Cambodia: If Skeletons Could Talk
Skeletons…I know… creepy way to start out a story for family travel, but it seems appropriate after our family trip to Cambodia where we visited the famous Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. It was quite poignant seeing the fields, which are still active – by which I mean bones actually get pushed around and rise to the surface during heavy rains. Raised pathways keep you from potentially walking on these mass graves.
The museum does an excellent job in telling the stories of both the victims and the soldiers – many of whom were teenagers forced to kill or be killed…a sobering story for the kids to fathom. And the kids learn more about the Khmer Rouge on a visit to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, where press who were reporting on action in the 1960s (and since then) hung out.
We followed our visit to the FCC with a sunset cruise on the Mekong Delta…breathtaking!
After Phnom Penh, we headed south to Koh Rong, the island where many seasons of Survivor were filmed.
We stayed in huts along the beach for about $30/night and met so many friendly people including Adventure Adam who was happy to share his version of Cambodia’s story..about the wonderful people who seem to welcome with open arms and appreciate each moment. Adam took us snorkeling, fishing…
and to a small island nearby to deliver shoes the boys had collected as part of their Re-Tie project, taking gently used to shoes to kids in need around the world.
After some R&R on the island…rest and ropes courses…
we headed north to meet up with Jeremy’s old school teacher in a rural town…on the way I tried BBQ tarantula, to the delight of many of the locals! That will be a Cambodia story to tell again and again!
And we ended our family vacation in Cambodia in Siem Reap visiting the incredible pyramid complex of Angkor Wat, which tells stories galore…
The kids loved exploring the temples here…very Indian Jones like with monkeys lurking in the rafters…
and tree roots overgrowing some temples telling their own story about a once great kingdom and the power of the jungle to take back.
Angkor Wat was not only well visited by tourists, but monks as well…
Nathan and Seamus were thrilled to meet this young monk who blessed them with holy threads inside the temple. Each monk told their own story of devotion and peace.
In Siem Reap, we met two very smiley women named Arrot and Arron, who shared their lives with us. It rained torrentially while we were in Siem Reap…making a visit to Angkor Wat…well, wet. Arron laughingly complained of the rain with us saying she had to run her moto through thigh high water to get to the hotel and was worried about driving back to her house at night. Wow, she got us beat there. But she didn’t seem to mind…in fact no one seemed to mind about the things that can get you down in life.
That’s why I called this Cambodia: If Skeletons Could Talk. Ask people in Cambodia about their history, the shrinking of their kingdom, which once covered parts of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, the torturous reign of the Khmer Rouge and their gruesome killing fields, the control impressed upon them by various other countries since then, and they all just kind of shrug and smile, and talk about the wonders around them hear and now. They exude gratitude…living in the moment, gracious and kind. It’s difficult to live gratitude in first world countries sitting in air conditioned homes and driving the car to a fully stocked supermarket, for these people…who are often living on next to nothing…to show such ample amounts of it was inspirational. And the story is told again and again through their monuments and their people. So, If skeletons could talk, I think they would probably thank you for coming and grin at the glorious day!
We took an Asiana Airlines flight from LAX to Phnom Penh with a stop in Seoul, South Korea. If you are traveling to more than one place in Asia or the world, a consolidator can often get cheaper tickets and alert you to free stopovers to get more out of your trip. We used AirTreks and got a great deal on our around the world airfare for this trip. Plus, the service was great – they reserved perfect seats for us, alerted us to changes and insurance was included in the airfare!
If you are already in Asia, you can transfer overland from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In Vietnam, the Mekong River journey from the Mekong Delta just south of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Phnom Penh is supposed to be amazing. We continued to Thailand from Siem Reap by bus to the border and then from the border to Thailand by train…a great journey where we met lots of amazing locals!
Where to Stay:
Phnom Penh: We stayed at The Kabiki Hotel. Located in a heart of Phnom Penh near the Royal Palace and markets, The Kabiki Hotel is a paradise in the hectic urban atmosphere of the city. It’s beautiful gardens, which are dotted with unique artwork, host lots of cats, which the kids loved! The spacious family suite had a small alcove with bunk beds and a curtain divider giving parents and kids some privacy. The vast pool provided some respite from the heat of the day and the poolside service – with excellent food served to us in traditional beds – was wonderful!
Siem Reap: We stayed at Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat. The spacious villas here offered two-rooms, plenty of the space for the whole family to spread out and relax. The vast pools was the perfect place to cool down in the afternoon. And, the open air restaurant served some scrumptious, and healthy, food choices with Asian fusion gourmet choices as well as kid-friendly Western food. The staff at Navutu Dreams makes the stay even more special with their friendly smiles and attention to every detail. Plus, Siem Reap’s markets and cafes, and of course the temples at Angkor Wat are just a short tuk-tuk ride away!
Koh Rong: We stayed at Monkey Island. It’s beachfront cottages are rustic for sure, but there’s a charming rusticness to it. The balcony of our bamboo sided, thatch-roofed hut literally hung over the beach, and it was just a few minutes walk into the small town. There is no electricity at night, but the bungalows only cost about $30/night. The restaurant bar area was a favorite hang-out and there were kayaks for rent right next door. And the views…out of this world!
Want to go on a real family adventure of you own? Join us on a TRAVEL WITH KIDS FAMILY ADVENTURE TOUR NEXT SUMMER…(we have trips planned to SOuth Africa, Fiji , and more! or, let us help you plan a family adventure for just your family!