March 13 – 14th ~ Sambor Prei Kuk Home Stay
Staying in someone else’s home can be challenging, even under the best conditions. You are invading their sanctuary and changing the flow of their normal routine. Difficult enough when you are the guest of a good friend or family member.
But what about when the home you are overnighting at is in a foreign land, with different customs, the host and hostess do not speak English, and the accommodations are far from Western standards.
I will attempt to give a peek into our home stay in Cambodia.
Arriving in the evening after sunset, and a long day stuffed with a boat ride, hiking through ancient temple grounds, a school visit, and a very dusty ox cart ride, we were in need of a hot shower and a cold beverage. (In case you did not already read about the days activities, you can check it out by clicking here.)
Divided into two groups, the eight single people stayed in one home, and the three couples walked across the street for our “home”.
All of the homes in this area are built on stilts with the open air lower portion of the home used for mealtime or family gathering. The upstairs area is the sleeping quarters.
As is customary, shoes are removed before walking up stairs. We were warned to carry our shoes up with us and not leave them out where the families puppies might be tempted to chew on them or carry one off.
The sleeping floor was divided into sleeping “rooms” with curtains. In each section, one found either a mat or mattress on the floor, or a wooden bed. One sheet was placed onto the mattress, with a pillow and an additional sheet as well as a mosquito net provided.
There was no air conditioning of course, but we did have a fan over the bed which was left on until the electricity was turned off after midnight.
The “bathroom” was a small concrete building with two toilets. One was the western style we are familiar with, and the other the asian squat toilet.
In many toilets in developing countries, you do not put toilet paper into the toilet, but into the trash basket next to the toilet. Water is then scooped (see pink plastic scoop) and poured into the toilet to flush it. Sometimes several scoops of water are needed.
Also inside each of these small rooms was a water cistern that held room temperature water and a plastic scoop to be used for bathing purposes.
To take a “bath” or wash up, you get a scoop of water out of the cistern and you can simply pour it over yourself (and all over the floor), or otherwise use it to wet yourself down. A plastic pump container of soap was in the bathroom. I picked it up to move it closer to the water.
I thought the dark blob on it was a flower decoration and was quite startled when it turned out to be a tree frog which proceeded to jump into the water tank, then climb up the back wall!
After getting wet, soap up, get another scoop full of water and rinse off. The water was room temperature which in the jungle heat felt nice. There was a cut in the floor in the corner for water to drain out of the room.
The families also grow some of their own food and raise animals.
Laundry is done in a large heated bucket behind the house and hung on a rope or wire to dry.
The kitchen/cooking area and eating area are both under the stilted house.
Overall, this was a good experience. It certainly made me more appreciative of my life. We gained some understanding of what life is like for a typical Cambodian family. And except for the rooster that decided to crow at odd times throughout the night, I got a pretty good nights sleep.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the chance to stay in a Cambodian home and learn a bit more about local life. This was not a “poor” family compared to many living here. The quality of our accommodations was comfortable, even if very basic. The family was warm. We realized that our visit was an integral and important means of income for this farming village. It also made me appreciate even more the comforts of home we take so for granted, such as our modern plumbing, running water, air conditioning and a lovely hot shower.
Have you ever done a home stay in another country? I would love to know about your experience.