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First Glimpses Of Cambodia


Sunset over the Mekong, Kratie

After we passed the border to go to Stung Treng, we saw very few people, even less houses, not speaking of traffic. It seemed that Cambodia was a country without cars. A few ramshackle huts could be seen along the road. However, they were not made of neatly woven bamboo mats like in rural Laos, but a few planks hammered together. There was no electricity even for huts right on the main road passing to the capital and water was collected in big earthen jars.

The little time we spent in Stung Treng, we noticed that huge, rectangular blocks of ice were transported around on scooters. These were then cut in pieces using a little saw, something we never saw anywhere else. Also people looked different in Laos & Cambodia: the Khmer are darker skinned, with very different features.

Moreover, there is a huge difference in the way women dress. In Laos, the elegant sarong was the common outfit, but here in Cambodia, ladies dress in loose paints often made of the same material as the top, a style we saw a lot in rural China. Like in Laos, people here eat with forks and spoons, chop-sticks are only used in Chinese restaurants and for noodle soup.

Rural areas here seem to be more impoverished than in Laos. We also are not quite sure how to interpret the pushiness of street vendors and Tuk Tuk drivers. Are they more desperate to earn their money, is the culture and the way business is done here?

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