After the departure of friends that I caught up with in Thailand and in Laos, I found myself alone again. It's been a while since I approached other travelers along the way. It was always the same questions and the same topics of conversation. My headphones became my best friend, even when not listening to anything in particular. I know, it seems selfish but this allowed me to concentrate on my thoughts about the journey, to focus, to dream, and to make plans... Or not at all. In short, it allowed me to find myself. My father often said he had to take the time to listen to his body in a quiet space...
Meeting travelers, especially in Southeast Asia, did not provide the most rewarding of experiences. Often enough, to most of them it was simply stories about parties or adding stamps in their passports.
Jacques alternates between hitchhiking and traveling by foot, starting from China, heading to Indonesia. Sitting at the same table in a ‘bouiboui’, he exclaimed “shit!” (merde in French) – he'd burnt his lips on his soup. Then a good discussion followed. With Jacques, I found myself feeling like a beginner traveler, despite many years visiting numerous countries around the world. I asked if I could join him on a part of his trip, and he accepted. It then led to some unforgettable encounters – a happy detour.
Warm and wonderful people in Cambodia had changed the energy around me, after what I had experienced with the Laotians.
Did you know...
- Cambodia’s flag is the only one in the world to feature a building, Angkor Wat.
- During the four years of the Khmer Rouge’s rule around 2 million people were killed. That’s one-fifth of the population.
- Khmer Rouge were supported first by China, then by the UK, USA and Thailand to stop the Vietnamese communist movement.
- Angkor Wat was constructed about 800 years before Tomb Raider was filmed there. It’s like they knew she was coming.
- Because of the genocide of the ‘70s up to 63% of Cambodia’s population is under thirty.
- The average age of marriage is 22 for women and 25 for men.
- It’s estimated there are still 4 million landmines still to be cleared in Cambodia.
- Traditional Cambodian weddings are quite involved and can go for up to three days and three nights - I experienced a super noisy night, the music is so loud to oust the bad spirits.
- Most Cambodians don’t celebrate their birthdays and many of the older ones don’t even know how old they are.
- Cambodians believe that counting a gecko’s chirp will tell you whom you will marry. The first chirp means you’ll marry a bachelor, second chirp means a widower, third chirp is a bachelor again and so on. Keep counting until the gecko stops.
- While Cambodia is renowned for cooking up creepy crawlies, most people eat fish and rice.