Walking with the H’mong in Sapa

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

The word winding was invented for the roads that surround Sapa. This is a thought that comes to me as I make my way along those roads, in the pouring rain, the asphalt broken up in most places, potholes filled with muddy water that splash as our tiring motorbike makes it way up and down slopes, carrying my drenched self together with all of my possessions. Looking over the edge, I catch the last glimpses of the dark green terraced rice fields through the thick fog that’s covering the valley. Then my glasses are just too wet and I just don’t see anything.

I’m on my way back to Sapa after two days in the village of Ta Van, and while this apocalyptic journey isn’t an accurate representation of the county or the time I spent there, it really is a good illustration of the differences between Sapa and the rest of Vietnam. Sapa, the largest town in the Lao Cai province, is situated in north western Vietnam, where the country meets with China. It’s also the highest part of Vietnam; its peak, Mount Fansipan, is the country’s tallest mountain. This high altitude means Sapa and the neighbouring villages have a very particular landscape and weather. High altitude means cooler, wetter weather, and so the region is covered in terraced rice fields that are the picture-perfect image of north Vietnam that most know and seek Sapa for.

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa wasn’t on my hit list, actually. But every traveller I met on the road had endless praise about Sapa, its inhabitants and the time they’d spent there, so I set three days aside to make the trip. After an ecstatic 14-hour bus journey from Hue (jokez), I arrived bright and early in Hanoi at 6:30am to get on the 7am bus to Sapa. Around five hours later, I made it to Sapa town, which I left quickly – it was busy, filled with buses and tourists, while I wanted quiet and countryside. I walked along the lake to get to the bus station where I hired a motorbike taxi to take me to Ta Van Village.

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Lao Cai province – that’s usually what people refer to when they talk about Sapa – is a popular destination because of its cultural diversity. The mountains are home to people of nine different ethnic minorities, all with their different traditions, garments, and mostly, different languages. Nearly three-quarters of the population are Black H’mong and Dao people, and almost all are from a farming background. Tourism has changed things quite a lot, though, as I realised while walking with Mimi and her daughters around Ta Van.

Here’s how it goes when you take a walk in one of the ethnic villages near Sapa: you’ll go about one minute until you run into a group of women waiting for travellers to sell their goods to. You’ll say you want none. They’ll ask again. You’ll say no thank you and move on. And inevitably, one or two will start following you asking if you’re off trekking. To be fair, I was happy for Mimi’s company. I walked with her after a day spent inside my homestay and chatting to her helped my cabin fever.

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Mimi is 34 and has three children, two girls and a boy. Her husband is a farmer; they live high up in the mountain, about an hour’s walk from Ta Van, where they cultivate rice. She helps him. She plants the rice and helps with picking, but also cooks, and sews to make clothes for the family and goods to sell. As she explains how long it takes to make a traditional jacket – an intricate combination of appliqué pieces with panels of hemp fabric – I notice the tip of her fingers is blue from the indigo dye. Everyone in the family gets a whole new outfit at New Year. She says it’s one of the busiest times.

On top of all that, Mimi works in the villages guiding travellers. Her daughters sometimes come along, also selling bracelets and pouches. It’s a strange thing to see girls this young outside of school; and there are actually signs at the entrance of the village to remind travellers of the many ways in which we should discourage this form of behaviour: don’t buy from street sellers, especially kids, and don’t give them candy. 

Mimi and I spoke a lot about relationships. She told me about how people used to marry very young. Her own mother is only 50, having had her aged 16. The marrying age is a little older now; her daughter Zai, who is 15, tells me that she is not planning on getting married anytime soon. She wants to get a job. Mimi explains how weddings work; how the parents plan out the wedding, how the man has to pay a dowry that rarely goes to the girl, how the girl will go live with her husband’s parents; how there aren’t enough women across the border in China, so many girls marry into China. Their parents complain they never see their daughters.

She says things are easier for men. That’s where our lives – very, very distant lines, join back. She says it’s easier for men to find women to marry. She asks me if I’ve tried ‘happy water’ – I have, the previous night, and the loally-made rice wine by far the worst booze I’ve ever had. ‘I don’t like when my husband drinks it, then he does nothing,’ she says. 

Oh, the parallels. 

I ask if she wishes that things were different. She shrugs. ‘It’s the way my culture works.’

