Local Experiences – Fish Markets of Cambodia

The more I look back at my first international trip to Cambodia the more I think about how special it was to visit to the local fish markets. Everyone can hit the same tourist spots to see the temples, the mountains, the iconic landmarks and you should! That’s part of the beauty of these countries. I’ll never tell someone to spend thousands of dollars to travel across the world and not spend some time taking in the icons and tourist attractions that probably made you want to visit in the first place. I only mean to point out the importance of finding at least one experience that is tourist free. 

In this experience we traveled to Cambodia and found ourselves shopping in a fish market far from any tourist attractions. I’ll never forget pulling up to the market as my nose filled with the overwhelming sent of raw fish. There was a young man walking a large cow down the road like a dog and small children darted every which way playing outside the covered markets. Everyone was Cambodian and almost nobody spoke English. If you’ve read my previous blog then you’ll know that just a night or two before I had been in the midst of a mental breakdown as I second guessed my decision to travel abroad. But seeing these native people “in their element” doing what they do everyday was incredible and eye-opening. We made our way through the main market and watched as piles of fresh fish were carved and prepped for consumption. Villagers with old knives and no shoes or gloves worked hard all day to sell fish, fruit, and more.

These were also some of the nicest people that I have ever met. Everyone greeted us with a shy smile as they moved past. There were no concerned looks as obvious foreigners walked through their home markets. Everyone’s expressions were incredibly warm and welcoming. As we got to one end of the market we saw a woman sitting on the ground cutting and measuring a jack fruit. She happily let us try the fruit and was delighted when we decided to buy one. And right before we left we bought a bag of peanuts which had been roasted and fluffed in a way that I had never eaten before. So delicious! 

Their gratitude from us buying the smallest, cheapest bags of food put so much into perspective as well. What seems to be pocket change for us, was greatly appreciated by them. I continuously ponder the happiness that everyone seemingly maintained throughout their day. I believe that expression of joy was due to the community that held the village and the markets together. Everyone selling or buying goods seemed to know everyone else, and the kids were accepting guidance from not just their parents but every adult around them. Everyone was responsible for the person next to them and the village failed or prospered together. That is an experience that I hope to live someday although I am not sure when I will have that opportunity. It completely transformed the way I view my own neighbors. Why not have more people over for dinner or commit to help out when someone is renovating their basement? These things I would never have thought twice about before this hot, humid, Cambodian experience. Getting out of our comfort zone for just a couple of hours proved to be one of the most memorable experiences of our trip and I would not hesitate to return! 

Hard at work – Cambodia
Business is Booming – Cambodia
Knives and Fish Galore! – Cambodia
Quick Fillet – Cambodia

Every country, every city will have both an experience that every tourist will have been to. But they will also be filled with endless locations where you can experience the local culture in a completely different manner. You will be challenged with communicating with others who do not speak your native language and that is totally ok! By putting yourself even further out of your comfort zone you will grow more than you would at any tourist location. It will give you the opportunity to really see what these different cultures have to offer and that’s what traveling is all about right! 

I hope you were able to take something from this blog and if there’s any way you can get to a local market or a less touristy location during your next travel adventure I would highly recommend doing so. In my opinion it is the best way to grow and create lasting memories when you’re in a new location. So get out of your comfort zone and learn to embrace the experience! 

And thank you for reading my blog! If you want more content around travel, photography/videography and adventure all while appreciating the community around each experience please follow my blog! You can also find me on instagram, facebook, and twitter. If you have a comment or question please leave it below, I would love to hear you experiences and how you grew from them. Have a great day!

Three Ways Cambodia Changed my Mental Outlook

I met my girlfriend back in April of 2017. She is an avid travel bug and as I got to know her I thought it might be fun to give international travel a try. So in September of 2017 we packed our bags and took flight to Cambodia in Southeast Asia. Here are three ways it completely changed my outlook on life!

1. I Learned to Appreciate the Initial Shock of a New Country

After a long but restful flight from America to Cambodia we arrived late at night and hopped into a pre-ordered taxi to get to our hotel. I held myself together but later admitted to Shaylin that I was completely mortified! Where the heck are we right now!? As we drove through the streets of Phnom Penh my internal meltdown told me that this foreign place was not where I belonged. Every block further from the airport was another reason why I should turn the taxi around and fly home immediately. It was not until well after the trip that I realized that my reaction existed only because this was a drastically new experience for me. I had no knowledge of this side of the globe and it was very evident upon arrival. But I trusted my girlfriend and figured I could survive this experience if I just persisted through this initial shock.

2. I Learned that Culture Submersion Leads to Understanding

The next day we immediately went back to the airport to fly to Siem Reap and further into the unknown culture of Cambodia. We hired a tour guide for our first couple of days and he did an amazing job of immersing us in the local culture. At the end of our first day my mindset had completely transformed and my opinion of Cambodia could not have been more positive! The people who I lacked knowledge of proved to be some of the kindest humans I have ever met. The landscapes and ancient structures are sights that I will forever remember, and the local markets provided some of the most authentic experiences to memory.

I HIGHLY recommend hiring a local tour guide for the first day or two in a new country. They will help acclimate you to your new surroundings and once you are comfortable you can venture out and explore on your own.

3. I Learned to Admit that I was not as Open-Minded as I Thought

The country of Cambodia will always be special to me as it provided proof that my mind was not as open as I once thought. I had convinced myself that I could read about any place enough to travel there successfully and I’ve never been more wrong! There is no substitute for experiencing a country in person and pushing yourself to grow every step of the way. I now have the slightest idea of how different people live around the world and that helps me to appreciate all of the opportunities that I’ve been given. Needless to say I caught the travel bug and we visited Peru just a few months later, but that’s a story for another time. 😉

Working Hard in the Fish Markets

What was your first travel destination? What was your initial reaction and how did if effect your outlook on your life? Where’s the next place you hope to visit? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments! And thank you for reading my blog! If you want to see more content on travel, photography/videography, and adventure all while appreciating the effects of community and understanding then please follow along!