Mother-Daughter Travel Series: Emma & Tina

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

For our next Mother-Daughter adventure, we travel to Cambodia with Emma and Tina. Tuk-Tuks, Wonders of the World and cake!

Read Emma's story about how she celebrated her Mom's Birthday by going on a truly eye-opening adventure!

When I picture Cambodia, I see myself and my mother riding in a tuk-tuk through the French district of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is a place that took me completely by surprise as a fifteen year old girl. My mother and I had recently made the big transition of living in New York City to living in Singapore. In the short two years I lived in South East Asia, I was able to extensively travel from country to country via charter flights. At this point, I visited Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Taiwan. Yet my mom was set on visiting Cambodia. Cambodia had always intimidated me as a country to visit, its reputation as a third world country and its human rights violations made my young teenage mind hesitant to embrace it at first. It wasn’t until I landed in Phnom Penh that my entire perspective changed.

I found the place quirky and instantly fascinating. Faded posters of big American movie stars like Leonardo Di Caprio and Angelina Jolie specked Phnom Penh. Similar to Vietnam, the population primarily rode scooters as transport- often packing themselves onto their fragile two wheelers. I have always enjoyed riding in a tuktuk - a carriage attached to a moped driven by a usually very friendly local. There is an inherent freeness in the flow of traffic, like in most third world countries, and I couldn't help but notice the dusty roads.

Cambodia has gone through many thing and my mother and I were fascinated by the rich history and culture of this country. Most notably, the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge: a somber yet fascinating visit. In one display, skulls of incarcerated Cambodians are stacked in a symmetrical pile one atop of the other. In another corner a massive ominous tree stood formidably with a sign explaining that children were often pulled by their hair and whacked to death against this very tree. In order to hide the noise of the murders, a large retro speakerphone was attached to the tree playing eerie Cambodian music that only added to the horror. It was something I knew nothing about and was shocked to understand its resemblance to the holocaust. It also showed me how much the western world places importance on cultural events that occur in the western hemisphere only.

Another thrill was making the trip to Angkor Wat - known as a wonder of the world it truly feels like stepping into another universe.

What struck me most as a young girl traveling through Cambodia was despite the poverty, devastation and hunger, people remained very optimistic and kind. I was very aware of my privilege to have never experienced these problems and the experience has stuck with me.

We made our trip to Cambodia in May for my mother’s birthday and one of my fondest memories was surprising her with a birthday cake over breakfast in our small but dainty hotel in Phnom Penh. The staff helped me sing happy birthday to my mom, and after we went across the street and had incredible Vietnamese food. Homemade spring rolls and and two entire bags of assorted greens we had never even tasted before. What surprised me about Cambodia is how they were able to make food from other cultures remarkably well. In addition to amazing Vietnamese cuisine, I enjoyed authentic French and even Mexican food, not forgetting the gigantic frozen margaritas that came to just 4 USD!

Cambodia to me seemed like a hidden treasure, and for a long time I found myself dreaming of this fascinating country- hoping to one day return again, and hopefully with my mom!

What an experience to have at just 15 years old! We hope you get to go back soon to rediscover your hidden treasure with your Mom, and see what's changed again over the years.

Do you have an amazing travel story with your mother or daughter?


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