When you visit a country where life is so different than from where you come from and you’re curious to find out more about the local ways but don’t speak the language, it’s probably a good idea to join a tour and let a local person guide you. I’m not a fan of guided tours in general, those that are too standardized, show people a “manufactured” reality or only a specific selection of what the local life is really all about and make you feel too comfortable, in the sense that things seem too relatable and not completely authentic.
Joining a biking tour around Battambang with Butterfly Day Tours, we experienced the opposite of the above. We got what I like to call “the real deal”. Our guide Sopheap took us just outside Battambang, one of the main cities in Cambodia, to understand how local people in the countryside make a living. This tour, named “Traditional Livelihoods” allowed us an insight into Cambodian’s life that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, as one wouldn’t even know where to start!
The tour consists in almost 30Km of fun, around villages, settlements by the river, road-side markets in the suburbs and pedaling along dreamy green paddy fields. This video gives a pretty good idea of what you can expect to see:
The landscapes you bike along would have been enough to make this morning worth it, but all the people we got to meet on route and the conversions with Sopheap, made this tour one of the highlights of our visit to Cambodia.
There’s around 10 stops on the countryside, to understand how people make a living, chat with them briefly about past and present life in Cambodia and, in some cases, try the products they manufacture. I was thankful for the fact that, in no case, we felt pressured to buy any of the products people were making, like it’s unfortunately common in some other tours. I particularly enjoyed observing how a local lady made rice noodles from scratch, a family business that consists in making rice paper for spring rolls and how they make fish paste in a local open-air factory (amongst other local trades).
Like everywhere else in Cambodia, kids play a major role in making your day positive and flooded with good vibes. If you join this tour in Battambang, get ready to say HELLO to dozens of kids that will wave and smile at you as you bike past them.. at least that was the case with our group – so much laughter, such good fun!
Sopheap is an excellent guide. He’s ready to explain everything that has to do with the tour but also talk about life in Cambodia in general. During the (much deserved) fruit break we did mid-morning, we got to learn more about Butterfly Tours and the fact that the company is run by university students. Not only they run the tours with such high spirits and enthusiasm, I’d also much rather go on a tour with a local guide and with a company operated by locals, rather than one run by foreigners – and considering this is a good company, that makes even more sense!
More info: www.butterflytour.asia
Tel: (+855) 89 29 70 70
Half-day Traditional Livelihoods Tour costs between $11/$17, depending on size of your group (up to 6 people).
Includes: bikes, pick-up and drop-off by tuk tuk, fruits & drinks.