If you’ve ever ventured out to the rural areas of Cambodia, or to the rural parts of Asia in general, you’re really taking a big step away from city life. You’ll find yourself in a place where human meets nature, a place where you can’t often hide behind man’s infrastructural creations or society’s ability to simplify and streamline everything and anything. It’s a unique experience, and one that’s well worth trying if you have an adventurous spirit and a love for culture. Here are 5 things that will happen if you do decide to take off your comfort shackles and step into Cambodia’s rural way of life.
Your fear of insects will go away
Once upon a time I used to be afraid of spiders. When I began travelling through rural Cambodia I realised that fear wasn’t going to get me anywhere anytime soon. You find yourself sharing most of your accommodation with some kind of 8-legged guest and it’s just something you have to get used to. The good news is that, unlike Australia, most of these critters can’t kill you, and along with your other roommates, the Geckos, these pair of little creatures are the ones that will be eating the blood sucking mosquitos that will buzz around your mosquito net all night. So be grateful for the food chain and instead of jumping to the ceiling just leave them be and get used to your knew found fearlessness.
You get used to being dirty
When in rural Cambodia the rule of showering twice a day is non-existent. For one, you can kiss hot showers goodbye (although it’s generally too hot for one anyway), and second you might not even have access to a shower at all. In rural Cambodia baby wipes are your friends and, in fact, you can feel quite refreshed after using them. Not showering daily isn’t such a bad thing, just maybe refrain from telling all your friends that you haven’t showered for over 48 hours and you’ll get along just fine. (Note: Deodorant also works here).
You wonder how we ever lived without electricity
Once the sun goes down in rural Cambodia you’re limited to what you can do. Unless you’re staying somewhere solar powered or with a bright burning candle it can get very dark very fast. This just means that your sleeping patterns revert back to when you were 8 years old, in bed by 8pm and awake at dawn. Unless you don’t mind staying up, playing cards and drinking rice wine with the locals. In terms of environmental sustainability it really is quite the scenario, however it does make you thankful for the extra time that the light bulb provides us each day when the sun goes down.
You have a new appreciation for the small things
When you travel to the rural areas of Cambodia you get a real taste of a minimalist lifestyle. Many people in rural Cambodia live with the bare essentials, basic toilet facilities, meaning no western toilets or toilet paper, just a hose and perhaps a hole in the ground. They use buckets for showers and often one bedroom is shared by a whole family. The reality is that this is normal life for them, and they are not bothered by it. It really makes you appreciate how much you have, and how much you have that you don’t need. To see people so content with the little they have makes it hard for you to want any more. It makes it hard not to appreciate the life you have been blessed with.
You fall in love with the people and with the country
It’s hard not to fall in love with the local people in the rural villages of Cambodia. Although there is almost always a language barrier you can feel the warmth of the people who will welcome you into their restaurants or homes with smiles and without hesitations. Children play in the street with basic toys and wave at you as you walk past, often yelling “Hello” which might be the only word they know. The fact that you are so far from the chaos of the city and often have endless views of rice fields and plantations makes you want to extend your stay just that little bit longer.
Seeing rural Cambodia is an important part of visiting the country. I don’t believe you can say that you’ve seen Cambodia by only visiting Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Although those places do have a lot to offer, I would encourage spending a little bit of time in a rural village and let yourself be drawn into the real culture of the country. You may find yourself enjoying it much more than you would think.