One of the best ways to get the vibe of a country is to interact with the people and one place you get to see them relaxed are local tourist attractions. I happened to go to a couple of local tourist destinations. Tonle Bati was the local tourist spot I visited first after reaching Cambodia. A good site to relish the temple architecture that’s prominent in Cambodia, this spot also has some water huts put-up on a lake. I have heard its an awesome place to come and relax in the monsoons and after that when the lake has flowing water and hence devoid of any algae – summer was not bad either just that I could not take a plunge in the water because of high algae accumulation. After occupying one of the many huts in the array, you will have locals coming in boats with delicacies to munch. I got to have some really sweet Palm nut cakes (num thanout) and Lotus seeds there.
View from the water-hut in Tonle Bati
While on our way back from Sihanuokville, we managed to drop by Kabal Chai – another local tourist spot. Kabal Chai is characterized by a flowing water body (originating from a water fall) and tourist attraction in and around that water stream. After spending some time on the water stream, we packed our bags and settled on a hammock each near the water stream.
Biking on a bridge in Kabal Chai
This is when I got to have a Khmer grilled chicken – and yes you thought right – they don’t skin the chicken before grilling and a chicken leg does come with the whole leg (including its feet and nails).
The Khmer Wedding
A wedding reflects the culture of a place in a very rich manner and thanks to Niran’s friend at work we all went for a Khmer wedding two days after reaching Phnom Penh. Wedding happened at a province close to 40 kms from the city – but no regrets about the tiring bike drive to the province, the wedding was a truly amazing experience! The occasion was marked by ladies and gentleman in their best wardrobes and every single table decorated with some of the best delicacies of the Khmer land – Theya ang (duck) fry and Trai chamhoi (steamed fish with soya sauce) tak seiv to name a few. And ofcourse we dint break the Khmer tradition of drinking a lot of beer on the rocks with frequent cheers popping at every table.
At the Khmer wedding
After having managed to devour a lot of delicacies, we were asked to join the Bride and Bridegroom in their dance party. The dance here refers to people going around in circles performing a set of dance moves in an elegant fashion – two circles down and I started moving with the song (they had a band who sang the popular khmer songs). After the function got over, we started off for Phnom Penh after Niran handed over the envelope with our monetory contribution (a custom followed in some places in India as well, every guest puts in some money to cover up for the ostentatious wedding function that our host arranged for all the people to enjoy).
The bike trip to Sihanoukville
This, I’d say, was the best part of our trip! Couple of days after flirting with Phnom Penh enjoying the Khmer food and attending the Khmer wedding, we set out to Angkor bikes in the city to get our Honda XR250s – 3 of them. Sharath and Niran being a regular road-trippers there, I dint have any trouble getting a bike (from what I heard, they don’t entertain indian tourists usually). After one more day in Phnom Penh, we set out for Sihanoukville with Niran’s friend Saing Sowichea (he owned a Bajaj Pulsar 220). The 220 km side to Sihanoukville was exhilarating with our bikes treating us great.
Our ride during the road-trip
After spending the first day near the Sihanoukville sea port, we spent the second day on the famous Sihanoukville beach. I was told that the place becomes a livewire during the season (October – January). Nevertheless it was an awesome night we spent there on the beach. Next day we started off for Phnom Penh and on the way we stopped at Kabal Chai the local tourist destination. After spending the afternoon there, we set out for the capital and this journey was marked by some awesome torrential rains.
Written by Matthew John