After the tour of Angkor Wat temples, our tuk-tuk driver invited us to visit his home. We weren’t sure if it was a good idea to accept the invitation, or not, but after all we wanted to see the real Cambodia, away from the polished touristy attractions.
His home was no more than ten minutes drive from Angkor Wat. Such a nice neighborhood, we thought smiling. When he took a turn from the main road we found ourselves on a small unpaved street. Metal huts were built on both sides of the road and some of them, the equivalent of the local 7/11, had all sorts of products on display. Most of these products were strange and new for us.
After few more turns we stopped in front of a small shack. We were welcomed by two dogs, a cat, a pregnant woman and two small boys. The older boy was proudly showing his textbooks in mathematics and literature. The family didn’t speak English, except for the father, who perfected the language, after years of interaction with the tourists.
The younger boy was sitting shyly in the corner of the shack. The backyard was actually a big swamp. In front of the front door there were two large clay pots in which they stored rainwater. Later on they were using the rain water to wash their dishes and to shower. There wasn’t a toilet and as we understood they simply used the backyard for this purpose.
The pregnant woman tried to explain that she is expecting a baby girl. Her husband smiled and told us that it is very easy to make babies here in Cambodia. It just happens. Despite being pregnant, the woman was carrying heavy chairs and was preparing the dinner, while her husband took off his clothes, leaving only his underpants and took a quick shower in front of the main door.
We went inside the house in which there were two rooms – one multifunctional kitchen that turned into a dining area and a living room and a bigger one, which was the bedroom. In the kitchen there were a rice cooker, a fan, an old wooden table and a huge pile of garbage under neath it. The furniture was dirty and worn out.
While the whole family sat on the table, we were offered the only two plastic chairs they had. The dinner they served, consisted of a fried fish head, rice, cucumber salad with a strange green leaves as a bonus and a local hot sauce. We didn’t want to be rude, but also didn’t want to risk it to get sick, so we politely declined their offer.
At one point the small boy started throwing up in his mother hands, who just smiled, put the vomit in a bowl and continue to eat without even washing her hands. This was a big too much for us in a combination with the smell in the sticky air.
Having finished dinner, we were invited to take a nap before we headed out to the bus stop, where we were supposed to catch the over night bus to Sihanoukville. In the bedroom there were three large beds. A Buddhist altar was placed above them, on the ceiling. A small TV and a clothing rack were placed next to the beds. There were a lot of mosquitoes in the room, and a strange smell. A mix between sweat, humidity, food and dirt.
At some point three more people joined in the small shack, our driver’s sister, her husband and their small baby. It turned out that all of them lived under the same roof. And with the heavy rain that poured outside, it all started to look like the opening scene from a horror movie. We politely declined the offer, hopped onto the tuk tuk and made our way to the bus station in Siem Reap.