Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Simple Life in Battambang

Battambang is full of country side and it is a perfect place for a home stay.  I was ready to leave the big city and head to nature, country, waterfalls, and caves.  I found a wonderful family to stay with and was very excited. 
Sarin, Sitah, Vitiyah, and Satiyah-the cutest, most loving family.  I arrived and immediately clicked with Sitah. She has been married to Sarin for 20 years.  I found her to be quite lovely and beautiful.  Sarin heads to work as he used to be a tuk tuk driver, but just recently got a job at as a hotel manager.  He looked so happy and excited, which I congratulated him and was just as excited as him for his new career move. 

Sitah and I had lunch and she told me about her life and her mother who was sick.  She used to work in a hotel full time, but now she just works there on the weekends.  Her English is not the best, but that is what made it so fun piecing together words and teaching her new words and playing shirades-it is fun. 

On this home stay, I really wanted to immerse myself into the village life to authentically feel what they do.  First she started off with a bag of 200 fish that she had to gut and cut up for dinner.  I sat next to her on a brick as they do not have chairs and sit on the pavement or the bricks.  I sat and helped her gut what felt like 200 fish.  My butt was hurting, but I just kept gutting.  She kept telling me I do not have to help and I can go take a nap, but I kept on shaving off the silver and gutting.  She had to keep reminding me how to do it at first, but eventually I caught on and did not mind doing it, but I have to admit my butt was hurting from those bricks.  I was tired and did not want to sit on bricks anymore after gutting 200 small fish. 
After we took a real Cambodian shower together.  Each of us put on a sarong and went into the well using a large measuring cup to bath ourselves. The water was super cold, but something about it was refreshing. Sitah at first dumped it over my head and chills ran through my body as the water was so cold.  But it was actually nice as the sarong helps keep you warmer.  We kept splashing each other while scubbing with Luxe soap and washing our hair.  Immediately after we take off the wet sarong and put on a dry sarong-I loved this experience and will treasure it forever. 

After our shower, I hopped on the back of her motor bike and we went to the sunset at Battutren, which is an old train station where the train elevates you up over the city.  She looked so content watching the sunset as her eyes drifted off throughout it as she was very tired. 

When we arrived home, I met the kids.  The kids are 10 and 11 and they both get very excited when visitors come.  They are quite adorable and some of the most well mannered kids I have ever met. 

We do some jump roping and play soccer and I try to go back and forth between the games and the kitchen to help out. The whole meal time preparation took about 2 hours from the chopping to the mixing of spices to the hammering the fish and making fish balls.  I did not do a good job hammering as it took me forever to make one fish ball.  Sitah has great toned arms and now I know how she gets them.  I was joking that the hammering is  a good stress reliever as I broke down what stress and relief mean.  She catches on quickly.  After making the fish patties, we fry them in the pan.  Fish cakes are actually one of my least favorite foods in the whole world.  I do not like the flavor or taste at all and It taste nothing like just eating a regular fish because the skin is still on.  But I had to eat them as I was a guest and I had to try local food. 

She had me taste the first one I made and it actually tasted okay because it was mixed with curry and some sort of bread crumb, but I still was not fond of it and neither was my stomach.  I ended up waking up in the middle of the night with a huge stomach ache and threw up the fish. 

The next day I had no energy and could not even get out of bed.  I felt so bad as I did not want to say it was the food and just acted like I was sick, but I could tell she knew it was something involving the food.  She took care of me bringing me a coconut and feeding me a flower and honey.  She then went off into town to get me soup.  She is really the sweetest thing and the time I spent with her was precious. 

Feeling a bit better, I taught the kids some American games and songs.  The sun will come out tomorrow-she seemed to love the song. We looked through the photo album with Sitah’s wedding to Sarin where in Cambodia you wear 9 different wedding dresses, which I absolutely love. You could see the precious Kodak moments in that album and the love and unity within the family was present.  Vitiyah went swimming in the lily pond after dinner and I wanted to jump in, but still was not 100 percent. 

I decided to do my laundry the authentic way with well water and soap.  I used one bin to wash and another to rinse and then I hung them all up in the backyard very nicely.  I was very proud of myself and then an hour later it started to pour and all my stuff was wet again.  This is the reality of the living situation so I just hung the clothes under the roof. 

The next morning I wanted to go into the rice field, but it was still raining.  Leaving that day to go to the caves and mountain, I felt so sad leaving Sitah. I felt like I was leaving a friend behind as she found comfort in me talking and being able to laugh and have me help out with her domestic tasks.  I hopped on Sarin's bike and he drove me to the market where we both parted ways.  He was picking up some food for dinner and I was headed to the Killing Caves and mountain top.  Back to traveling and back to the simple life.....


  1. I showed the blog to all my friends on FB. Also, I gave the link to my coworker Phary from Cambodia and she loved it. She told me to thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Thank you Nesa! Means so much to me that you are enjoying it and sharing it with others=)
    Writing has really become a passion of mine and I am happy to keep sharing with others=)