Cambodia is predominantly an agrarian society with only a few large cities. Every time we take a long bus ride to get to a new tourist destination we look longingly out our tinted window as we speed past small villages and Cambodians working in rice fields. The places we have visited so far have been awesome, but they are very touristy with almost more westerners then Cambodians. We had started to envy Tara and Tyler's mode of transportation, so we decided to take a 25km bike ride with them from Kampot to the fishing village of Kep. We rented bikes from our hotel, attached our backpacks to the back with borrowed bungee cords and started our ride at 7 am.
For anyone who enjoys photography, Cambodia is a dream come true. After taking daily photos of their travel experiences for the last year and half both Tara and Tyler had become pretty darn good at it. We are both fairly new to the process so we extracted as many photo tips from them as we could get. Having them with us gave us more courage to walk up to people and ask them if we could take their photo, which was usually met with a huge smile and a shy pose.
We stopped every five minutes to take photos, Tara and Tyler where very patient and took plenty of their own.
A group of people asked us to come sit with them and have coffee, which has happened to Tara and Tyler on several occasions, but never to us. Once again, probably not going to happen if you are on a bus. Unlike the tourist areas where everyone speaks English, communicating was a welcome challenge. We learned some new Khmer words and practiced counting. It's surprising how far hand gestures and a smile will get you.
We tried out their tour bikes. Riding on a flat surface wasn't too bad, but there is no way I would want to take these bad boys and thier extra weight up any kind of hill.
The landscape, the food and the monstrous temples are all incredible, but its the people that have made us fall in love with Cambodia.
From almost every kid we passed we heard an emphatic "Hello, Hello." Some where a bit shy when we broke out the camera.
Once again Cambodia has amazed us, never have we experienced a more friendly, welcoming culture. The day turned into our most memorable SE Asia experience so far and we hope to incorporate more bike trips into our travels. The ride back to Kampot a few days later was not as pleasant. We left later in the day so it was unbearably hot and we had to ride against a head wind. I think our envy has now turned into awe of Tara and Tyler and all that they have accomplished.