Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cambodian Impressions

Let me preface this post by saying this is completely kid friendly. I will be posting a subsequent blog that contains some of the more horrible historical events that will not be kid friendly. 

I’ve been in Cambodia for a few days now.  I can’t even begin to express how much I love it here. Compared to Vietnam, Cambodia is real Southeast Asia. While I loved Vietnam, I was shocked at the number of tourists. I really felt at times like I was surrounded by more tourists than locals. Cambodia is quite different. Tourist numbers are a fraction of what they were in Vietnam, even at tourist spots. Cambodia is also just generally what I Imagined SE Asia would be. 75% of the people here are farmers living off the land, which is absolutely beautiful. They are beautiful people with simple lives that make them happy. 

The country is by no means wealthy, although I have seen plenty of Porsches and Land Rovers in Phnom Penh, the location of the country’s elite. Most people here would not qualify as elite, though. In fact the level of poverty is quite striking. Yesterday at lunch, I was unable to finish a baguette that I had purchased. An older woman spotted it on my pile of dishes plates from the street. She walked into the restaurant and asked me for the bread. At first I thought she was seeking money, but when she pointed to the baguette I was almost in shock. Food is by no means expensive in this country, and yet she was still forced to beg for food scraps. It was quite eye opening. 

Another eye opening experience was seeing the street kids trying to make money. Twenty percent of kids aged 5-9 in the country are forced into work to supplement their family’s income. That number jumps to about 50% at the age of 10. As Americans we are so used to compulsorily education as a right. In Cambodia, families need to pay over $100USD a year per kid for school attendance. For a culture that tends to have big families, that can be out of reach. In comes child labor, an unsuccessful solution. Only 45% of kids in the work force actually attend school. Money can be a powerful thing and once profits are made, school can lose its luster.  I met one kid who was selling bracelets on the street. He was a bright kid. Eight years old, spoke English very well, and was absolutely adorable. He claimed to attend school, which I can only hope is true.  Based on his English skills, I do believe him.  August is a summer break for students in Cambodia, so perhaps it is merely a summer job for young Andy. 

This beautiful country is teaching me a lot about the world and the privileges we have in the US. I’ve only been here 3 days and Cambodia has already stolen a piece of my heart. Next stop on the tour: Siem Reap, home to the famed Ankor Wat. I’m ready for another once in a lifetime experience 😁

Ps:  this just happened. 

Yeah, that’s me eating a deep fried tarantula. It was salty and hairy....


  1. Whoa, brave (or foolish) man with the tarantula. (AND I recognize the Mykita eyeglasses, too!) Enjoy AnGkor Wat for me. I want to see photos of orange clad Buddhists monks against that earthen grey temple!

  2. Hahaha, love that you know these glasses. They're awesome!