The country of Cambodia and the city of Siem Reap are known throughout the world for the amazing temple complex at Angkor Wat. However, ICS tour guide Mao Ra reminds us there is much more to the country called the “Golden Land.”
We sat down with Mao to ask him about his country, his favorite destinations, and his advice for first time visitors. Here’s what he had to say:
How long have you been a guide?
I have been guiding visitors around Cambodia for the past 8 years. I decided to become a guide because I wanted to tell tourists everything about Cambodia, so they can have a better experience while they are guests in our country. Besides that, as a tour guide I can learn a lot about the culture in other countries as I meet tourists from all over the world.
What languages do you speak?
Besides our native language, Khmer, I speak 3 more languages…English, German and Spanish. I learned English in Pouk High School, which is about 20 km away from Siem Reap. Later I continued learning English in a Pagoda in Pouk and in Siem Reap. German and Spanish I learned with ICS.
What is your favourite destination in Cambodia?
My favourite destinations would have to be Kulen Mountain and the countryside in general.
I like Kulen Mountain because it is considered a holy mountain. Nature is great there and the highlight is a really lovely waterfall.
I like the countryside because of its beautiful and colourful rice paddies. The atmosphere among the farmers and their families is laid back. That’s what I call the real life in Cambodia.
What is your favorite thing about being a guide?
Without a doubt, the best part is being able to show my culture to everyone and to explain the history behind it.
My favorite part of our culture, which I like showing to tourists, is the way to hold their hands when Khmer people greet each other. I also enjoy explaining the history of the temples, the people and the country in general.
What advice would you give to tourists who are coming to your country for the first time?
For me, Siem Reap is not the “real Cambodia,” however just a few kilometers away from Siem Reap you will find it in the countryside. You will have a much more complete visit if you experience one of the excursions. A tour guide with ICS will show you the best places in the countryside. The “real Cambodia” is the way people live their daily life compared to the people in tourist-focused towns like Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.
What is something a first-time tourist should do to make their trip more comfortable or enjoyable?
A first-time tourist should read as much as possible about Cambodia – the history, the culture, the locations – before coming here, so he/she will be able to have a richer understanding of our country and the people.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
To explore the country and the culture you certainly have to return to Cambodia again.
Thank you, Mao! We appreciate having you on the ICS team!
Let ICS show you the Cambodian countryside! Book an excursion today!