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of Mimi. I was planning on taking one when going on a walk with her the next day, but it’s her daughter Zai who meets me instead. She is quieter than her mother, but her English is incredible, especially for someone who’s never been to school, as she explains to me. ‘My dad did not want me to go, I don’t know why, but I said I’m not going to stay home and just help you.’ So she went down to the village and started working full time in a bar at 14. Now she does help with watching the buffaloes, and also treks. 

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Her strength is surprising. She does all of our walk on a ridiculously muddy mountain in flip flops, carrying a plastic bag filled with her wares, holding an umbrella when it starts raining, and my hand so I don’t fall over. (I still do, twice. She says if I lived here I’d be able to do it easily. She does tell me that I walk better that some others. I say that’s because I’m not afraid of falling.)

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north VietnamYou can just about guess the mud that covers all of my bum

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

She’s still a kid though. Just a kid.

As I sat down to think back on my time in Sapa, one thing struck me: I saw women from the various tribes everywhere in traditional clothing, walking, guiding, buying food – but no men. The men I saw, many doing building work for the countless homestays being built, were all wearing jeans and T-shirts. Were the dads and husbands to women like Mimi and Zai back at the farm, in the mountain? Or sleeping off happy water? Either way, for a society that, no doubt, many in the West would still consider primitive, in the hills of Sapa, the women work. And they work hard. Everywhere in Vietnam, actually, they do. It’s women who wave at you to come into their shops. Women who sit by pots, stirring soups and cutting pieces of tofu on sidewalks. Women who carry heavy baskets on both sides of a wooden plank, walking around cities to sell fruits and vegetables. Women, also, whom I saw digging the ground in Sapa, carrying bricks in Nha Trang, collecting garbage in Hanoi. To the risk of being stereotypical (I think I’m already too far gone, anyway), the people I saw on sidewalk stools in Hanoi drinking lemon tea and dragging on cigarettes were only men.

But back to Sapa. There is no fee discussed when trekking with local women; but everyone knows the implied agreement: we’ll buy some of their products at the end, accepting a ridiculous overcharge. So I find myself buying an appliqué bracelet and pouch from Zai at the end of your walk; right away attracting other sellers. ‘You buy one thing from her then one thing from me,’ says an old woman. I smile but say no. Word of advice: never tell ‘maybe later’ to a street seller in Sapa. The women and kids will follow you based on that promise, sometimes wait for you outside shops and restaurants. Out-patienting them is hard.

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Sapa trekking north Vietnam

Before I leave later that afternoon, Tung, whose homestay I’m staying at, requests I sing at least a song. I pick Wild World, which has been stuck in my head since a dare in Dalat. Then he picks for me: Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive, first, then Lean on Me. And as we swirl around the mountain in the rain, headed back to the station, I keep singing. And leaning on. Falling off a motorbike is one form of falling I’m afraid of.

Going to Sapa?

  • Bus v train: The train journey to Sapa is a popular one. I think many tourists are seduced by the idea of a night in a train cabin, à la Darjeeling Limited. However, the train journey is eight-hour long and costs $30 to $40 (and isn’t the most comfortable in the world, from what I hear), and the train only drops you in Lao Cai – you then have to take a 45-minute bus to Sapa. Meanwhile the bus journey is only five and a half hours, costs around $15, and drops you in Sapa. The Sapa Express Bus is actually a good compromise, at $17: it’s the most comfortable bus I’ve ever been on, with great staff, and even water and snacks. I’d recommend taking the bus in the daytime (departures at 6:30am or 7am) to make the most of the views going into Sapa.
  • There are many different villages to stay in. If your plan is mostly to trek, start from Sapa and trek to a first village, select a homestay at random, then train to a second the village the next day, etc. If you want a base to trek, I’d recommend booking ahead so you easily know where to get to when you arrive in Sapa. I stayed in Ta Van, which is very popular for its homestays (and therefore, full of westerners), and has a nice short walking route going around the valley. I also hear great things about the village of Cat Ca. Access to the villages is taxed, so take that into account: I had to pay 75,000 dong to get to Ta Van, for example.
  • Prefer a homestay over a hotel. Whether you pick a veritably authentic homestay, or a rather more touristic hostel-style place, Sapa and the province of Lao Cai are known for their welcoming locals and homestays. I think it’d be a shame to make the trip up there and miss on that experience.
  • Trekking tips:
    • Good shoes are a must. Don’t tell yourself you can do it like a local and go hiking in flip flops. You can’t. Waterproof shoes are preferable as you will most certainly encounter a spring or a waterfall.
    • Take a good waterproof. Showers happen unpredictably.
    • Don’t wear anything you care about. If it starts raining, it’s likely you’ll end up on the ground, covered in mud.
    • Go with a guide. Many of the local tribe women make a living out of selling their goods to the people they take on treks. Be prepared to buy something from your guide at the end and to be overcharged for what it is; but you’re basically paying a guide fee and getting a physical memory of your stay.

