On our flight on Silk Air from Singapore to Siem Reap there was a group of young Cambodians that were just returning from the OzAsia Festival in Adelaide, Australia. They were members of a group called Phare, The Cambodian Circus. We only chatted briefly with a couple of them but they came across as very sincere and a fun loving group. When we arrived in Siem Reap it did not take us long to realize this group was part of a larger organization that does some amazing work in Cambodia. We got tickets to their performance of “Influence“.
The other new experience that came along with the Circus was the tuk tuk trip to the circus. Shortly before we were set to be picked up the rain started. And I mean pouring sheets of water. Our driver Ms. Kim showed up exactly on time with a big smile and an amazingly well sheltered tuk tuk. Despite the torrential rain, ankle deep water everywhere being splashed about, we remained dry for the entire journey to the “big top”. When the show was over Ms. Kim was waiting right where she said she would be. Customer service of the highest level.
Another tour we took the time to enjoy was some local cooking lessons. Through the magic of Google and Trip Advisor we discovered Countryside Cooking Class. For $20US per person we were picked up where we were staying in a very clean, air conditioned van and driven out of Siem Reap to a town called Phumi Puok Chas, about 16km NW of Siem Reap. It was nice to support a company that appears to be giving back to their community. A portion of the proceeds are funnelled toward schooling and health care for the children of the village.
In the town, our guide, Ben, took us for a tour of the market. A bit of an introduction to what is available and what different items could be used for. It was nice getting a distance out of town. The market definitely has more of a local feel. And judging by the way the children looked at us, they did not see a lot of white people there.
The ladies who ran these stalls were amazing. They were always doing something. Whether selling, preparing, or cleaning, there was not a lot of down time.
After our tour of the market we headed back a couple kilometres to Ben’s village. It truly is a small Cambodian village. The track into it is small and rough but once you arrive they have everything you need.
We were guided through the preparation of Banana Blossom Salad, Beef Lok Lak, and Banana Rice Cakes. Ben kept things going and Mrs. Phat La, the village chef corrected any poor techniques she observed.
Obviously when you come to Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is the primary destination for most. However there are many activities, museums, and tours available to you. Enjoy as many as time allows. Speaking of Angkor Wat, stay tuned. It is next.