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Cambodia - Angkor Thom - South Gate - Churning of the Sea of Milk - Elter photo

Cambdoai - Tonlé Sap - minimalist canoe - Elter photo

After the capital, we took a VIP bus to the Saen Monourom Elephant Reserve (Mondulkiri Project). We had planned to ride an elephant, but then the news came, but then we heard that an elephant had died of a heart attack in the heat while tourists depended on it on their way to ruin. That's when I decided I'd rather see rescued, free-living elephants. We stayed here at Tree Lodge Bungalows and loved it. We paid for a 2-day ‘tour,’ which included hiking 18 km in a wonderful place on the first day. In the evening, you sleep at the jungle lodge in hammocks.
   
A great experience. The food is divine, and the company is good. The next day came to the meeting with the elephants, who all have distinct personalities, but all that was explained there. They gave us bananas so we could feed them and pet them. Then we went to a smaller pond, where we got in and fed and bathed the animals in the water.

The next day, we went back to the capital. That’s where the travel chaos began. We had booked and paid for the bus online, but somehow the system went haywire, and the bus ended up overbooked. We received an e-mail at 10 pm, which we only read in the morning because we were no longer near Wi-Fi. So, as a result of some fraud and lies, we, unfortunately, missed one day, but we did make it to Kampot. It is also in a nature reserve. We had a bit of a rough time with the accommodation here because there are already a lot of tourists here. However, we found a rooftop apartment next to the river for one night :D I'm still crying: we climbed the tower above the bar and entered the room through a small door with a hip-high latch. It had a pleasant, cozy atmosphere, with just enough space for sleeping, but it didn't dampen the noise. In the evening, we went to the Arcadia Backpackers’ Water Park. You can stay here in public accommodation, and then entry to the water park is free. Otherwise, the entrance fee is seven dollars per person.

Since we lost a day, the next day, we immediately went down to Otres Beach next to Sihanoukville. This is where the doing nothing started :D Cute bungalows, delicious food, piss-warm water, and 35 degrees. Anyway, throughout February, it's 30-35 degrees during the day and 25-27 degrees at night. In the evening, we went to the famous Sihanoukville. You must expect it to be smelly, trashy, and unsightly. The Chinese have arrived and are building all over the area. Otres Beach is the only one they haven’t reached yet. It was a sad sight for me. There were two Hungarian guys with a stall selling lángos near the port, but we couldn't find them. By the way, it’s worth walking with your eyes open.” (Esther, 2019)



Practicals

Transport

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Cambodia - bridge - v.g. photo

Shopping

The currency of exchange in Cambodia is the dollar. Many people bring cash with them. It doesn't matter what currency. Though be aware that scratched, torn, or discolored bills are not accepted. However, the most common problem lately is ‘small-headed’ bills. In bills printed before 1996, there is a frame around the head of the famous person represented on the front side. These bills are thrown back on sight. The other type is the new bill, where they is no frame, and the head fills the front side.
The bank does not accept the small-headed variety. Therefore, neither does anyone else. You can argue about it, but it's pointless.
In Cambodia, it isn't very helpful and is not considered a currency. And you have no feeling of success if you manage to fob one off on a street vendor since you’re cheating him. Please check the money you take out in advance.
The small-head issue is a problem for other denominations besides the $1 bill.” (s.l., 2022)


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“Money exchanged when paying.
This trick is typically easy to fall for if you haven't heard of it before. I came across this trick in Cambodia, and it’s worth noting (as well as being important from the story's point of view) that the American dollar is an officially accepted and used currency in addition to the Cambodian riel. At least the money changers can't scam you because there's no need to exchange money, even if you arrive with only US dollars in your pocket.

How this trick works: In a restaurant, after the meal, they bring the bill to the table, which we pay on the spot. After leaving, the waiter came back to say that the banknote we gave was fake. It was a twenty-dollar bill, which couldn't have been fake because I had exchanged American dollars in China at a bank. So it is pronounced that this is a fraud, and they changed the bills, but how can we prove that we are right? I have paid a bill directly at the table in a thousand other places, where the waiter took the money back to the cash register without me being there myself. However, this has never happened to me anywhere else, so I did not expect such a scam to exist. The best solution is to pay at the cash register, meaning they must examine the banknote right before our eyes. I haven't heard of this trick from other countries (though, of course, that doesn’t mean the scam doesn’t exist elsewhere), but it has probably spread in Cambodia because of the use of the US dollar. There are also a lot of fake banknotes in circulation from China, so in pretty much all shops, restaurants, etc., they check the authenticity of larger denominations.” (2017)

Public safety

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Cambodia - alertness

Background

Cambodia - national flag with the white depiction of Angkor Wat in the middle - That is one of two national flags in the world that consists of the image of a structure; the other is one of Afghanistan.

Destination in brief

Cambodia in brief 

Cambodia, a kingdom, is a South East Asian country, part of so-called Indochina (with Vietnam and Laos). Cambodia’s neighbors are Thailand (north and west), Laos (north) and Vietnam (east and south). Cambodia has a coast on the Gulf of Thailand. 

Size: 181,035 km² (69,898 mi²)

Capital city: Phnom Penh

Population: 16.6 million (2020) - Around 50% of Cambodia’s population is younger than 15 years old! The population is ethnically very homogenous (96% Cambodian).

Religion: Buddhism is the state religion

Language: Khmer is the only official language 

Cambodia was under French occupation from 1863 to 1953.

Although French was the dominant foreign language in Cambodia for a long time, English has by now replaced it. Street signs in the country are usually bilingual, written in both Khmer and English.

The Khmer alphabet is unique, and considerably more complicated and difficult than the Latin one.

Currency: Cambodian riel (KHR) – USD is a de facto currency

Cambodia is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with an average growth rate of more than 6% in the last ten years.

Average net monthly salary: 200 USD (2020), but more than two and a half million people in the country live on less than 1,20 USD per day.

Most frequent surname: Sok

Birthdays are not celebrated in Cambodia, and older people often do not even know their date of birth.

In Cambodia, a person’s head, the highest part of their body both physically and spiritually, is considered sacred. It should never be touched by visitors (even children’s heads!), even if it is done in a kind and loving manner.

Cambodia is a safe country for tourists. Health and hygiene conditions are quite good, but not as good as in Thailand. Cambodians have insane driving habits. As a result, Cambodia’s streets are like a lawless land. 

 

Best time to visit: November-March

Must-see: Angkor Wat, The Temple of Preah Vihear

Cambodian leader Pol Pot, who came to power in 1975, is considered to be the most notorious war criminal in modern times (after WW II). More than one and a half million people died under his leadership of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Cambodians believe that counting a gecko’s chirps will tell you whom you will marry. The first chirp means you’ll marry a bachelor, the second chirp means a widower, the third chirp is a bachelor again, and so on. Keep counting until the gecko stops.

The method by which geckos count human singing sounds, and their purpose, has not yet been revealed.

Climate

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Cambodia - rain - t.n. photo

Nowadays

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Phnom Penh - seedy houses - d.t. photo

Attractions

Phnom Penh

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