Snapshots: Hue, Vietnam’s imperial city

From Hue (or Huế, as it’s written in Vietnamese) reigned the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam. The city was also the capital of the country until 1945. These two facts together make for a glorious city, with its citadel and forbidden Purple City a beautiful physical incarnation of the country’s history. Huế’s surroundings are dotted with tombs of past emperors, all elaborate monuments built early into their reigns. Huế’s a good spot for history buffs and photographers into colours and lines (that’s me).

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Hue imperial city VIetnam

Three days in Hoi An

Friendships are both at once the best and worst part of travelling (second only to food).

Everyone told me about how amazing it would be to meet so many people on the road. It’s true that not a day went by without meeting a new face, and occasionally, those new faces would turn into travel mates whom I shared a bit of the road with.

The thing about the road is that it’s overwhelming. It heightens all your senses. Everything is bigger and brighter, every landscape is a little more colourful, the flavours are more potent, and the friendships, more intense. Mere hours separate meeting someone from being the closest thing to family they’ve seen in days. And a few days, or weeks later, the firework’s exploded, the smoke’s dissipated, and you’re alone on the road again.

Until, at random, you meet again. That’s the beauty of the road. We all take the same route.

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam Hoi An Vietnam

I met Jane on the night bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An; we were two white chicks waiting for a bus with large backpacks and a dishevelled look – the best situation to strike up a conversation. Then I arrived in Hoi An to find that my friend Reema, whom I’d met on a minivan in Laos about a month earlier, was also in town. The three of us rented bicycles and headed for a ride through the countryside surrounding the town.

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

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Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An VietnamReema & Jane

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

On my first night in Hoi An, I joined a street food tour organised by my hostel. I met people from Lithuania, the Netherlands, Argentina, Germany – we shared anecdotes about our trips so far, words of Spanish and German, made plans to meet up in Valparaiso.

The people you meet on the road are all different from you, and all open and keen to share. Don’t travel if you’re not ready to share some of your most intimate thoughts with people you barely know. I’m learning to fully do it and appreciate it – travelling is the perfect no-consequence soundboard to test out viewpoints and personalities.

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam

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Hoi An was the first Chinese-looking town I visited in Vietnam. Its buildings are a faded yellow with paper lanterns hanging over the streets that light up at night, bright reds and blues against the pitch-black Asian night sky. You’ve got to pay what’s a relatively hefty fee to visit the old city, but it gives you tickets for five of the town’s historical spots. I took a peek at the Japanese bridge and popped into the Vietnamese folk museum, which I’d both recommend.

The best part of Hoi An, though, was its food – but more about that when I manage to sit down and write about Vietnamese food…

Dalat by motorbike

The town of Dalat, in south Vietnam, is brilliantly chilly. It’s breezy and a little grey, and was such a welcome respite from the baking heat of the rest of south-east Asia. I loved it the instant I arrived – in spite of the fact I got there at 6am, with a mean cold I’d gotten on the night bus, with a day on a motorbike ahead of me. A two-hour kip sorted me out just about right. Travelling is no relaxing activity…

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat is famous with backpackers for its easy rider tours. What that means is that you’ll get on the back of a motorbike and be driven around the area by a guide – or you can choose to drive your own motorbike and simply follow the guide. Not one for me… While I’ve definitely been adventurous on this trip so far and have done things I normally wouldn’t, I’m still struggling to walk without falling over myself, so I feel like motorbikes are one to avoid.

My first stop was Tuyền Lâm lake, a stunning man-made lake flanked by Voi mountain, where I found Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery. There was a lot of tourists around, but still the place felt quiet, especially once a little rain started falling.

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

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Dalat Vietnam

I’ve been instagramming a lot on this trip and it’s made me, or helped me realise how sensitive to colours I am. Colours are what I look for when shooting (along with straight lines – I do love a good geometric snap) and Dalat really delivered on that level. The dark green of the pine forests against the pale grey of the sky, the rusty red of the basaltic soils, the blueish anthracite of the asphalt, the stark white of the road markings… yes please.

