If you’ve never experienced a homestay on your travels to South East Asia then the very idea of it could either be seriously intriguing or a little daunting. Some questions we hear a lot – is it strange staying in someone else’s home? What are the facilities like? Will there be any of the creature comforts I’m used to on holiday? With these same questions in mind, Senior Manager Vicky travelled to Cambodia to find out for herself, see why she advises you face your unease and do it anyway.
First work out if you’re genuinely open to it
My advice – decide if you’re genuinely open to it beforehand. Think about day to day life – are you normally able to truly relax and go with the flow? Because you’ll have to be ready to do just that. Can you live without those creature comforts back at home? Even if it’s just a few days. Is your mind really open to experiencing life as a local Cambodian. And I mean really open. Even if it means, being woken by a chorus of cockerels at sunrise? And taking to your bed at Sunset. With no wifi or evening entertainment, remember the days of playing cards – you will need to bring them.
Keeping clean in the countryside – Cambodian style
And then there is the ‘shower’ – well the Cambodian equivalent – you know that feeling when you first dip into a cold swimming pool? It’s not pleasant but you do it, well that’s how you feel here. With a pan for scooping water, and a wet room, you do have everything you need to feel fresh. Your bathroom is shared and you have to go outside to use the loo, but that’s ok because the loo is western style so luckily no squatting!
Stock up with additional snacks
Your meals will consist of rice, egg and ‘meat’ even though the quality is amazing, it can be quite monotonous but that’s easy just bring some snacks – mini cheddars worked for us. And don’t worry, water is provided.
Your private bedroom has a mosquito net provided and is clean and comfortable.
For a truly heartwarming experience
So why do it? Now this list is much longer. Where else can you watch the water buffalo bathe at the end of the day as the sunsets over the rice paddy?
When else would you get the chance to explore the true countryside with no other tourists in sight – definitely nowhere near Angkor Wat!
Where else can you meet the local children with their pristine white blouses and not a washing machine in sight, playing in their school playground.
The smile on the children’s faces as they taste the Haribo you brought from the UK for them, or the skipping rope you gave them, or marbles, or balloons. Even the most basic of toys will keep these children entertained for hours.
And this is all before you have visited the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, an archaeological site that is trying for UNESCO status. As mother nature disguises them in the forest you can even forgive the bumpy bike ride to get there (alternative transport could be available).
Warm welcomes all around
Suddenly your fear of no hot water, no wifi, limited electricity and being in the middle of nowhere – seems insignificant as the local English speaking guide from a nearby village is there to make sure you feel safe, secure and enjoy every minute of this basic but cleansing and meaningful experience.