Yes, oddities! Don’t get freaked out of the word, every place you tour or visit will surprise you, in some way or the other. Cambodia has intrigued me more than once which is why I call them oddities. I have heard myself saying, “What! I didn’t expect this” over and over as I travelled across the Cambodian land. Let me share my experiences with you so that you don’t miss out on them.
Adorable Critters on Board
If you think of Cambodia a place where you go to experience the culture and go to see temples and ruins think again. The place is also blessed with nature’s bounty and you’re sure to find a lot more than you had expected. Boeng Yeak Lom is a tranquil crater lake ideal for swimming, its crystal blue waters will call out to you as soon as you spot your eyes on it.
Nature has not only blessed Cambodia with lakes and greenery but also mesmerising creatures and they possess the ability to take you under their spell and melt your hearts. You’ll find hornbills, giant ibises, peacock-pheasants and rare birds along with elephants, clouded leopards, tigers and sun bear in the Virachey National Park in Cambodia. It doesn’t just stop there. Have you heard of the adorable Irrawaddy Dolphins? They play and grow friendly to you if you take a boat out to the Mekong River.
Speaking of cuteness, Cantor’s giant soft-shell turtles are no less and the Cambodians in Kratie are hell bound to protect them. And why shouldn’t they? This is one of the rare creatures that you find and to lose them so easily is not really an option.
The Oddities in Food
Khmer cuisine is splendid and in fact, I grew pretty used to the sticky texture of the Jasmine Rice that after coming home the normal seemed odd. You’ll find fish amok, spring rolls, beef Lok Lak, curries and a green mango salad amongst the popular dishes. I reckon you take a cooking class despite whichever Cambodian city you are in. I took quite a few of them and learnt a lot.
But that wasn’t really what I wanted to fixate on when I said there are oddities in food in Cambodia. Head to a market in Siem Reap and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Such mind- blowing varieties of amazingly eek-y food is sprawling all around you. Siem Reap has weird foods like barbequed frogs, fried insects and more. I was disgusted then and now but I don’t mean to disrespect the food but insects? Can’t do!
But, that’s not all. Wine-lovers or oenophiles will surely search for wine everywhere even though it’s not native to the country. I am one of them and guess what I found? A winery. Cambodian land does not have the kind of climate that would suit the growth of grapes, let alone be making wine. But Chan Thai Chhoeung relentless efforts led to the Phnom Banan Winery that makes red and rose wines and give the white hues a skip. Incredible, isn’t it?
Weird Sources of Entertainment
The fun part of my trip in Cambodia is when I set out to discover the various places the temples, the ruins, the villages and more. Which is why I also cycled across Siem Reap as it was the best way to discover a place, make necessary stops and exercise while on vacation. Just kidding. While in Battambang I also went kayaking on the Sangker River and trust me, it is one of the best ways to experience the beautiful fishing villages and the true Cambodian life.
Now while all these experiences were pretty normal, some were not. Nonetheless, they were enjoyable too but if you hear of them they might not sound appealing to all. But you must try them. One of them is rattling roller coaster called the Bamboo Train in Battambang and is one of the popular activities in the city. But don’t take it for a conventional theme-park ride as it comes on railway tracks and all you have is a plank on wheels.
One of the creepiest experiences that I had in Cambodia was Bat Caves. You should see the critters come out in hundreds and thousands at once as they leave their home (the cave) to find food as the sun sets. This I experienced while I was visiting the Killing Caves at Battambang which was a day full of learning about massacres, killings and eerie caves. Come to think of it Bat Caves at the end of the day was enough to complete the experience, wasn’t it?
Wow, Cambodia does have some weird things going on. But then again, which place doesn’t? And it is such experiences that we remember all through our lives because the usual is easily forgotten, oddities are not.
Written by Team Guiddoo
Guiddoo builds in-destination experiences through Smartphone Apps for travellers and hence provides a one-stop shop for a traveller during his “Experience” phase of travel and includes features like Tour and Activity Marketplace, Audio Visual Travel Content and Restaurant-Spa-Nightclub-Shopping Information and Booking Tools on the Customers Smartphone.