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

Dalat Vietnam

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The region of Dalat is known for its flower- and coffee-growing. I took a peek at some coffee plants – I’d never seen any before and it took even this coffee snob a while to understand what those little green grains were. One coffee speciality of the region is weasel coffee. Weasels are fed coffee grains, which, once digested, are collected back from the animals’ poo. I was told the digestive acids give the coffee a special flavour, and naturally couldn’t resist trying it… and it’s true! Weasel coffee’s very smooth, sweet and chocolatey. And goes for around £50 a cup, I hear. Not in Vietnam…

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20161012-img_1402Not a dry eye at the Elephant Waterfall (ha)

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As for Dalat itself, aside from the many coffee shops and a few delicious Dalat pizza spots (a grilled rice paper roll topped with pizza-like ingredients), the main attraction is the Crazy House. Hằng Nga Guesthouse, as it’s actually called, is a hotel-cum-artwork created by architect Đặng Việt Nga. Imagine a mix of Alice in Wonderland, Gaudí, Hobbiton and Disney castle and you’ve got yourself a close picture of what the Crazy House looks like.

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A guide explained to me that this project took many years to get off the ground. Nga had to fight hard to convince both the local and national authorities to allow her design, and the early building was stopped and destroyed several times. Private funding helped to get it properly going, but Nga, now in her late years, still lives onsite to continue overseeing building work, as the property’s still unfinished, 26 years after it first opened.

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Going to Dalat?

  • Stay at Dalat Sky Hostel. It’s the most comfortable hostel bed I’ve stayed in in my time in Asia, and the family dinner is a must-do – huge amounts of delicious food for a reasonable price.
  • Eat Dalat pizza at Cafe 34 on Bùi Thi Xuân. The locals told me it was the best.
  • Go for a drink at 100 Roofs Café. Built in the same vein as the Crazy House, it’s a little bit mad (and fun!)

Exploring the Mekong Delta

I spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City after leaving Cambodia, then headed south to spend a couple days in the Mekong Delta.

On my day tour of Angkor Wat, I had met Lân, a Vietnamese guy, who had planned to drive his motorbike south from Ho Chi Minh City, so I tagged along. We spent about seven hours on the road – and while driving a scooter through the Vietnamese countryside definitely felt like a truly authentic experience, it was positively painful. Still, we made it, and arrived in Can Tho in the afternoon, in time for sunset and a cup of nuoc mia (sugarcane juice).

mekong delta can tho

mekong delta can tho

mekong delta can tho

lan mekong delta

mekong delta can tho

mekong delta can tho

mekong delta can tho

mekong delta can tho banh xeo

The next day, we got up bright and early at 4am to get on a boat to the floating market of Cai Rang. I loved it. Firstly, because food markets are one of my favourite things to visit when I get to a new town. I find them fascinating: there’s so much life; it’s loud, dark, raw; and the people are at their best, arguing, laughing, catching up. So seeing that taking place on boats will remain a great memory. Markets are, ultimately, a really mundane event; but to see it floating made it a bit exceptional to me. Boats would hang a few of their goods to a tall pole at the bow so people would know what they were selling, and other boats, usually smaller, would come by to buy sweet potatoes, pineapples, mangoes, onions and more. It was always large amounts, though – and you’d see lettuce after lettuce being thrown from one boat to another. The balance of the Vietnamese is impressive.

mekong delta cai be floating market

mekong delta cai be floating market

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Some time around then, we got some breakfast – perhaps the most curious breakfast I’ve ever seen. A small boat rowed up to ours, charged with two large fuming pots. Yes: somehow, this little woman had several noodles soups on the go… in her boat. We got our bowls, passed over from one boat to the other, and enjoyed piping hot broth in the morning sun. I’ll remember that a long time.

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Most of the floating market tours also include some additional activities. We visited a rice noodle factory, an orchard (where no fruits were growing but coconuts – not great), and had a long slow sail in the smaller canals around Can Tho. It became difficult to stay awake and alert after a while, what with the short night, so I slightly dozed off, lulled by the sounds of the river and the Vietnamese chatter of Lân and our boat driver. Not bad as mornings go…

mekong delta

mekong delta

mekong delta

mekong delta

The next day, Lân continued south towards Cà Mau while I got on a bus back north to Vinh Long. From there I took a ferry onto An Binh island, where I spent a day and night in a homestay. After three days in the hugely busy, energy-filled Saigon, An Binh was a very welcome refresher. The island is green, quiet and small; easily explored on foot or bike, with lots of fruit trees, quaint canals and really sweet people. Almost everyone I saw waved and yelled ‘hello!’, then giggled when I replied in very poor Vietnamese.

