Let’s venture out of Siem Reap and away from the Khmer temples to sample the Cambodian countryside and village life.

Cambodia November-December 2016 (21 photos)

If you’ve been following my Lignum Draco and the Temples of Doom series (4 parts so far, to be continued), you’d be excused for thinking Angkor is all about the ancient temples of the Khmer Kings. But there’s more to the Cambodian experience if you have the time. Since I don’t actually know where I was for several of these photos, I think the title, “Lost inside Cambodia” is quite apt.

In many of the villages I visited, rice farming is a common source of income. It is grown in any suitable area they can find, harvested, dried in the sun (the road is the best place to do this) and taken to be sold daily.

Animals are used productively.

“Out of the way, dopey!” … Crocodile Dundee.

Water buffalo out of water.

A young boy in the water herding his water buffalo.

Some villages are based along or floating on lakes and rivers. Children row their own boats to go to school.

“King of the castle.”

I mentioned previously I was invited into the home of a villager for some food. My host was gracious enough to allow me to photograph her home. Most homes are just one big room, partitioned into various areas. This is the kitchen …

In the 1960s, Cambodia had a good education system and the literacy rate was high. But that system was decimated by the Khmer Rouge. Ideologically, they wanted to ensure that everyone was equal and that there were no social or oppressive classes. Those with an education were considered part of an β€œoppressive class” and were executed.

After the Khmer Rouge years, schools and the education system had to be built up from scratch. Today only about half of school age children attend school, and even then schools are so crowded that often more than 80 kids are squeezed into a classroom. It is not unusual for schools to have a morning shift for one set of students and an afternoon shift for another group.

We got caught just as the children were being let out of school. These 3 children acted as their own traffic wardens. They would wave their arms and run directly toward any cyclist or motor cycle rider who tried to break through.

Look at all those children staring at me.

I’m not sure why but children seemed fascinated by me.

I was wandering along the road when these 2 children tried to sneak up behind me. Without hesitation, I swung around and took their photo. Caught, they walked on by but I made sure I saw them walk away before turning my back on them again.

This little guy just rode up to me with his sister and pointed at my camera so I obliged. Not wanting to spoil the moment I committed the sin of not watching my background but the smile he gave me when he saw his photo made up for that error.

Moooving right along…

“Yes, we have no bananas.”

Some villagers set up roadside stalls. Each area has its “specialty”. Here in a mountainous region it was fresh bananas.

I’d never eaten red bananas before. The vendor was happy to oblige me with a free taste.

Bananas are a popular food in Cambodia. These were being sold in a local village. Bananas wrapped in sticky rice and wrapped in a banana leaf to be cooked over a fire. They were very tasty.

On the other hand, these dried lungs didn’t look as appealing. Go figure.

Over at the Weekly Photo Challenge the topic is It IS easy being green. I must admit posting a green gallery of photos is easy when posting photos about the Cambodian countryside.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Lost inside Cambodia


53 thoughts on “Lost inside Cambodia

    • I’m Australian. Certain quotes from Crocodile Dundee have passed into folklore. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Lake Yonle Sap is a massive lake with plenty of feeding fivers. The Cambodians make full use of them.

  1. KG says:

    Cambodia in a lot of ways resembles the countryside of interior Tamilnadu or Kerala (southern states of India). The steamed bananas, the coconut water are quite common here too πŸ™‚ The only difference I saw was that their coconuts were double the size of what we get in Tamilnadu.

    • That’s what I was told. Lungs.

      I didn’t doubt it at the time as there were other “prepared” animal parts at the same place, including a blackened cow’s head. I took a photo of it but I won’t put it online. All for medicinal purposes I was told.

  2. Visiting the iconic sights is one thing, but experiencing daily life of locals is a much more fascinating experience. Interesting to learn about the school situation. Your photos reminded me of my Thailand trip in 1992, before mass tourism took over. So many rich sensations in Southeast Asia.

    • It’s why I don’t like group tours, unless there’s a particular indication to use one. I think we’re on the same wavelength about that. It’s better to immerse oneself in the environment. There is a richness of culture which is being re-established following the Khmer Rouge years. Sadly, along with the killing of “intellectuals” and the education system, many of the cultural aspects of life were destroyed. Actors, poets, artisans, etc were all killed. Much was lost during that terrible period.

  3. sono senza parole! ( e ce ne vuole a lasciare me senza parole, ha ha ) è tutto così straordinariamente vero e naturale! ne sono profondamente affascinata!
    Grazie per tutto questo

  4. A beautiful set of photos tell the stories of the “Lost inside Cambodia”. Kids look happy to see visitors. It must be a memorable experience of visiting the local people and family and having homemade dinner with them.
    Thank you so much, Dragon for the remarkable virtual tour!

