Cambodia is a poor country. It reminded me of India in many ways. Possibly the diversity in India is more, but in Cambodia also one sees lots of poverty. I was taken to the floating village â€“ a kind of slum that is formed in water. It was touching to see complete society becoming formed there and people living in boats in conditions very similar to what exists in slums in India and Brazil. It did appear, however, that the life here was more controlled by nature rather than by negative elements in society as one hears about other slums. Overall Cambodia is definitely one of the poorest countries I have visited. Their villages looked very similar to Indian village that I saw long time ago.
I found some very unique interesting things about Cambodia. It appears that the official currency of this country is more US$ than their own currency Cambodian Riel. All transactions â€“ including prices in the restaurants and at hawkers â€“ are in US$. The money that I converted at the airport, was more difficult to use here than US$. If you offered to pay in Riel, they had to take out their calculator. They have also adopted English as a second language and that is helping them.
Some other unique things in this country are: Motorama, their airport, and their travel guide. They use a contraption to attach motorcycles to different carts and pull these carts for human as well as other material transportation. Unique and effective way. I liked this innovative approach. The Siam Reap airport is a small airport but is very clean and neat and has all facilities one may want including computers with internet. Finally a very interesting experience was to work with a torist guide who became my friend on FaceBook even before our engagement ended. Mr. Yep Kosal is a person who came from extremely poor background and now is a computer instructor and English tourist guide. Very articulate, friendly, and knowledgeable person. It was fun to work with him. More interestingly it is impressive that he is running a foundation to help children from the earnings he makes as well as from the web site that he runs.
Overall, this was a very interesting trip. The only thing that we did not experience much was the local cuisine. We mostly ate at our hotel â€“ Raffles Grand Hotel Dâ€™Ankor â€“ and the food was mor international than Cambodian or what they call Khmer.