Home Stay in Cambodia

March 13 – 14th ~ Sambor Prei Kuk Home Stay

Our home stay family

Our home stay host family

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.

Leaving shoes on the stairs

Leaving shoes on the stairs

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.

Mat on the floor, with pillow, extra sheet and mosquito netting

Mat on the floor, with pillow, extra sheet and mosquito netting

Our room. We got an actual BED!

Our room. We got an actual BED!

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.

Bathroom/bath house

Bathroom/bath house

One western style toilet

One western style 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.

Green scoop used for bathing

Green scoop used for bathing

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.

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Laundry is done in a large heated bucket behind the house and hung on a rope or wire to dry.

Laundry room

Laundry room

The kitchen/cooking area and eating area are both under the stilted house.

Eating area

Eating area

Cooking area

Cooking area

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.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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23 Responses to Home Stay in Cambodia

  1. Jeff Bell says:

    There is no better way to learn about a country than to stay with the people. You did a great job of showing and explaining your experience. I’ll have to check out doing this next time I’m in Cambodia.

    I stayed with several families in Guatemala when I studied Spanish and I’ve done homestays in Cuba, Chile, Israel and Peru. But the best was a time in Germany when an elderly couple invited my friend and I to stay with them in Munich. We spent four nights there and it was one of the best experiences of my travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Accent Travel and commented:
    A very interesting account of a home stay in Cambodia!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great pics and wonderful commentary. Thank you for sharing. I found it interesting and think those who follow me on several social media sites will also find it interesting. I shared!

    Like

  4. Amy Pantone says:

    Makes me really appreciate the things I take for granted everyday. I got a taste of what is was like to go without shower & regular bathroom facilities when we went camping for 6 weeks. I savored my long hot shower when we returned home.

    Like

  5. John Love says:

    I have stayed with families in Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. All good experiences, but I absolutely loved Japan and the people. I was stationed at Iwakuni Japan for a while, but soon learned that to meet real Japanese families you had to get away from the naval airbase area. I was in Aviation electronics in the Corps. Friend of mine and I used to drive out in the country and made friends with a farmer by offering to help him haul water, then in the next few weeks we set up a pumping station for irrigation. He had been hauling it by hand to his rice crop. He spoke no english and we very little Japanese, but luckily he had a niece who spoke english. Almost all teenagers and college students did. This was 1971! Ya, I’m and old codger! After the pump we were family! The pump was a little jury rigged. We got it from base utilities. We did not steal it, after we explained what we were up to they were happy to help out. However we did have to jury rig it to convert and except the Japanese power grid as it was designed to work on 220! They did have a pump that was driven by a commercial Ford V8, but for some reason they would not let us have it! I was also in Vietnam for two tours, but at that time there was no one staying with anyone for any reason! I was always going to go back, but I never did. I even have friends there I could have stayed with or who would have helped find lodging, etc. but still, I never seemed to have the time and the finances at the same time!

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    • John, I always appreciate the stories you share with me. I think we must be about the same age as many of my classmates were drafted and served in Vietnam as well. I love that you used your Yankee skills and were able to help that farmer in Japan. Your act of kindness was life changing for him and his family. Our world would be a wiser and kinder place if there were more people like you! Thank you!

      Like

  6. What an interesting and humbling experience that must have been! It just goes to show how many things we take for granted in our everyday life and how easy it is to live simply, without all the comforts we think as ‘essential’ or ‘vital’. I think I’d really enjoy a much simpler life and travelling in my motorhome has made me realize that less is more.s
    The toilet flushing system reminds me of the droughts in Spain when I was young: we had to fill up the bath tub and buckets for that purpose.
    Thank you for sharing once again. 🙂

    Like

    • I am humbled every day by the generosity of spirit and kindness extended to us by total strangers. I think I am caught somewhere in the middle of appreciating the simpler things in life, but also give thanks for the creature comforts we are so fortunate to have and use if we choose to.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Maxxtrails says:

    We did a home stay in Kasugai, Japan and found it very interesting. While our accommodation was much fancier than yours we still slept on a mat on the floor, and used a bucket to wash. We enjoyed our time in Kasugai so much more because we saw what life was really like, not just the tourist sights. I have really been enjoying your blogs on your travels, thanks for sharing!

    Like

  8. Good post. Sensitive. Reminds me of my backpacking experiences where my baths are out of buckets, usually with very cold water, and the bathroom is a cat hole dug for the purpose. –Curt

    Like

  9. lamediaman says:

    Great post! Reminded me of my honeymoon. We stayed with a local family in Peru. It was a great experience, except for the fact that my wife has hay fever and our mattress was made of straw! We laid down and my wife’s eyes started watering and she started sneezing like crazy! Thankfully, we had something for that. The host family was great, they dressed us up in local custom clothing and took us to a dance, shared meals, and generally had a wonderful experience being submersed in local culture.

    Like

  10. Sam says:

    Hi guys! This was a good share of your stay in Cambodia. Loved the commentary. My favorite was your “flower decoration”‘! It was hilarious and I was even laughing out loud. Hope you guys are still having a blast and be safe!

    Like

  11. babarahs says:

    Nice. Did you happen to meet or know about Bill Morse in Cambodia…he works with the Landmines?

    Like

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