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29.12.13

The Kingdom of Cambodia Pt 2

12 days of living out of my backpack in 3 countries (Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand) and 5 cities (Saigon, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Pattaya, Bangkok). I must say it was one helluva experience. I got to learn and experience much of the countries' culture. 

Waking up to the blaring street music in Phnom Penh, Tuk Tuk drivers going "Hey lady, Tuk Tuk?", waking up on the coach to see a truck full of pigs and a basket full of cockroaches from the window, having your passport taken by the bus attendant not knowing what the hell is going on at the Vietnam-Cambodia border, getting lost together with fellow backpackers at the Cambodia-Thailand border, getting lost in translation to the point where you had to resort to playing a game of charades with the street vendors or cab drivers, random bed time conversations with the girls in the shared rooms, hearing stories from the girls about they got mugged on the streets upon my arrival in Vietnam, random Hostel Parties in all the hostels that I stayed at... definitely not a regular thing for a city girl like me. As dangerous as some of them might sound, I am thankful and glad that my Backpacking Adventure went smoothly. 

Not only did I take home with me an unforgettable experience, I also found myself along the way. I reckon most of you might have read articles about traveling, if not, read this, this, this, and this. I have also put together some tips based on my backpacking experience so here goes! 

Going solo: 

1. I actually spent some time exploring the (Bangkok) city alone on my Backpacking Adventure. I personally feel that going solo is pretty much liberating, yet extreme and intense. Firstly I will have to face up to everything on my own, and find the motivation to move on, explore places and be sociable all by myself. There will be lonely times for sure, but I gradually learned how to be more open to my surroundings, i.e Make effort to chat up to new people as indeed they will to you. Another good thing about traveling alone is that you can change your plans at a moment's notice or idle your days away without feeling guilty at all! 

Traveling with a friend: 

2. There are + pluses and -minuses to traveling with a friend. Traveling with one or more companions means there's always someone to chat to and plan things with; mull over experiences, share enthusiasms and worries; or even feel much braver about exploring if you're with a travel buddy. However, travel is a surprisingly stressful activity: the heat, the sheer strangeness of things that are bound to fray your nerves, the hassle. Well, expect to get on each other's nerves and be prepared to split up during the trip - either for a few days as people do have different priorities. 

3. On a practical level, I assure you lots of money will be saved as double or triple rooms are better value and taxi expenses will be halved.  

Budgeting: 
4. One thing to remember is that generalizations are dangerous. You will definitely hear "Oh, Asia's bloody cheap!!" again and again. Do spend a bit of time thinking about budgeting before the trip so that will leave you with more energy to enjoy Asia once you're there, rather that worrying about survival. If you're seriously strapped for cash (just like me, I could have covered more cities in Indochina), it is worth planning a shorter trip. I guarantee that you will have a better time than if you embark on a penny pinching haul.

5. How much you spend depends on the sort of holiday you want to have. For example, for countries like Vietnam and Cambodia will likely set you back about USD10-15 daily, however once you consider a bit more comfort; better quality food, a single room, a few beers, and the occasional minibus tour, well I guess USD25-30 is a much more realistic. Cambodia is generally very cheap for foreign visitors, however there are also plenty of potential costs outside your daily living expenses (admission charge to Angkor Wat is USD23 per day, USD43 for three days and USD63 for a week) and these can quickly add up without you realizing it. 

6. There are plenty of ways to save money on the road. One of which is to eat as local people do. Western food and drink cost so much more than local food throughout Asia. 



The Old Market (Phsar Chas)
 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum 
Bangkok

Fierce and Love, 
J



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