US Dollars in Cambodia

From Bangkok, we made our way to the Cambodian border.  Once across the border it is immediately evident that this is Cambodia.  The road from the border to Siem Reap is the worst I have ever traveled on.  Big holes, unpaved and loads of scooters, people and animals.  My butt took a beating.  It took as twice as long to go half the distance we traveled in Thailand (if that makes sense?).

One of the first things you notice is the use of the US Dollar as the preferred currency.  Everything is listed in US dollars and paid in US dollars- even the ATM’s dispense US dollars, but to confuse newly-arrived tourists- any change under a dollar is given in Cambodian Riel which is 4000 Riel to $1.  Also, by crossing into Cambodia I’ve become a millionaire in Riels.

Our first stop was the small town of Siem Reap which is next to one of the biggest tourist destinations in the region – Angkor Wat.  We spent a sweat-inducing day at the temples climbing steep, vertigo-inducing stairs, fending off children selling crap (laaaady, you buy!!), and generally going from one shaded area to another.  I have never sweat so much.  But, it’s interesting because the air didn’t feel particulary hot to me and the humidity didn’t feel thick, but something in the air causes sweat to literally pour out of me.

The next day we went to an orphanage to cook lunch and play with the kids.  It was a fun experience.  The children were all happy and helped each other out around the center.  Some of the older boys were quite impressed with my volleyball skills.  We then took the kids out to Tonle Sap lake to see the floating village and to get some fresh air.  It was their first time there and it’s heartbreaking because it’s only a 20 minute ride and they’ve never been.  We crammed about 50 people into a bus built for 35 and the kids sang songs to and from including one in Khmer (the language of Cambodia) about missing their parents.  One girl cried on a tour member’s shoulder.  It was a great day and the first day in a long time I only thought of that day and not the days ahead.

Last night, we had a homestay in a rural village.  I slept on a thin mattress on the floor under a mosquito net- not something I would like to do again.  It was a bit like camping and I don’t like camping.  We didn’t spend much time with the family because our meals were prepared and eaten at the community center.  We basically used the family home as a place to sleep because that’s all we did- we arrived back at the house right before we went to sleep and left right after we woke up.

Right now, we’re in the port town of Sihanoukville (Sin-nook-ville) for three nights.  It’s Cambodia’s premier beach town.  So, a little R&R for me.

Next, we go to the capital, Phnom Penh where we will learn about the evil Khmer Rouge which murdered millions of Cambodians in the late 70’s.  Stay tuned it’s absolutely heartbreaking…

Phnom Penh is our last stop in Cambodia before we head off to Vietnam!  The tour group is great because everyone of us (there’s 12) came on our own and most are either just starting or just finishing a round-the-world trip.  And nearly all of us are going all the way to Chiang Mai like me.  (Hmmm, I wonder if I’ll like each other after 40 days?!)  And, yes, once again I am the only American.

(Also, it looks like it’s going to be interesting come November for the American elections- either the first black president or the first female vice-president.  How exciting!!  It’s big news everywhere in the world, of course, some people are confused because they thought it was between Hillary and Barack and now all of the sudden McCain’s name pops up.)


6 Responses to “US Dollars in Cambodia”

  1. 1 DAD September 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    No snakes yet?? You seem to have experience everything else. Sounds like your kinda having a good time. Make sure you keep drinking those fluids. Keep having funnnnn!!!!


  2. 2 Amy September 1, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    After reading all of that, I think Egypt was a better choice for me. School starts tomorrow and I am excited because now I will have something to do and time will fly by and before I know it, Caydence Alexis will be here!!!! Good to hear from you as always and take care.
    Love Amy

  3. 3 Mom September 1, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Your Dad just laughed and laughed after reading this latest blog. He especially got a kick from the homestay. And you paid money for that? Nice tour, LOL. Anyway sounds like you are seeing things that you might never see again. Hope fun, take it all in. Take Care, Love ya, Mommy

  4. 4 megan September 2, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Sounds like you’re having some amazing experiences on the trip, despite some discomfort 🙂

    Was the visit to the orphanage something your group chose to do, or was it already organised by your guide?

    Looking forward to reading your next installment!

  5. 5 Angela F. September 3, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Do you recommend this tour company? I’m wanting to go to Asia myself, maybe next year.

  6. 6 Kathy September 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Stacy,

    I love the story about the orphange and cried the entire time I read and then I reread it again. You are an incredible young woman.

    I am with your Dad, you paid how much to sleep on a thin mattress, yucky. I hate camping as well! I spendt the Labor Day weekend in WA States rain forest I had a cabin in the woods I usally like a Marriott but I roughed it in my cabin with a fire place. The beaches are incredible on our coast so different from the east coast.

    Hey guess who flew Sarah Palin and family under cover to Ohio before the whole world knew, yes that is right your Aunt Kathy. Things were slow in Ohio so this is the article that they wrote about what they thought happen, as I knew what was going on but had to keep quiet until it was annoucned to the world.

    Hugs and kisses you are loved. Aunt Kathy

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Where’s Stacy?

Stacy is in West Virginia and totally amazed by the power of Math. (Nerd, I know!)


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