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh islandTraffic jam

mekong delta an binh islandModerate exercise

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh islandLongan fruit – probably my favourite

mekong delta an binh islandDragonfruit growing

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

mekong delta an binh island

I’d really recommend a few days in the Mekong Delta if you find yourself in Vietnam, and would encourage a DIY trip. Even if you can’t ride a motorbike (or don’t have a friend who owns one!), there are plenty of bus connections that allow to construct your own route and see the places you want. And besides, the buses are real cheap…

Siem Reap & Phnom Penh

I didn’t spend quite as much time in Cambodia as I’d expected. I enjoyed Siem Reap – after I’d wandered around Angkor Wat, I spent a day cycling around the town and its canals, taking in the view and enjoying the vibe. It gave me a bit of the same feeling that I’d had in Chiang Mai, that of a chilled town where it felt good to just stop and hang out. I forked out on hipster coffee at Sister Srey and drank cheap beer high on the skate ramp on the roof of X Bar, watching Pub Street come alive.

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Siem Reap felt to me like one of those cities that’s evolved very quick to accommodate for tourism and sort of lost itself in the process. While the centre is busy, bright and loud, the outskirts are light-years away from that. When I went to buy a sim card, I met Savuth, a graphic designer who moved from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to get a foot into the tourism industry, opening his own travel agency next door to his relocated design business. He asked me dozens of questions on what travellers want and how to provide the best possible service for them. His keenness to do good and succeed in this industry was testament to the welcome I had in Cambodia: people are warm and happy to see visitors come discover their culture. But it felt like the industry is flying too close to the sun, and I wonder what the next years will bring.

Teaching in Siem Reap

My favourite memory from my few days there was the pair of hours I spent helping out with an English class in a local school. I’d randomly walked past the school and saw a sign asking for volunteers to come help out with English pronunciation daily, so I showed up. The kids were clearly used to it and were completely unfrazzled to see me sitting by myself on a bench in the playground, waiting for an adult to show up. The tiniest woman finally did, inviting me in to recite the words of the family. The kids and I read about the moon landing and fishermen, then I took them up to the world map to show them where I was from. I showed them France and England; while they couldn’t pinpoint Cambodia on a map. Always that perspective.

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem ReapNot actually a giant, just very small Cambodians #stillnotasiansized

Phnom Penh

It didn’t feel like there was much else to do, though, and I got bored quick. So I set off for Phnom Penh, which left me with a lasting memory… but a rather negative one. A mess up with my night bus meant I arrived at 2am, and found every single hostel closed, and a dormant, even slightly ominous vibe. Perhaps fittingly, most (if not all) of that there is to do in Phnom Penh is war tourism. The two main destinations, the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum were both incredibly powerful and I would highly recommend making the trip to Phnom Penh just for those.

They do make for a tough day. Casually walking past mass graves and human skulls feels entirely out of place. A part of me felt I shouldn’t be there. But, at the same time, I think it’s crucial of us to know and remember that such things can happen, and have, and still do. It’s out duty to do our utmost to stop it, and to keep in our minds the thousands who passed away because of the madness of a few.

Cambodia Phnom Penh Killing Fields

Cambodia Phnom Penh Killing Fields

Cambodia Phnom Penh Killing Fields

Cambodia Phnom Penh Genocide museumTuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Cambodia Phnom Penh Genocide museum

Cambodia Phnom Penh Genocide museum

Cambodia Phnom Penh

Cambodia Phnom Penh

Cambodia Phnom Penh

I know for a fact people are better than this. As I walked around the centre of Phnom Penh on my second day there to get a glimpse of the palace, two different women stopped me to start a conversation. I was wary – I’m still ready for that terrible travelling scam. But both of them were simply very sweet Malaysian women visiting Phnom Penh who felt like talking, and opening up to them, sitting down with those strangers to talk about jobs, and life in London, reminded me that all that we need is a bit of kindness and trust.

Cambodia Phnom Penh

Cambodia Phnom Penh

Cambodia Phnom Penh flag