While I consider myself to be a serious city-slicker, I can’t ignore the call of the wild. Adventurer by profession, I am constantly looking for new ways to experience my surroundings in a more authentic way; which I was I opted in for a homestay while I was in Cambodia.
A homestay is normally when you live with a local family, with few luxuries, and gather a taste of what life is like outside your comfort zone. While a temporary homestay can never replace the actual trials and tribulations that people experience when living in rural and underdeveloped environments, it’s a step in the right direction if your heart is authentic about understanding your fellow-man.
Our group was separated between two cottages and I was paired with the older travelers in the group with the elevated beds. After camping in Morocco, I quickly learned the importance of higher ground and it was a no-brainer for me. The people in the other house were given floor mats instead and raged an epic war with a spider the size of my palm after dinner. How lucky were they?
When we broke bread with our host family, we were given the best rice and curry available with white bread as a side dish. Now that I’ve been Paleo for nearly three years, I have developed a gluten intolerance and often breakout into rashes when I consume bread or noodles, but this local bread had little to no effect on me. I think it was the rawness of the ingredients that made the difference versus the over-processed ingredients that we’re left with in today’s modern society that made all the difference.
After dinner, we were able to enjoy a performance by the local children with authentic cultural dancing and folk tales. All of them were dolled up head-to-toe in fancy makeup and jewelry that would have cost their families a fortune, but for them, the experience was worth it. I was particularly curious about their foundation because the girls had pressed on pasty white makeup onto their face, which looked much like chalk after it dried. I’m always curious about international standards of beauty and to this community, this was the ideal.
I was later guided to the outdoor toilet by my iPhone secured tightly in my bra and I immediately regretted not bringing a headlamp of some sort for the dangerous journey. As I surveyed the situation, I was torn between exposing myself in a nearby bush versus staying in the indoor toilet as the confined space seemed more dangerous. I eventually decided that I didn’t want my butt to get bit in the dark of the night so I did my damn thing and bolted. It’s interesting that these toilets were specifically built for our comfort.
I woke up early to get a jump on taking pictures before anyone else was awake and could call me vain. I took the liberty of wandering around and making friends with all of the animals at 5am and it was truly a sight. To think that an entire community could live off of simply their own land and resources without the impulse to connect to WIFI or to reach for an iPhone every morning is beyond me. Good for you Glen Coco. You go Glen Coco.
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About Vanessa Elizabeth
Vanessa Elizabeth is a cultural chameleon currently based in London. She enjoys sports (such as CrossFit and dating), cooking, and demolishing her savings account. When she's not busy blogging about her feelings, she works full-time and practices Chinese with her English/German friends.
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