Back to the roots
Trip Start Sep 03, 2006
50Trip End Jul 21, 2007
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Visiting Cambodia has been different from all the countries we have been through so far.
Saoyuth can speak the language, her parents were our guides, and above all, we were staying and living "a la cambodgienne" with Saoyuth's relatives. We have been so thoroughfully taken in charge and cared for, that we don't know a thing about what it's like to travel in Cambodia as a tourist (is it difficult to find accommodation? How much is a meal in a restaurant? Where are the best places to go? Ask someone else!)...All in all it was a great experience for everyone involved: Saoyuth's parents who were meeting their cousins again, Patrick who was fed with the most authentically meals and sheltered from rip offs, Saoyuth who could practice her rusty Cambodian and discover her country, and the relatives themselves who are now proud to have a "barang" (foreigner) relative!
The Thai-Cambodian border: a place where Saoyuth's parents used to live
Our journey from Chiang Mai to Aranyapratet/Poipet - border towns between Thailand and Cambodia -, went rather well, with just a dispute with a taxi driver when connecting in Bangkok. The taxi driver was very aggressive, and Patrick was not in the mood to take it...
Saoyuth's parents made things go smoothly by doing all the talking and managed to find a taxi to take us from there to Battambang at half the "Barang" (foreigner) price. Even though Saoyuth's parents are Cambodian, it seems that ripping offs is de rigueur in Poipet which much disappointed them.
Half of the trip was on a decent road, built only a year ago or so: apparently things are getting better in Cambodia, one of the poorest country on earth. On the way Saoyuth's Mum pointed the place (somewhere in the middle of fields) where Saoyuth was born: what a deception to find out 27 years later that you were not born in the city of your ancestors (ie: Battambang) as mentioned in your ID papers but rather near Poipet, one of the places you'd rather avoid. We presume that it was more convenient to state "Battambang" to the refugee officer than "the nameless place in the fields near Poipet"...
Meeting up with relatives and pilgrimage to the grandparents house
A few days later, one of the relatives offers to drive us to Siem Reap, city of Angkor Wat. We accept the offer and set off for a bumpy ride in the Toyota Camry which seems to be the only car sold in Cambodia.