Cambodia: A Warm Welcome

I was officially welcomed to Cambodia before we had even taken off from Singapore airport.

We hurriedly took our seats at 23D and E (I haven’t slowed down yet!), before Ms 23F presented her tiny frame at our row.

It’s that awkward stage of the flight, when you know you are going to be wedged next to someone for a couple of hours.

Do you strike up conversation?

Do you maintain boundaries by keeping to yourself?

I usually opt for a simple hello, before retreating to the inflight magazine, or in this case, my newly stocked up e-reader that contains so many books, I just can’t seem to find anything to read.

On this occasion, however, Ms 23F started the conversation by questioning us on where we were from, which of course we reciprocated, discovering she was a Phnom Penh local.

“Welcome, welcome,” she replied, flashing a joyful smile, even though we were still taxiing to the runway at Changi.

Turns out she had attended a seminar in Singapore, focussed on wealth creation through passive income sources.

She introduced herself as Khoy, and we struck up a conversation about the seminar she had attended, exchanging business cards (yes, there is a place for them in 2012!).

She assured me that if we needed anything during our stay in Phnom Penh, she would be happy to assist us.

As it turned out, she assisted us plenty with tuk-tuk driver’s numbers, taxi numbers, restaurant names and addresses, even the number of a good english-speaking clinic, if the need arose.

Somewhere New…

We were excited to visit Cambodia, as we had no idea what to expect. Finding such a friendly and helpful neighbour on the flight felt like such a good omen, after a fitful sleep in Singapore last night.

Moving out of our house and handing over the keys on Saturday, selling my car at 11pm Saturday night (!!), and a tearful goodbye to my family on Sunday morning before flying out, left me with a hideous “stress cold sore” taking over my face, and the emotional state of, well, someone not all that stable!

But Khoy’s genuine friendliness set me at ease instantly, reminding me of what I love about travel – people.

People that I would never get to meet sat in front of my telly at home.

People who teach me that the Khmer word for Hello is Soursdey, and Thank you is Horkum.

The kindness continues…

After collecting our luggage, Khoy assisted us (well, okay she did it all for us!) with local Cambodian sim cards, so that we could contact our friend already in Phnom Penh, Marty.

She ushered us into a cab, explaining our destination to the driver, and offered us a map of the city.

We dropped her off to her apartment, with the promise of meeting for lunch or dinner some time.

“When you arrive at your hotel, just send me a text to say you arrive safe.”

And she trotted off down an alleyway, huge suit case trailing behind her tiny but assured frame.

An anticipated reunion…

It’s only been five weeks since we saw our friend Marty off on his SE Asian adventure, but that didn’t diminish our excitement of reuniting in a foreign land.

After so many evenings spent deliberating over our various travel plans, I don’t think any of us thought it was actually ever going to happen!

But we made it.

And if the kindness of Khoy in 23F is anything to go by, I think we are going to really enjoy this country…

Phnom Penh


Traveling in the UK? This post is sponsored by Sykes Cottages, offering over 3,000 holiday cottage rentals throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.



Cambodia: A Warm Welcome — 24 Comments

  1. Oh Sar… Sounds awesome. I frikkin LOVE Cambodia… I’m sure you will find many more friends like Khoy. Enjoy every second x

  2. ugh saw you on sat but forgot to actually say Goodbye! Goodbye and I wish you many unusual and interesting adventures. xx kaz

  3. How exciting… I am really looking forward to reading all about your adventures.

    I love travel but my desire is to sail the Caribbean and to see more of Europe. Sigh… need more $$!!!!

    • Hi Carmel! Yes, we actually made it… The ‘dream’ is now a reality! Just realised I haven’t replied to your last email – keep in touch and I look forward to following your journey :)

  4. Woo hoo! And so it begins :) You are living proof that dreams really do come true if you work hard enough for it. Not many people can say that. You should be very proud of yourself my friend xxx

  5. Sarah – so happy you’ve made it out ‘here’ too! May your adventures in Phnom Penh and beyond be superb :) Where are you off to next? Look forward to reading along!

  6. I would take the kindness of Khoy to be a real omen for you. To me, meeting her was a very auspicious thing to happen to you. Maybe that Irish blessing I wrote you in a previous comment had some power in it.

    Now that you’re in Cambodia, you have to consider going to Siem Riep and visiting Angkor Wat, the ancient Buddhist wonder that’s existed for hundreds of years. If you go you have to stay at Mother Home Guesthouse. Is the website. Both Earl from Wandering Earl and my friend Ali from Ali’s Adventures have stayed there. They both raved about how awesome the place is and how great the service was. It’s very good value for money and they even give you refresher towels at the front door free of charge when you come back in after a hard day’s touring as part of the service.

    As for Angkor Wat itself, I would recommend at least 3 days set aside just for visiting it and taking it all in. I asked Ali from Ali’s Adventures about it and she said that you can buy 1, 3, or 7 day passes at the front of Angkor Wat. I believe also that Motherhome Guesthouse might be able to sell you some but you’d have to find out through them. I haven’t been to Angkor Wat yet myself but I have seen some extended footage in a DVD called Journeys Through Buddhism – a three DVD set that takes you through all the main Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Words and pictures don’t do the place justice. It’s absolutely stunning. You have to see it in person for yourself to understand.

    • Thanks for the heads up Matthew! We will definitely be heading that way at some point, and I have heard of that guest house from those other blogs. It looks lovely :)

    • Cheers Sam! I highly recommend it. We have only been here a week, and I am definitely falling in love with the place. Thanks for reading, it’s good to hear from you :)

  7. Congratulations on beginning your journey! How exciting.

    I hope you’ll make a habit of engaging people on trains, planes and buses. Don’t retreat…push forward. As you have already seen the rewards are endless.

    Can’t wait to read more of your new life.

    • Thank you Jennifer, very wise words there. And so very true, the people here have been such a delight, very chilled out and relaxed yet eager to help. I shall have to remember to be more open…
      Thanks for reading :)

  8. Your an inspiration Sarah and I love reading your blogs, it’s like a great book I can’t put down and now you have left me hanging…. I WANT TO TURN THE PAGE :) have fun and be safe xoxo

    • Aw you’re too kind,it makes me feel so warm and full of joy that you enjoy reading. I hope all is well with that gorgeous family of yours, and that you are a lady of leisure (yeah right!) now? Lots and lots of love xxx