    • Thank you, as always, Amy. I tried to experience as much as I could. I had the freedom to do so, not being on a group tour. There were plenty of memorable moments. The people are so friendly.

      PS Don’t know why but your comment was in my spam bin. The same happened to me a few months ago. Must be a random event/glitch in the system.

      • My experience going with the group tour was frustrating. Glad you found a reliable private tour guide. The one we hired in BKK was very nice and friendly, but gave no background info of the place.
        Thank you for letting me know about the spam bin, I then went to my spam bin and found 4, 5 comments…. I think WP is testing my patience. πŸ˜‰

        • Tours are fine when they meet a specific need, but I prefer to travel independently when safe and possible. Like anything, tour guides are of varying quality. Mine was personally recommended to me by someone I trust so I had no hesitation to use him.
          I make a habit of checking the spam bin every few days, just in case.

  5. Curious that those kids would smile having never seen a dragon before….and, by the way, it has long been accepted and understood – having first appeared in the Official Culinary Annals of Dragons – that dried lungs are considered a delicacy and rare treat, usually saved for a victory celebration…you know…think Tolkien…gold…Laketown…

  6. It looks like such a simple life there. Love that smile of the kid. He must like his photo taken and so pointed at the camera. It is amazing to see how simple their lives are with limited resources. But great food. Lots of it 😊

    • Perhaps our lives are as complex as we choose to make them. Maybe that’s why we reminisce about the simpler times of our youth. Regardless, Cambodia is one of the poorer countries of this World yet the people seem so happy.

      I ate very well in Cambodia. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  7. For what looks like a poor nation those kids certainly have plenty of smiles – love your capture of the little boy and his sister – they must have been so thrilled to see a dragon in their midst! Away from the tourist trail you have found a lot worth seeing.

    • Thanks, Jude. Seeing that boy’s smile was a just reward. If only I had one of those instant cameras so that I could have given him a copy on the spot.

      As you know, getting away from the tourist hordes yields many benefits.

  8. Very interesting post, LD. How long were you there? We were there for 3 days, I think. Our tour guide told us a couple of schools were built by foreigners. I was moved by that. Wish I had a chance to see more of their daily livings.
    Have a great day.

    • Thanks. I was there for 10 days. I had originally planned 2 rest days but my guide said if I didn’t mind, there were many day trips we could do and he was right. So in the end, no rest days.

      Many of the temples are being restored with the help of specific countries. Similarly, foreign countries are helping to build schools and provide healthcare. It’s great to know that is happening.

      Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks, LD, for answering my question. I am sending some Cambodia kids to your blog so they can see how beautiful their country is. I can’t wait to hear what they say.

  9. Beautiful pictures Mr Dragon. When I lived in Japan the children were very curious about me. I went to give a talk in a school one day and when I stood up to speak there was a collective gasp from the children along with words like giant and so tall. I’m 6ft and fair haired so I did tend to stand out a bit. πŸ™‚

  10. LB says:

    Once again, you’ve taken me there. Excellent post … except for reading about the execution of the educated. Having said that, i firmly believe we have to raed about the things that make us uncomfortable.

    • Thank you very much. Much of Cambodia’s knowledge and culture was lost during those years. Extremists have a habit of doing it. We’ve seen it in recent times in the Middle East. Let’s hope we learn the lessons of history.

  11. What amazing photographs. How frightening to think of them killing off the educated. It’s like a whole different world/time period. What a difficult time they’ve had. And I could have gone forever without the dried lungs. Do they eat them? And, if so, why??? :O

  12. What a wonderful insight to a very different world!! πŸ™‚ I can’t imagine what it must be like to teach 80 kids in one class… wow, scary thought! Although I bet those kids are much more well behaved than elsewhere in the world. I eat a lot of wholegrain rice these days, and not so much bread. The rice I have comes from India, and I often wonder about the people who work in those rice fields and the journey it takes before it end up on my plate! πŸ˜€ And those bananas… are they average bananas? I’ve never seen red ones before!

    • I suspect the desire for knowledge is a more important instinct for these kids in view of their country’s not so distant past.

      It is eye opening to see the beginning of the food chain, how these farmers earn their existence producing what might cost us only a few dollars to buy.

      Red bananas have a more fibrous texture than I’m used to. Very sweet though.

      • I would expect it is yes. We take knowledge for granted generally, and yet, we also seem to not have enough of it either. Oh, interesting, I shall have to look out for red bananas in the supermarket! πŸ™‚

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