Keeping it real
The homestays offer a special opportunity to experience Cambodia as it is lived by Cambodians, sharing space and meals with your host family. Well, provided you’re not too exhausted from trekking. There are 51 homestays within the four villages that participate in the programme (there are nine villages in Chambok commune altogether), and you will be assigned yours on rotation. The point is to spread the benefits of the programme so that no-one is tempted to lapse back into bad habits.
We’ve stayed here twice now, and on both occasions were warmly, if shyly — in fairness, we were too — greeted by the host families, who were never anything other than gracious. The homes are bare but scrupulously clean wooden houses up on stilts, and usually set within a small, dusty clearing beside the road.
Your room should have a simple mattress, mosquito net, blanket and fan. They don’t provide water, and you may need to have your own towel, or do what we do and buy a sarong at one of the markets (not at Kirirom). They manage to be sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, and occasionally even a sarong, all wrapped up in one very pretty, light $3 package.
Unlike Chi Phat, electricity is available all the time as all of the houses now have solar power, thanks to one of the plethora of NGOs who seem to have had a hand in Chambok’s “development”. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to charge your phone though. In our room, the fan was plugged in by electric clamps.
The toilet will almost certainly be in a shed outside the house, and will most likely be a squat toilet. The shower will be a bucket shower, with fresh water off the mountain. Squat toilets are much better for you than Western-style seated ones, and once you get the hang of them they’re pretty comfortable and easy to use. The showers are quite simply the most refreshing way to start the day.
Most families keep an array of animals, from chickens to pigs, and you’ll also find cats and dogs aplenty. Talk to them all you want, you’ll amuse the family no end, but it’s probably a good idea to take worming tablets when you get back to the city.
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Standard single room||US$4||US$4|
|Standard double room||US$4||US$4|
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
Browse hotels on Agoda
Provided by Travelfish partner Agoda.