This is a series of manifestations from the founders of LikeLocal.io.
2016, it was my first trip to Cambodia. Before that I had already visited Thailand for a short trip and had lived in Timor-Leste for 3 months. I knew pretty much what Asia is, what is tropical climate, but I knew very little about the culture and people.
As my work would be in tourism and travel, I needed to learn the history, to experience the culture․ That took me to the roots of Khmer Empire, the aristocracy of the royal family, the traditions, the divine Apsara dances, the tragedy of Khmer Rouge times, and more.
However, modern khmer culture is different. Of course, their history has had a great role in shaping it but discovering the current lifestyle was my main challenge. I was in Cambodia then, not in the past. I wanted to see how people live, what dreams and challenges they have RIGHT NOW.
Somebody once said: “You learn the real local culture when you start earning your living in a foreign country”. This is when you dive deep into the local mentality, relate with the locals and the community. I had the time, I had the resources for that and I discovered it for myself. I admired it!
Being in the travel industry and working with travelers closely I always aspired to show them the most of Cambodia, in the most genuine way possible. I wanted everyone to have that local experience. It was impossible for such a short time, there was no platform where travelers could get on and merge into the community by themselves.
However, I could see the great need, the great demand for that. We have done it with another agency for over a decade on a small scale. We would take all our guests to lunch with locals, simple local food as they would cook for themselves. Every time, at the end of the trip I would ask travelers their highlight of the day. The answer always came the same: “Lunch with the local family”. But, please note, they’ve always just visited Angkor Wat, one of the greatest sights of Cambodia, that same day. Although, still, the pure, simple and beautiful local soul always wins.
The mindful moment you live when you enter through their door, when you smell it, when you see it, the furnishing, the order of the rooms and living area, the place where all family gathers, discuss their routine, or share their concerns. Imagine how they imagined their lives, the lives of their children, get into their dreams and hopes. These are precious, you can’t put a price tag on it.
But local community, local life is not only that. What about collective, larger events? How are they being organized, how do the locals relate to each other during the mass celebrations? This is another level of knowledge about the society you dive into.
We always wanted to make sure our guests can discover these authentic events that are not orchestrated or designed for tourists. We aspire to make the integration into a local community swift and smooth. Understanding a culture deeply usually requires spending a significant amount of time living within it, immersing yourself in the day-to-day activities and routines, learning from the locals, and getting to know the people and their customs.
However, not everyone has the luxury of taking a long break to fully experience a culture. This is where LikeLocal.io comes in. We want to provide the access for travelers to learn about the local customs, foods, and arts, and interact with locals in a meaningful way. We believe that even short visits can be transformative, and our goal is to provide travelers with a deeper understanding of the culture in a shorter amount of time.