One of the things that is glaringly obvious traveling through South East Asia is just how well trodden the tourist trail is – the banana pancake trail if you will. The Lonely Planet seems to be the de-facto travel book throughout Asia and anywhere mentioned in it is pretty much guaranteed to have tons of tourists there. I won’t rant about the positives and negatives about this fact, but the biggest negative I find is that everything in the tourist areas revolves around us westerners which results in a seemingly major loss of the native culture. Hrrmph. Isn’t that why you want to experience new places??
If you really want to though, it’s not too difficult to step off the tourist trail and get a real taste of the country around you. Although I will admit that I haven’t ventured out of the way nearly as much as I would like to, the times I have have been some of my favorite memories of the trip so far.
More than anything, my favorite reason for wanting to get away from the locals who see tourists every day is the kids. I love hanging out with kids in foreign countries because they don’t care that you don’t speak their language and have very few social barriers restricting their interaction with you. They crack me up and make me smile and I like to return the favor. Most of the time that seems to center around kids seeing their picture and laughing like hyenas. Here are some pictures of my new friends somewhere off the beaten track near Katie, Cambodia.