The Cambodia Experience
Golf in Cambodia
Cambodia as a golf destination who would have thought it a few decades ago.
Well it is certainly on the map now. Golf tourism is starting to grow, golf courses are starting to grow in number and quality.
Siem Reap has 3 golf courses, all worth a visit. The beauty is in this wonderful country the golf is interspersed with amazing sightseeing and cultural experiences.
The number one World Heritage Site is the most amazing site you can ever imaging to see.
The size, the scale of the place is just astounding. It really does take some comprehending to realise what must have gone on here during the height of its power.
No photos can do this place justice you have to see the magnificence of it in the flesh.
The most amazing thing about Angkor Wat is thinking how did they build this. They were obviously clever people. You can feel the importance of the place as you walk around.
Truly amazing. Spiritual, Thoughtful, peaceful religion ( yes in a country plagued with genicide) and tranquillity even though there are hordes of people milling around.
Pookethra Golf Club
From Siem Reap you have about a half hour drive to Pookethra GC. It is well worth the drive. The golf club has had a really good makeover and it is an absolute pleasure to play.
As you would expect, lush green fairways, greens that were very well maintained, bunkers with sand to give you confidence.
Played here twice, the course has lots of variety, it is more than a resort course for sure.
The Clubhouse had a colonial feel with great vistas of the course. The food was very good as was the service and caddies.
The whole experience in this emerging golf destination sets the travelling juices going.
The people, the food, the weather, the history, good and very bad.
It’s all there in a cornucopia of delights.
The course has a definite feel of Sir Nick, if you’ve played Faldo courses in other parts of the world you will know what I mean.
Wide fairways, strategically placed hazards and difficult greens.
When in this area of the world caddies are pretty much compulsory. At the Faldo course they were outstanding.
So attentive, so smiley and boy they knew how to read a putt!
There’s plenty to keep you interested on the course, some nice water holes, long par 5s undulating greens, it’s a definite course to play for sure.
So what to do on an evening. Well the centre of Siem Reap is a cacophony of noise, lights, movement and people.
Eateries of every kind, music, foot massages, body massage, tuk tuks . You will not get bored!
The third course to be played was Booyan. This is more of a private club which has opened its doors to the public and golf tourism.
In my opinion this course has the opportunity to be the best of the three in the Siem Reap area.
It just needs a a small touch of TLC to make it quite stand out.
The layout is very good indeed, lots of different holes, water comes in to play often .
The clubhouse was very spacious and all the staff were very gracious. This is a course you will want to play again.
Tonle Sap Lake
On my last day in Cambodia I wanted to finish off with some amazing sightseeing. I certainly got it.
A tuk tuk ride to Tonle Sap Lake to see the Floating village started the day off.
The journey took about 30 minutes, skirting the centre of Siem Reap and through the streets of different villages to get to the lake.
Once there the experience started with a journey on a larger boat down the river to the mouth of the lake.
To ensure there is as little disturbance as possible to people living on the lake you then change to a smaller, paddle boat, the jaw dropping experience really starts.
So why do people live on the lake? Well because it’s free. Land and housing is expensive so it’s the only way an amount of people can have a roof over their head.
There is every amenity on the island, a school, a church, a police station, it is a floating community.
It is like nothing I’ve seen before, people living their lives in such a different way to how I live mine, quite amazing and humbling.
Part way around the lake my guide informed me that what usually happens is the ‘tourists’ call at the shop and buy sweets for the children.
I duly did that. Having returned to our boat I quickly realised that the children were waiting for me.
They came out in make shift boats, looking not dissimilar to a washing up bowl! A truly humbling sight.
It is all very difficult to take in whilst you are there, everything is happening so quickly that it takes a while for it all to soak in.
Reflection time post the trip provides clearer thought and understanding of the difference in how our lives are conducted.
Everyone seemed very happy with what most of us would describe as not a lot!
I think we have a lot to learn!
The journey down the river provided two more lasting memories. A herd of buffalo had moved to the river bank for a bathe and a spruce up. Big beasts for sure!
And finally a fisherman came past us with a boat full of catfish, just thrashing about in the bottom of the boat. Not sure I will see some of these sights every again!
Following the lake trip it was back in to Siem Reap for a good look around the markets and to take in the last few hours of the hustle and bustle that makes this place very special.
My final thought to leave you with is the story of my tuk tuk man.
He picked me up from my hotel, took me to the lake and waited for me. Between paying for the river boat, tipping the small rowing boat guy,
paying for sweets for the children I had no money left to pay the boat guide as he was very good. I asked him if there was a bank machine at the port,
no was the answer. He did say go to my tuk tuk man he would lend me some money. He duly did, $20. Guide was paid and off we went to Siem Reap.
First call was a bank machine, money got I went to pay the tuk tuk man and give him his money back. He said ‘no no no’ I come back for you at 16:00 and take you to hotel’ .
So off he went without being paid for his time and €20 short in his own wallet. How trusting, how amazingly human. Of course I was waiting for him at 16:00
and he got paid his money. And indeed he then took me to the airport and was well paid again. What a lovely human soul, trusting a complete stranger. As said, lots to learn!
Cambodia, well worth a visit.
Dream Golf Holidays