Bright green fields stretched to my right and left, scattered with small wooden shacks with resting farm animals, drying clotheslines and barbed wire fences. A bright red dirt path stretched in front of me. The air was hot and extremely humid, a combined feeling of refreshing and stifling. There were no cars and no mopeds, only bikes running over the million little rocks stuck within the country road.
Thevivid colors, open air and bicycles were all in the Cambodian countryside I had the privilege to travel through in October. The experience taught me an important and unforgettable lesson: One of the best ways to spend time exploring a new country or city is to do so through bike riding.
Having left England on a cold December day, I arrived at Siem Reap in Cambodia on Christmas day late in the evening. The heat hit me immediately. As I was still wearing my warm clothes I was quite relieved to feel the cool breeze on my face as I took my first Tuk Tuk ride to my accommodation. I had never been to Cambodia before and I was struck by the poverty of the country almost straight away. My stepson greeted us and took us back to his apartment where we were shown to our very comfortable bedroom. I decided over the next few days I would see the poverty for myself. I had not imagined, however, the extent of it and was very surprised. What affected me most was seeing the children living in such squalid conditions. I found it difficult to visit the markets where children would beg me to buy their goods. On my third day I walked into the local village to visit the people there and to take photographs. Here the poverty of the people was very apparent. Children were running around barefoot avoiding skinny cockerels that hustled for food and shouting hello to us in loud voices. Everyone we passed smiled at us and asked how we were and some even offered us food despite their poverty. Both my husband I were very touched by this. We passed small huts that looked like they would crumble to the ground should there be one large gust of wind. I saw children being washed under taps while they fought to escape the parent attempting to clean them. How do these children stay well, I wondered and what do they eat? Cambodia is a poverty stricken country, where the average wage is seven dollars a week. Everywhere you look there is poverty and malnutrition. There are also many children. Where there is poverty, there are health problems. I glanced at the small stalls selling food and tried not to grimace at the flies that hovered there. Continue reading →