buoyed spirits in cambodia

cambodia familyThe closest Khmer word for ‘strength’ is clang and according to Intrepid’s Jo Crisp, this is certainly something that is not weakened by wild weather in Cambodia

“Siem Reap, home of World Heritage Angkor Wat, was the Venice of Asia in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana that rocked the Philippines and Vietnam. Storms hit Cambodia causing torrential downpours and flooding in many parts of the country.

On Tuesday night, 29 September, water was about a metre from my front door when I went to bed. By 4am the water started lapping at my fingers as I slept. I awoke to find water was over a metre deep throughout my house and small fish were calling my bedroom home! So after grabbing essential items and raising everything up on shelves and cupboards I waded out to the street to join the hordes of people who were also flooded out of their houses.

The first thing that struck me was how industrious Cambodians are. Women were floating their babies and household items in plastic washing baskets down the street. People had nets and fishing rods out catching their breakfast. Children were splashing around in the lake that used to be their street. And everyone had smiles on their faces despite the fact that all their worldly possessions were wet, damaged or destroyed.

Everywhere I looked people were pulling together to support each other. Later that day I witnessed families helping each other bag sand to protect the businesses and houses that had not as yet flooded.

Jokes, humour and playing are the way people are coping with the destruction of the floods. Yesterday I saw a Dad who had hooked up a large plastic lid behind his motorbike like a body board. He was driving it up and down the street towing his son along on the water. Not likely to become the next Olympic sport, but his way of relieving the tension.

The crocodile farm which is about 5 minutes from the centre of town was under water and the ongoing joke was that the crocodiles had escaped! “What’s that behind you?”

Today, the sun is shining, the water has subsided and people are starting to rebuild their lives. All services are back on schedule. Now is the perfect time to visit Cambodia and help to keep money coming in to support local families, and the economy of this beautiful country.”

Tour Cambodia with Intrepid on great trips like these:
Cambodia Basix – 15 days
Tonle Sap Secrets – 4-5 hours Urban Adventure

* photo by James Cooper – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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3 comments

This is amazing – you can drown their homes, but not their spirits. What beautiful people, truly living in harmony with nature… bearing its fury as just another ‘mood’ of the weather gods, just another aspect of life. We in the cities find so much to complain about! Not any more… not after reading this. Thank you for writing it in.

What a great story…Cambodia is just magic,I cant wait to return.

Loved this slice of life piece. Reminded me of my days in wonderful Cambodia and the floods in Phnom Penh. Waiting under the roof of a garage with other motos who would just pull in and wait out the torrential rain. No one minded if you took refuge at their place. Often a chair appeared for you to sit on. The moment I remember was watching the kids coming back from school. One young lady had a great umbrella. She had found a banana palm leaf and was holding that. It was doing a marvellous job. Yes, very enterprising people. I love them so much.

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