Adventures in Cambodia - O'Smach, Cambodia

O'Smach Travel Blog

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O'Smach, Cambodia - ¡Ay, qué linda!

So as hitching was rather easy in Thailand, it only took us a couple of days to reach the Cambodian border town of O’Smach.

We reached our destination pretty late in the afternoon, but just early enough to cross immigration without any problems.  Well, let me take that back.  After a pretty lengthy fuss about money exchange and the upon arrival visa process, we eventually crossed into Cambodian territory.  Phew!! 

And boy was the change sudden!!  We went from an "almost" developed country, to an "almost-NOT" developed country.  It was like being back in Laos.  The contrast between the two sides was remarkably huge.

On one side, you’ve got roads and all the other infrastructure you associate with a wealthier country, and then on the other, you’ve got just dirt roads, run-down government buildings (I think that’s what they were!), and that’s about it.

O'Smach, Cambodia - ¡Guapa!
Oh yeah, let me not forget to mention the casinos that just added that extra touch to development in Cambodia!!  ¡Una locura!

Anyway, as soon as we step foot here, Arnaud and I, both knew the challenge we’d be up against.  It was like deja-vu, all over again!!  Not many cars, bad roads, and folks we could hardly speak to due to our lack of language capabilities . . . hitchhiking was going to be HARD!!!

Our first obstacle, besides the obvious language barrier, was trying to convince folks of our method of traveling.  Well, it wasn’t easy either for us, since most of the cars were taxis.

The time factor was another thing.

O'Smach, Cambodia - Boo!!
  Night was quickly approaching and we still didn’t know how we’d go about getting out of this small border town, and on our way to Siem Riep.

After having dinner, and just hanging around, really, we decided that it’d be best if we stayed the night here and then start off fresh early the next day.  So, what now??!!  Where would we sleep?!!  Hmm?!!  Hard one?  We tried talking our way into having the cops let us crash at the police station, but they just weren’t having it at all!!  Cambodian cops aren’t as willing to help as their Thai neighbors!!  :(

And since we had no cash for a hotel, we figured, why not camp out at the Buddhist temple in town??!!  Done that before .

O'Smach, Cambodia - Our first Cambodian hosts
. . in Thailand, that is!!  Since the cops here weren’t as cooperative as those in Thailand, we really didn’t know what to expect at the temple then . . .

So, we strolled up to the town’s temple, in hopes of receiving a helpful hand.  And that, we did get!!  Thank God!!

The monks in this temple were just as kind and willing to help out, as their fellow Buddhist brothers in Thailand.  However, there were some noticeable differences between the two . . . Here in Cambodia, the monks smoke, look a bit scrubby, and just appear to be a lot more laidback.  Well, that’s the impression I got from the rough-looking monk that welcomed us, in any case!  Looked like he hadn’t shaved in a couple days!!

Anyway, the important thing was that he and his brothers were all ears and had a genuine desire to help us.

O'Smach, Cambodia - Heading to Siem Reap
  And as I’ve already mentioned, they really delivered that evening.  We didn’t get a chance to sleep at the temple itself, but I think we got even better.

These fellas really put their heads together to find a solution to our little accommodation problem. And our request was accepted, in an amazing way . . . after making a few calls, they found us a place to sleep for the night!!

 We would spend the evening with a charming family, who unfortunately spoke no English!!  :(  And being that we spoke no Khmer, communication would prove to be an issue that night.

Luckily though, they had the most gorgeous little girl, who would be how we understood one another.  So despite our inability to communicate with our hosts that night, we would still spend a delightful evening in their company.

The next morning, they awoke us bright and early, with breakfast and their smiling faces to start off the day.  So "OKUN," to our first Cambodian family!!!

Bienvenu au Cambodge !!

Donc, après avoir bien négocié notre entrée dans le Cambodge, car à la frontière, ils ne voulaient pas nous changer notre billet de 100$, nous disant qu’ils n’avaient pas de monnaie !! Après 1h d’attente, ils ouvrirent enfin leur porte-monnaie pour nous rendre la monnaie !!

Encore une fois, sortant de la Thaïlande, vous avez un choc quand vous arrivez en territoire Cambodgien, les routes n’existent plus, c’est de la terre, les maisons sont complètement différentes. Il est vrai que c’est toujours pareil au niveau des frontières, le contraste est toujours très fort. Il faut juste un peu de temps pour s’habituer !

Le jour se couchait, il fallait donc trouver un endroit pour dormir. On essaya pour la deuxième fois la carte du temple Bouddhiste. On constata que les moines Cambodgiens étaient un poil différent, les vêtements étaient similaires, seules leurs attitudes étaient plus libérales, je pourrais dire. La cigarette à la main, le téléphone dans la poche, l’un d’entre eux s’approcha. Il était apparemment celui qui parlait anglais et français.

Je n’avais jamais rencontré quelqu’un qui parlait le Franglais !!! C’était juste marrant, on ne comprenait rien, je pouvais lui dire, bon Mr essayait juste de parler anglais, ou juste bien parler le français, mais c’était sans espoir ! On ne comprenait absolument rien !!

Ils comprirent quand même qu’on cherchait un endroit pour dormir et nous envoyèrent chez des amis à eux.

Cette petite famille nous ouvra leur porte ne sachant pas trop à quoi s’attendre. Imaginez votre réaction si je vous appelais vers 10h du soir, et que je vous dise : je vous envois un couple d’étrangers, ils ne parlent pas la langue, ils vont passer la nuit chez vous, je les ai rencontré il y a 5 minutes. Ce n’est bien sûr pas une question mais une obligation... J’aimerais bien voir vos têtes ou vos réactions après un coup de fil de la sorte :)

Il y avait heureusement cette magnifique petite fille. La communication se faisait à travers elle. C’est dans ces moments là que vous regrettez de ne pas parler la langue. Et il n’y a rien de plus frustrant que de ne pas se faire comprendre.

Ils nous préparèrent le petit déjeuner le lendemain matin avant que l’on mette les voiles.

On allait donc expérimenter le stop et on avait cette impression de déjà vu par rapport au Laos. On s’attendait donc au pire !

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photo by: rjgalvan77