I have fallen in love with this country - I absolutely love it. Around every corner is something new to experience, to taste, to try.
To say the least, everyone in Cambodia has kept me busy and each day is a new adventure. I just got back from dinner with my guides, Andy and Roth, both whom I adore very much. Andy is very engaging and we've shared some very interesting conversations and Roth is as sweet as can be. They showed me their office and introduced me to the staff - everyone was so friendly. I can't say enough about how wonderful they really are. Having creative, amazing overseas partners like our land operators makes our job so much easier.
It's been incredible here and I'm having a fantastic and insightful journey. I'm in Phnom Penh tonight and off to the Rainbow Lodge tomorrow. From there, we will head to the beaches - can't wait!
Here's an update from our very own Julie Ganski, operations coordinator, who's roaming around Cambodia on a research trip for Myths and Mountains:
Once you've traveled with a private guide, you'll know that it's worth paying for this special privilege. For most of our Myths trips, our clients do have private guides, and they enjoy the added benefits of having a guide who caters to their style of travel and their interests. We trust our guides to share insights into how local people live - it adds a wonderful flavor to our itineraries.
For instance, Sinat explained, "Julie, look, those sticks you see are their anchors" - pointing at the sticks coming from the water, which I wouldn't even think to ask about. Driving down the road, he'll say "Julie, look, they are boiling palm juice to make sugar." I love that he sees details that lets me understand the local Cambodian culture even more!
Another example was when we were hiking to Kbeal Spean. He always would stop and notice the littlest things around us - like an army of termites marching up a tree or a giant centipede worth checking out. The butterflies took quite a liking to him and one landed on his hand and climbed a good portion of the hike with us just hanging out on his hand.
One of the perks of working for an adventure travel company is... getting to go on an adventure! Our operations coordinator, Julie, arrived in Cambodia last week to do some research and development and to check out the newest in boutique hotels for our travelers. Here's her first field report:
I made it to Cambodia! And I love Siem Reap!!!! Gosh I don't even know where to start. Today I said goodbye to my guide and driver Sinat and Sypha. I really loved them both so much, and felt they were more friends or big brothers looking out for me.
I went to Angkor Wat for sunrise the first morning, and had a lovely catered breakfast by the moat in the woods with a table set for one (just me!) with table cloths and flowers. I had a delicious quiet breakfast of coffee, pineapple juice, fresh fruit, a delicious rice noodle, chicken and vegetable soup and croissants. A very enjoyable way to begin the day and what a stunning backdrop. I feel so lucky to be have a job that lets me experience something so unique.
Visiting the Galapagos is an unforgettable experience for most travelers, but for the Malès family of McLean, Virginia, their Myths and Mountains trip to the Enchanted Islands had an impact that continues to echo through their lives.
Experienced adventure travelers, Eric and Barbara Malès, along with their daughter Billie, had already done a substantial amount of research on the Galapagos when they decided to work with Myths and Mountains. "We wanted someone with the expertise to guarantee that it would be a trip of a lifetime, but secondarily someone that really knew how to tailor the trip to our needs," Eric explains. "Later as we got to know them we learned of their commitment to different areas of the world and discovered, for example, that they were very involved in organizing other travel companies to do conservation in the Galapagos."
Mention Cambodia, and most travelers' first thought will be of the amazing temple complexes at Siem Reap. Yet there's much more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat. "It's a country that's just getting on people's radar, and it's definitely worth going to see," says Myths and Mountains President Toni Neubauer. "It has fairly good infrastructure and varied ecosystems and people. I think it should be up there on the hotlist."
There are wonderful beach and jungle resorts, luxury tent safaris to magnificent but little-known temples, opportunities to see diverse wildlife, and of course a fascinating and welcoming culture. Yet most U.S. travelers experience only a fraction of Cambodia's diverse attractions.
"You just don't see a lot of American tourists doing any of this," Neubauer says. "They're missing out."
High on Neubauer's list of Cambodian favorites is the beach resort of Song Saa. One of Asia's premier luxury resorts, Song Saa is set on two private islands in the pristine Koh Rong archipelago. "If you're looking for a truly unique and beautiful beach experience you just can't beat it. A tropical nirvana," she says. Although expensive, the resort is good value because it includes all food and drink, as well as excursions and activities.