Hello from my first proper day in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I arrived at 3.15 pm Cambodian time yesterday after a 2.30 am start in Darwin and was met by Sarry and the V-homestay tuk tuk.
After an unscheduled dash for petrol I got to sit in the tuk tuk and watch the world go by. Sarry engaged in world class negotiation to obtain to Coke bottles full of petrol and we were on our way again.
V-Homestay – like it on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/V-homestay-787501231296932/
Is a family business competing against the emerging and foreign owned tourism of Siem Reap. As I mentioned to Vanna (the owner of the homestay) today – I don’t come to Cambodia for a hotel.
I came to Cambodia for Cambodia and Cambodians – not a hotel and certainly not one owned by foreigners.
The homestay is very much like how a number of what you could call working class Cambodians live. They done okay and the homestay is just part of what they do to keep the family economy going. They’ve done okay for themselves.
I was greeted by my new best friend – “Puppy”. We had an early evening aperitif of spring rolls.
I amused my hosts by showing them the vehicle I had videoed on the drive from the airport. I commented “I want one of these buses”.
There was chuckling.
“Do you know what that is? It’s for carrying the dead person to the funeral”, Vanna informed me.
It’s not a bus. It’s the equivalent to a Cambodian hearse…
“Oh! On second thoughts I don’t want one!”
We then took a trip some 3 kms to the family farm plot. Under the moonlit evening we admired the burgeoning project of a home and farm for the family separate to the homestay visit. It will generate food and tours income (come learn about Cambodian farming tours).
Dinner was a lovely simple meal of curry and pork and rice. As was breakfast this morning.
The accommodation is very basic – but if you love homestays – it’s very good and the family are beautiful. The kids have promised to teach me some Khmer. So fair it’s just yes, no, hello and thank you.
The great thing about accomodation like this is that it’s not only a great experience but affordable. I get to see the real Cambodia without paying a lot of people to pay others – but direct to a family enterprise. A whole lot more of these would mean a whole lot less poverty.
Yeah, of course, this is not everyone’s travel ideal and the other styles of accomodation will never go out of fashion – but it sure feels good to my Buddhist sensibilities.
They are also proud to have a “5 star” western toilet in the back outhouse. It’s very flash indeed!
I woke up this morning to monks chanting just down the road and music next door. Lovely comfortable Asian style bed (they are hard but somehow comfortable).
I’m now recovering from running around the pagodas in the city centre….
Have a great Monday! More soon….