We had our flights booked for Cambodia and were prepared to travel with our two kids aged 2 & 5. The adventure was around 9 months away and we started researching the region making lists of what we all wanted to discover.The more and more we read, the more our 5 year old, Cooper, wanted to do something to help the kids in Cambodia. He found it really hard to imagine how some kids couldn't go to school. He decided to get people to sponsor him to do a kilometre walk using his walker. He hadn't walked that distance before and it would be a big challenge. Cooper did it and we ventured off to Cambodia to visit the organisation that he raised $15,000 for. This is where our love of Cambodia begun and it will remain in our hearts and minds always.
Cooper is ten years old now. Pepper our daughter is seven and our youngest Elwood is three. We have been to Cambodia twice, and we will go again and again. Cooper also happens to have Cerebral Palsy and uses a variety of mobility and ACC devices. At home he uses a powerchair for long distances, a walker for shorter ones and can walk independently around his classroom after a year of intensive physiotherapy. He chooses verbal speech although difficult to understand and uses an iPad and clicker 6 to access the school curriculum and share his ideas. He loves to travel and has a great love of geography and history.
When traveling he uses a manual wheelchair. We also attach a little board on it called a bumprider for his brother to use and that way we can all access the adventures.
In Cambodia we have explored both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and the beach area of Sihanoukville. Cambodia gives a great variety of city, temples and beach, exposing kids to difficult cultures and adventures. In Siem Reap the main attraction are the temples of Angkor. They are ancient ruins and filled with adventures and lots of steps! The great thing about Cambodia is that there are always people willing to help. With some planning and organization, exploring Angkor using a wheelchair is possible. The external areas of the temples can be wheeled around but to get up into them and explore, it takes a bit of manpower lifting the wheelchair! In town or through your accommodation you can organise your transport and extra support. We also loved the Phare Circus, night markets and Pub street for enjoying dinner and just wandering around.
In Phnom Penh, the capital city, the riverfront is a great area to explore as the day cools down. You can join in street aerobics in the evening! My kids loved the Royal Palace and hiring a guide was the perfect way of learning so much about Cambodia's history.
In Sihanoukville it was a week to just relax on the beach. There is a long boardwalk along the beach front and you are spoilt for choice with fresh seafood. To get between each area we caught a bus, but you can hire a private driver too.
When I think of Cambodia, wheelchair access is difficult and not ideal but if you are up for the challenge it can be done! Flexibility is the key as well as remembering that Cambodia is a developing country so the roads and footpaths are often in disrepair. With planning and an adventurous spirit we fell in love!
The Smiths are a family of five living in Australia. They have traveled the globe with their son, Cooper, age 10, who battles Cerebral Palsy. His disability has not stopped the family from fulfilling their travel dreams. Cooper, his brother and sister each love to travel and explore parts of the world thought to be inaccessible to people with disabilities. To follow more of their adventures, find them on Facebook, Instagram or on their blog.