Cambodia is our focus this month as we have been catching up with the hospitals and clinics that DocTours works with across the country. We have also been meeting with some new hospitals that need our assistance to help deliver better healthcare and develop the local staff. Geographically positioned between Vietnam and Thailand, the people are smiling and welcoming. Happy reading, warm regards and please follow us on Facebook, Karin and Derek.
Ten Things You May Not Know About Cambodia
1. Stunning architecture: Restored French Colonial era architecture is evident in the villas, guesthouses and restaurants along the river sides, while old stone bridges and traditional Khmer wooden houses create a rich architectural heritage. The city skylines feature cranes and there is a strong rate of construction taking place.
2. It’s crazy busy: the roads are flooded with bicycles, motorbikes, tuk tuks, cars and small but overloaded trucks. With very few traffic lights, roundabouts or Give Way signs, the traffic is chaotic however seems to flow steadily with lots of ducking and weaving.
3. Dining alfresco is popular. Enjoy a Khmer Chicken Curry or Fish Amok washed down with a French wine, a cold beer or refreshing cocktail. Yao is a delicious locally made sorbet with tropical fruit flavours and is available from most restaurants. The country is well connected with many cafes, guesthouses and buses having unlimited free Wi-Fi.
4. Alcohol is cheap! It’s hot all year round in Cambodia and what better way to relax and unwind at the end of the day with a cold drink. Many hotels also offer a daily happy hour (or two). Unfortunately, excess consumption leads to road accidents (particularly on the weekends and during public celebrations). The lack of calcium in the local diet contributes to multiple, complex fractures. Stress and the availability of cheap alcohol has ranked Cambodia as the second highest country for alcohol abuse after Russia.
5. Circus Circus: After dinner, visit the local circus in Battambang or Siem Reap. The Phare Ponleu Selpak helps over 1000 young people with free training in the arts and education. The show has a Khmer flavour and highlights juggling, acrobatics, balancing, traditional dance and music. There are no animals, just lots of good fun from the young enthusiastic performers!
6. Wearing a helmet is compulsory however compliance is not enforced. Many riders seem to be chatting into their phones while driving and the more creative riders squeeze their phone into their helmet so that they can chat on a ‘hands free’ basis while driving.
7. More Land mines: Unfortunately there is still an estimated 4 million unexploded land mines in Cambodia. The trauma hospital sees 4 victims each week with horrific injuries. Expansion of their agricultural plantings, wet season and double depth mines sadly results in amputations, long hospital stays and extensive rehab.
8. Local diet: The staple food for Cambodians is white rice and is eaten in the form of street-side snacks, soups, noodles, seasonal herbs and vegetables. Local sugar cane has been introduced into the diet and seems to be added to many foods such as white bread unnecessarily. Protein for the more adventurous types includes bats, rats, scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, crocodiles and insects. Rats breed in the rice fields which are surrounded by electric fences, when they are electrocuted they are collected along the fence and barbecued as a local delicacy. Apparently they have a gamey flavour and does not taste like chicken.
9. Destructive Diabetes: Is surprisingly high in Cambodia and affects 5-10% of adults (depending on the area).
10. Getting fit! Outdoor exercise is becoming more popular for the locals with aerobics, yoga, gym equipment and football for the public in the parks along the river front. The Cambodians are very slim however the benefits of health and exercise seem to be attracting growing crowds every day at sunset.