Sunday, February 17, 2013

Living with a Cambodian family

One of the highlights of my Intrepid tour in Cambodia was the opportunity to have a home stay with a local family.  After our tour of Sambor Prei Kuk we drove less than ten minutes to the home where we would spend the evening and night. 

In retrospect it was a wonderful experience although I must admit I found parts of it a bit challenging....bear with me here...

We stayed in the home of our local guide's mother-in-law - the home was built in 2000 so was quite new and very clean.  All cooking is done below and we slept in the house above.  I am not sure where our host slept -at her daughter and son-in-law's home I suspect.  Having guests overnight is not a nightly occurence but it certainly provides our host with a welcome supplement to her income.  Intrepid is very committed to supporting local people and businesses.

Here is a picture of where we stayed.  

After a welcome cold drink we went on a neighbourhood walk ending up in a field watching the sunset over a are some of the sights we saw on the walk...

Young gal tossing rice to get rid of the grit

Just off the main road

Ox cart

Local houses


We enjoyed a home cooked meal that evening. Sorry, no photos - it was a simple meal but good. (that much I remember!)  I missed the memo about bringing my towel with me (it was in the van in my suitcase at the very bottom of a pile of suitcases) so I could not have a shower (which consisted of pouring buckets of water over yourself - would have been fun just for the experience!) 

So off to bed we went at the late hour of 8 p.m..  Well there was nothing else to do...  The upstairs was an open concept with curtains up between two mattresses together a- very thin mattresses I might add...  I quickly undressed, located my flashlight for later and crawled under my mosquito net.  I lay there trying to get comfortable on the thin mattress on the wooden floor. Everytime I moved the floor creaked and I am very restless - in more ways than one!  The household had two dogs - not pets...but watchdogs.  Well in the distance I could hear a small dog yapping and then one of the household dogs joined in and then another dog down the road howled backup.  I suddenly got the giggles which was not helped when one of the others in the group said in an exasperated voice "oh for God's sake" at the nonstop barking and someone else had a bout of flatulence. I was shaking with laughter and had to put my hand over my mouth to not laugh out loud - sleep was not an option.  I then realized all that laughter had stirred my bladder up so I then had to locate my flashlight, ease myself up (NOT easy when you have arthritic knees...let's not go into detail but my ascent was not quiet...and I don't mean my knees creaking..) and proceed down the "hallway" flashlight on the floor to locate my shoes.  Oh yes we had to take our shoes off and leave them right by the door - not any lower or the dogs would steal them.  So I hobbled down the stairs which I am sure was not a pretty sight but luckily there was no one to see it.  Off to the bathroom which was in the yard....thank goodness it was a western style toilet...stepping around sleeping dogs (they had given up the barking by then)   Then back up the stairs and repeating.  I had to be careful I pulled back the right curtain and did not plop myself on some poor sleeping soul!!! Luckily it was a full moon so the flashlight was not necessary outside - otherwise it would have been worse as no lighting anywhere.  Back to bed to lay there - although as my unfortunate "roomate" was Thyda I was informed yes I did snore so obviously I did sleep at some point.  I kept thinking "I am paying for this?".  Way too much like camping for me...I kept thinking "only one night, only one night".

The bladder did it's thing again so repeat as above at about 5 a.m.  Just after this the rooster competition started with one down the road doing it's thing and the family one showing off his 'cock a doodle doos'.  Although it sounded like he was strangling at the end - I would definitely vote for the other rooster.  Finally about 6 a.m. I heard voices so I quickly dressed (after a quick clean up with antibacterial wipes) and headed downstairs for coffee.  I survived the night!!  We used bottled water to brush our teeth  - brushed our teeth in the yard. It felt strange spitting on the ground!!  I can't even remember what breakfast was...I think I was still either in shock or over tired....I walked around the area a bit taking photographs. 

The kitchen area

Family home opposite the home stay

Breakfast - toilet and shower building behind

Our group with the hosts and family

Our local guide

It was an experience that I now appreciate...but I must say it was a very long night....I think the lack of privacy with just curtains around freaked me out as well (and I was terrified of falling asleep and keeping everyone awake with my snoring) as well as not having a proper wash and having to go up and down stairs to use the loo in the middle of the night. (damn my bladder!)    It made me appreciate how many many people in this world have to live...and it was one night of my life.  

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