During our Cambodia adventure we had a Homestay scheduled to help us really get to know the Cambodian culture. After spending so much time in Honduras I knew what we were getting into, Josh on the other hand had no clue what we had signed up for. Arriving at the Homestay was not what we expected, but as always we made the most of it for the memories we would take away. We really did not get time to spend with the family as much as we wanted.
Throughout this trip we saw that the Cambodian people do not live the same first world way we all do, even though they have a few of the same amenities such as smart phones, they still do not have electricity or running water. We had packed our night packs the night before not totally knowing what we were getting into.
We ware taken around to three houses and told these would be home for the night. We then loaded up to head toward their association ( kind of like a home owners association but more truly for the folks in the village to all share the revenue). The association takes turns as to which house gets picks to stay in. They have around 40 homes in the village that people stay in. They all take turns so each house has the same opportunity for guests and their "rent."
With 40 houses to pick from they have a wide range of houses, from house on stilts, wooden houses, and very sad shacks. As we arrived at the association headquarters we were introduced to the main manager whom told us more of the villagers situation they had faced and how their village was only 10 years old. Their families were driven out in the late 70's and not allowed to return till 1998, and even then they had to work with the UN to clear the land mines set out. There were other horrible stories that as Americans we had never been told. Their version of the Nazis was more recent and hidden from the world. Please research it if you would like, but be prepared for a huge shock.
The night wore on as we finished our traditional Cambodian food and we were treated to a show from the local village children. The show ended and we were so honored to have a peek into their culture of singing and dance. We headed back to the house and started to unpack the bags for the night, you could tell the family that had very little, put so much into making sure it was all organized to their best.
As the clamp was removed from the 12 volt battery to turn off the light, we wonder about our own busy life and how we are blessed in so many ways to only be as humble as these folks. I felt really guilty staying in their home. They had a two room house, one room with five beds, and one room the family all scrunched in together the small room. As morning came and the welcoming sounds of the jungle creatures mixed with the rooster crowing, we took a stroll down the dusty road and greeted the families. It was like any other family in the morning with the kids getting ready for school and the parents doing the morning chores. We were greeted by children whom were dressed in their Sunday best and others that well had not covered up their birthday suit.
We soon headed off to breakfast as the women of the village had been preparing with love and care as they served it with a smile and joy in their eyes. Bellies full we decided to take off on a trek to see the local water fall that was described as a trickle during the dry season, but a raging Niagara in monsoon season. The dusty and rocky trail turned and winded us to the fall, and after crossing the rickety ole bridge we arrived. It was a Kodak moment as we turned the corner and gaze upon the falls. Our guide said that we could take a shower under them if we liked, so, why not after the hot and muggy track up. After playing around a bit and climbing around the rocks like kids at recess, we headed back down the trail to catch the bus to the next adventure.
Leaving the village we said our goodbyes to them and the families that rented out the front of their two room house for an experience that can only be described as the Cambodian way.
Here is the group we did our homestay with, if you are interested. http://chambok.org/
Here is a link to learn more about the Cambodian War.