saw the kids leaving the school riding their bicycles back home. This was the cutest thing ever. It was like watching a bicycle fashion show without the top brands. Some girls had cute hats; others struggled along, carrying other kids on the back of their bicycles, while the rest walked holding hands. We were greeted with happy smiles and screaming hellooos. Such a wonderful experience! It will be forever imprinted in my memory.
Close encounters with the villagers
I have always wondered how rice was harvested. So, Narong decided to stop at a rice field along the way. We had the wonderful opportunity of hanging out with some farmers who enlightened us on the process of growing rice.
While we were there it began to rain rather heavily, but that didn’t stop them from working.It amazed me that the weather did not put a damper on their happy temperament! (and they were not wearing anything special to protect them from the rain).
We got to take pictures with them, using sign language to communicate that we wanted to, of course! They were really happy to be photographed and so excited to see the pictures! It was such a thrill to see their faces light up on seeing the pictures – almost like they had won a lottery! Moments like these remind me of how grateful we are for having the things we have, things that we just take for granted.
Another thing that had aroused my curiosity was about the villagers’ homes. I wondered why they built them on stilts. Narong had an explanation for us. The houses are built on stilts because the country is prone to heavy rains and floods. The stilts keep the homes safe from flooding.
At other times, this is a multipurpose space. It is used for drying laundry, raising animals, for relaxing in on a hammock and even as a socializing space! Kind of like a porch version of western homes.
Tip: If you plan on visiting the villages, please carry with you something to share with the villagers, such as fruits or candies.
Lunch with a view of Trav Kot Lake
After the scooter ride and all that photography, we were ready to take a break and Khmer Ways could have not chosen a better place to enjoy lunch than a beautiful open hut – decorated with comfortable cushions. The hut is located above the Trav Kot Lake.
Mr. Narong made sure we relaxed with some cold drinks while he went off to prepare us a delicious BBQ meal – without a doubt the best meal we have had in Cambodia.
Despite of the weather conditions, the view of the lake and the sound of the birds was the perfect environment to enjoy our delicious lunch. I’m not sure how long we spent at the hut, but I can tell you it was so peaceful and relaxing. That was just what we needed to recharge our batteries before we continued our adventures around the countryside.
Chau Srei Vibol & Wat Trach – A cool mix of the old and new world
Back on the road, Mr. Narong took us on a detour. We parked our scooters and hiked up to the top of a hill. On reaching the top, we were delighted to find the charming Chau Srei Vibol temple ruin.
Chau Srei Vibol was built in the 11th century and right in front of it, was Wat Trach, a modern and colorful pagoda that was built in the recent years. This contrast of the new and old worlds was so startlingly wonderful – totally worth seeing.
If you’ve read this article, you will have gathered that I was completely satisfied with the Khmer Ways Countryside Tour. Right from start to finish, their planning is impeccable; their attention to detail is superb, totally made this a safe, memorable and absolutely fun experience! This was the highlight of our Cambodian trip.
We are the kind of people who like to do things on their own, but sometimes we know that having a private guide makes all the difference. I’m sure that we would not have been able to see all the things we saw and learnt so much about this part of the country in such a little time without the help of Khmer Ways. Before going on the tour, we anticipated a fun day and the team didn’t let us down.
So, if you want to have an exciting, authentic and priceless experience in Cambodia, look no further. I’m sure that you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. Being in control of your own wheels, you get to learn a lot more about the Cambodian way of life and get to capture it all in pictures. But don’t just take my word for it – here is a tripadvisor link, check out what other travelers have to say about this tour.
P.D: If you haven’t driven a scooter before, don’t worry, the Khmer Ways tour guides are well trained and can teach you how to do it. And if you decide at the end of the day, that you don’t want to drive, don’t panic, you can ride on the back of the guides’ scooters and still get to experience the countryside.
We are so grateful to the amazing team at Khmer Ways. This tour would have not been possible without their expert assistance.
To see the tour options and prices, please visit the company website.
Khmer Ways – Moto AdventuresWebsite: www.khmerways.com Email: ride@Khmerways.com Phone: +855 (0) 89 94 68 32 Cost: USD $70/person For more information about things to do in Siem Reap, check my Top 5 Things to do in Siem Reap Disclaimer: We were sponsored by Khmer Ways to go on this tour, but that didn’t influence my opinion. This article was written based on my actual experience. Visit Khmer Ways to learn more or to book a tour.
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