My travels in March 2013 concluded with 4 days in Cambodia and 17 hours in Beijing** read my next post on how to see the Great Wall on a budget during an airport lay-over (stop-over).
1. I flew into Cambodia from Singapore. Met a Canadian fellow on the plane who happened to be studying on exchange. He was from Waterloo, ON the home of Blackberry. Though I was apprehensive to travel solo, I met many new people along the way. In hindsight I would totally travel solo again!
2. I really wanted to see Cambodia because of the Tomb Raider movie and the outstanding reviews about the ancient Khmer ruins we’ve all seen photos of. When I arrived in Siem Reap, I paid an entry tax (be prepared for that if you go) and bought US dollars because Cambodian currency isn’t widely used. Then I met my wonderful tour guide Kanha Reath of Angkor Journeys. (www.angkorjourneys.com) She escorted me to a traditional Cambodian homestay in her hometown just outside the city where I met her mother, sister, aunt, niece and nephew.
3. Our friendly tuk-tuk driver was included in her tour package. He escorted us through the village to watch the sunset from the rice fields nearby. The scenery was breathtaking. She briefly demonstrated to me how rice crops are cut, collected and harvested. She prepared snacks for us to eat as we watched the sunset.
4. That night we ate a fantastic dinner with her family. Be sure to eat Bamboo rice! and palm tree fruit. Yum!!
5. The next morning, we went on a full-day tour of the three main tombs of Angkor Wat which was an unforgettable experience. Then, we watched the sun go down over Angkor Wat after a steady hike up a low mountain.That night, we had dinner at a buffet and watched a traditional Cambodian dance and concert.
6. On day 3, we took a car (not a tuk-tuk this time) to a lake to see houses on stilts and a floating village. It was remarkable to see children rowing boats to their floating academy.
7. Later that day we continued on a 2 hour drive to see the remains of another empire. Kahna had a number of great stories and details about each destination.
8. My last day in Cambodia was a 4 hour ATV tour of the countryside. Check for it on Trip Advisor, my host’s name was Visal.
9. If you do go to Cambodia, be compassionate, give generously and tip well. My heart was moved while I was there. There’s a lot of poverty and low-income living. I bought whatever I could just to support vendors and kids, even if I didn’t need it. 1 USD goes a long way over there. Also, try not to participate in voluntourism, or at least do so wisely. But do donate school supplies to orphans if that’s where your heart is.
I’ve now been to US, Jamaica, Korea, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Cambodia. Cambodia is easily the best travel experience I’ve ever had!