Everyday Life in Cambodia

Cambodians have a reputation for eating almost everything that grows, walks, flies, or swims in their country. And because this is such a fertile and well-watered land, that means a lot of different things pass a Cambodian’s lips (often accompanied by the national staple, white rice).

We got a feel for that culinary diversity during several visits to traditional markets around Siem Reap—some on our own and some as part of organized tours focusing on village life (such as those run by Beyond Unique Escapes and Bees Unlimited). The markets we saw are the sort where the vast majority of Cambodians, rural or urban, buy their food each day.

A smaller market in a country town

Unlike on past trips, where her photos focused on grand vistas and beautiful buildings, this time Melissa is making an effort to capture a snapshot of what everyday life looks like on the streets of the towns where we stay. In Siem Reap, that means everything from “spirit houses” in people’s yards to street sweepers to traffic jams to naps by the riverside.

To get a look at daily life in the countryside, we took a fascinating tour with a quirky older American man from Michigan who has lived in Siem Reap for 20 years. His organization, Bees Unlimited, focuses on helping Cambodians raise bees in a more sustainable way. He also runs tours to the villages where he works, giving visitors a chance to meet rural families and see a wide range of traditional products being made.

The day we went, we saw people making noodles, palm sugar, tofu, baskets, fish traps, and sticks of incense. We also visited a healer who practices a traditional Cambodian therapy in which hot glass bowls are applied to the skin to draw out illnesses and bad humors. Melissa said it felt pretty good.

Although the cups are applied hot, they don’t hurt, Melissa said

Besides capturing life in markets, on city streets, and in rural villages, we tried to remember to photograph a few scenes from our daily lives. They include some of the places we frequented in Siem Reap, plus random oddities we encountered that didn’t fit in any other gallery.

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