Battambang, Sihanoukville, and Kep, Cambodia: Powder me pretty

If I left my heart somewhere in Cambodia, it’s probably in Battambang. It was here that I developed a close-knit relationship with my Battambang host family. They were hospitable and kind-hearted, and I felt the love and depth of care emanating from their hearts. Together, we celebrated Cambodian New Year with young locals.

Celebrating this festive event in Cambodia was a first for me, and I was impressed by the spirit of the community; everyone participated, laughed, and had fun. It’s tradition for locals to line the streets holding water guns, buckets of water, and bottles of baby powder, and to shoot them at passersby. I myself joined in and got completely soaked, and by the end of it looked like a geisha gone wrong! In essence, I had a wonderful time filled with laughter. We also attended live performances and floated lanterns into the night sky.

As for the eats? Well, being the adventurers that we are, before coming on our trip we made a pact that we’d try bizarre foods in Battambang. It was unfortunate, however, that we were only able to find fried insects and fertilized duck eggs. (I’ve eaten the latter before — pretty good, I dare say.) A sure food highlight for me, though, was eating Khmer desserts, my favourite being sticky rice in a bamboo tube, also known as “num krolan.”


Decades of making “num krolan” and a star at what she does

Another highlight of Battambang was having a traditional Khmer picnic in a bamboo hut which sat above the water. A usual Khmer picnic often involves ordering and sharing an array of dishes, and at the end of the meal, retiring to a nearby hammock for a relaxing afternoon nap. But, fret not. Besides stuffing ourselves, we also exercised by visiting Wat Banan, which involved a hyperventilating climb of over 300 steps!

Phnom Sampeau, where the killing caves are located, was another mountainous site that involved a steep climb. Here we saw the skeletons and skulls of those who’d been bludgeoned to death and then tossed down this cave during the Khmer Rouge Regime. Every evening at dusk, millions of bats pour out of this cave. This astonishing sight lasts for about a good half hour.

Occheuteal beach in Sihanoukville

Occheuteal beach in Sihanoukville

Sunset on Occheuteal beach

Sunset on Occheuteal beach



Selling waffles in a mini food market in Kep

Selling waffles in a mini food market in Kep

The last places we visited in Cambodia were Sihanoukville and Kep. The beaches in Sihanoukville were lovely, and it was common to see people walking around selling food on the spot and offering massages. I enjoyed spending time with our Battambang host family and eating seafood by the beach every day. (Except that I got eaten alive by sand fleas.)

Kep was just as stunning — if not more so. The drive along the stretch of the water was very scenic. I was lucky to stumble upon a lovely lady at the market who made some fine waffles, some of which were plain and some of which were filled with sweet beans and coconut. Just what I was craving. I think I stuffed myself unconscious that day!

Something to note is that Cambodia is home to some exquisite islands, such as Koh Kong, Koh Rong, Koh Tonsay, Song Saa Private Island, and Koh Ta Kiev, most of which aren’t so well known and visited (which is why they’re gems). It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to visit them this time around. Alas, next time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s