This is the post I have been dying to do! Every time I’m in Siem Reap (although not many or often), the only things I end up doing are going to the temples, watching a traditional dance show and partying on Pub Street. However, this time, I had a chance to do an amazing tour/visit to a village a little out of town (about an hour tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap town) thanks to an acquaintance living in Siem Reap.
I’m always really careful about visiting villages in the fear that us foreigners turn locals’ way of life into a tourist site as it is very different from how we live. I’m not going to lie and say that it definitely was something I was thinking about the whole time I was doing this trip to the village. I was also a little ‘disgusted’ to realize that this visit to the village we were doing was already a form of tourist industry and it was a tourist package available to visitors. I saw brochures at the hotel we were staying at of ‘village tours’ for around $50 per person and honestly, really made me feel uncomfortable that I was about to be a part of this industry tourism has created. However, like many tourists would think, it was an opportunity not to be missed and in the end, it’s what we take from it right? As long as we are respectful (in the way we act and dress) and realize the negative effects it may have on the local community….. now I’m just trying to justify my actions.
I was glad though, that our tour guide was not a typical tour guide (those who just put on a show for the tourists). Our tour guide was a eco-travel guide who knew exactly about the lives of Cambodians in the villages and how tourism can affect them. From her, we learned a lot. She wasn’t sugar coating or exaggerating anything, which as people having grown up in Cambodia, we really appreciated (we are not huge fans of tour guides who are just full of B.S.)