Authentic Cambodia - Feb 4 - Feb 13, 2019
My wife and I spent a wonderful 10 days in Cambodia in Feb 2019 on a trip designed by Steve to see as much of the "authentic Cambodia" as we could in the limited time we had in-country. In short, to say that we enjoyed the trip would be an understatement. Steve's local knowledge and expert planning made all the difference - we hadn't been to Cambodia before so his suggestions and recommendations were absolutely invaluable. Our guides (Reya in Phnom Penh and Dy in Battambang / Siem Reap) and drivers were just fantastic, and all trip logistics (transport, hotels, restaurants/cultural events etc) were impeccably handled. Our trip really wouldn't have been the same without Steve's input...
We started the visit in Phnom Penh (to avoid the Chinese New Year tourist crush in Siem Reap) and had a great visit with Reya to the Royal Museum, National Museum, and the S21 Detention Centre and Killing Fields (pretty depressing, but obviously an important part of the country's recent history). Next was Battambang with Dy, in which we experienced the French colonial centre, saw the nearby bat caves at dusk (pretty amazing natural phenomenon), took a ride on the Bamboo train, and did a bike tour through local communities to see how they produce rice paper and other local products. Also saw the Phare circus one evening - definitely recommended.
Then onwards to Siem Reap to see some of the Temples of Angkor, including Angkor Wat. Totally amazing complex and history - with some of the oldest temples in the area dating back some 1,000 years - but the truth is you'd really need months to see everything! We also spent a morning on the Tonle Sap lake, which included a visit to the village of Kompong Khleang (only possible to drive through in the dry season when the lake level is at its lowest). Here we had a really heartwarming experience - whilst checking out the local fish drying process on an extremely hot day, a fortuitous encounter with lots of kids coming out of school and an ice cream vendor lead to about 70 ice creams being handed out to all the kids in town (plus a few adults as well). The cost was nothing but the happiness generated was incredible.
Aside from the sites we visited and the local cuisine, one of the highlights for us was the Cambodian people themselves - incredibly friendly, dignified, hard working. Truly amazing people.
But back to the overall trip - I can't emphasize the value of Steve's local knowledge in making this trip so memorable for us. I would highly recommend - especially for first time travellers to Cambodia - booking through Steve. And as for us, we will certainly be back in Cambodia sometime soon!