Discovering Kampong Cham

  Sonia   |     30/04/2018

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After spending 3 days in Kampot (, I stop for a day with a lovely local family. Indeed, I met Mey, a Cambodian girl, during the New Year celebrations in Siem Reap. She invited me to her house to spend a day with her family living in the province of Takeo. After 1 hour and a half by bus, I finally reach Ang Ta Saom and here Mey with his father, older sister and little brother are waiting for me at the bus stop. After about forty minutes in the car, we arrive at their home and I meet her mother. We then start to cook all together: they prepare a typical soup of Cambodia and I cook some pasta with tomato and meat. In the afternoon we walk through the village and everyone is amazed to see a foreign face in the area. In the evening instead we do local dances, obviously, I spend a lot of time trying to learn how to move my feet and arms. At night, I sleep in the room with Mey and her mother. It has been such a pleasure and unforgettable experience to spend a day with them and be in close contact with local people!
The next morning I take a taxi-car (being a small village where there are no local buses) to head to Phnom Phen (100 km, 2 and a half hours of road, paid $ 4).
In the afternoon then I take the bus to go to Kampong Cham (bus paid 6 $ for 3 and a half hours of travel)
Kampong Cham is the third largest city in Cambodia. The centre is nothing special. There are various shops and has a long river where it is pleasant to walk. In the evening there is the market where you can eat for 1 $ rice with vegetables and eggs or noodle.
I choose to stay at the Moon River Guesthouse for $ 8 a double room with an en-suite bathroom. Clean structure with fan and hot water.
The next day, I rent a bike at the Guesthouse for $ 2 to explore this city. As a first destination I head towards the Wat Nokor temple complex about 6 km from the centre; here are the remains of the ancient temple and a new temple. While I visit the complex, a nun hands me a bracelet and gives me a blessing in exchange for an offer from me.
Then I head to the "OBT Chiro Village" accommodation of which I had read positive reviews on Trip Advisor. It is located 9 km from the centre and can be reached by crossing a bridge over the Mekong river. The heat is excessive but in less than 1 hour I arrive at my destination and I sip a cold beer. It is an accommodation located in a very quiet and relaxing area. I recommend it to those who want to enjoy nature. Many Muslims live in this village and in fact, there is also a mosque. Also, when you cross the bridge, you see a red French Tower: historical monument.
After this break, I head to the island Koh Pen which is 6 km from the centre   The road, once you arrive on the island, becomes unpaved and most of the land is covered by various crops. Here the people I meet smile at me; they are not used to seeing many tourists. I ride through the island and I'm the only foreigner around. I stop to get an ice cream at a banquet in the street and a lady invites me to eat it by sitting at her house. Here I sit next to some children who also eat an ice cream and start playing together. Finally, I get to learn the numbers in Khmer and after I repeat the numbers from 1 to 10 the children all start in chorus by saying the numbers in English. One of the things I love when I travel is to interact with local people. Sometimes there is the language barrier but somehow we can communicate.
I get out of the island this time by crossing the famous bamboo bridge. It costs 1 $ for the scooter otherwise 0,50 $.
Regarding the restaurants, I would recommend the "Mekong crossing" restaurant in the centre with fairly low prices and tasty food. Or a place where you can eat meat at the barbecue located at the end of the long river in the same direction of the evening market. Each portion of meat costs 10,000 Riel or $ 2.50 and with the meat is brought a plate of vegetables for free. The nice thing is that you can cook by yourself because the charcoal is put in the centre of the table.
So I've stayed 2 nights at Kampong Cham. Surely this is not a must destination of Cambodia but it is a place that definitely has its own reason. If you want to get away from tourist destinations and immerse yourself in the Cambodian culture is the perfect destination.

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