The friendliness of the locals is what strikes you in Cambodia. On a visit to Wat Hanchey – an ornate 8th century hilltop temple overlooking the Mekong River in Kampong Cham province – we were met off our long boat by a cheerful clutch of kids who climbed the 291 steps from the river to the top with us.
Rather than follow our guide we opted for the kids tour. They showed us around the red brick temple, the pagodas, stupas and shrines and pointed out monkeys in the treetops and where the monks do their washing – dozens of orange robes flapping in the breeze. All the while they fired questions at us … “Where do you live madam?” … “Are you Buddhist?”… “How old are you?” …”It’s hot… do you want to rest?”
It was a lovely exchange in a truly peaceful place – a precious keepsake of our journey.
Photography : Maree Azzopardi
Words: Jane Hodges