Don’t forget to pack a few extra: ounces of adventurous spirit.
If you only have 24-48 hours in Cambodia, you must visit: a local market for a bite to eat. You have not experienced Cambodia until the scent of prahok — thermonuclear fish paste — makes you more nostalgic than nauseous.
If you’re going to haggle, keep this in mind: turning an apoplectic shade of beetroot over a vendor’s refusal to knock off an extra ten cents is not only extremely unseemly, but insalubrious to boot: do you really want to raise your blood pressure in this heat?
The one food I totally loved was: dried fish fillets. Packed with extra energy to get you through the hard slogs.
The one food I will pass on in the future is: dried fish heads. It is hard to care about “extra energy” when your lunch won’t stop staring at you.
I know it may sound weird, but you absolutely have to try: traipsing through the remote jungles of Cambodia’s west with no more than a guide and ten billion leeches for company. Stunning scenery, and hereafter, when you call the tax department a “pack of bloodsuckers”, you’ll be speaking with authority.
As an independent traveller in Cambodia, the one thing I would avoid is: package tours. This goes for every country on earth, but especially Cambodia.
I was really surprised by: how incredibly cheerful everyone seemed to be - and how locals fit an entire barnyard on a Honda Dream.
The best way to fit in and not draw attention to yourself is: not being a six-foot white girl with tattoos (like me).
When it comes to getting around, I recommend: not hiring a driver/boat captain/norry operator who answers all of your questions with “Yah yah”. This is actually Khmer for “I have no idea what you’re on about, but hey! Let’s go!”
A good place to get basics is: in the capital, Phnom Penh, or more touristy towns like Siem Reap. That said, bottled water is available at all fine shacks and roadstalls across the country.
It’s always nice to say “please”, “thank you” and “how much” in the native tongue: alas, my dullard’s tongue only got as far as “orkhun” (“thank you”), but I did learn that a goofy smile, a lot of polite bowing and endearing ineptitude go a long way.