Travelling around Asia was an easy decision for me, but the idea of travelling alone, on the other side of the world frightened me. This is why I chose the option which seemed to be the safest…The package tour. And as surprising as it may sound, I adored it!
After a lot of research, I chose the G-Adventures agency as they have a lot of different tourS for every taste. I would definitely recommend it to people afraid of travelling solo.
Angkor Wat – Cambodge
We woke up at dawn, to see the sun come up over Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s biggest temple. We felt quickly rewarded when seeing this majestic show of colors. However, as you can see on one of my photos, there are a lot of tourists, so finding the perfect Instagram spot might be harder than you think. If you plan to visit it, keep in mind that the site is huge, so count at least a full day to visit.
Bayon – Cambodge
Then we went to Bayon or the temple of the hundred faces. The site consists of on smiling faces (for the greater part) on top of immense brick towers tours. I had never seen anything like this. If you plan to visit do not miss the frescoes visible all around the temple, the details are impressive.
Ta Prohm is probably my favourite temple.. This site in the middle of the jungle is absolutely magnificent! After the fall of the Khmer empire, the site was abandoned for centuries, while nature took over. Roots grew through ruins, and certain trees seemed to be part of the walls. And for Lara Croft’s fans, Tomb Raider was filmed there. It was beautiful.
Siem Reap is also known for its night-life and this is why we ended up in pub street. It’s not far from the night-market, and you can find a lot of restaurants, bars and massages shop. Count only $1,5 for a cocktail! When the night falls the atmosphere changes and tourists from everywhere meet up to party.
Killing Fields & Tuol Sleng Prison – Cambodge
It took us 6 hours to reach Phnom Penh, the capital. The least we can say is that Cambodia is a country full of history. I explored the city and went through the royal palace, the Russian market, the monument of the independence and the brand new Sisowath Quay. However, none of these visits marked me as much as the visit of Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek.
Tuol Sleng is the museum of the Genocide. The museum was formerly a center of detention and torture called S-21 under the Khmer Rouge regime in the 70s. Everything remained intact to remember the horror that took place there: chains, instruments of torture, tracks of blood on the floor or photos of the former prisoners.
We then visited Choeung Ek, also called Fields of the death. Between 17000 and 18000 people have been executed there. On the ground, bones and clothes of the victims resurface after rainy days. A Buddhist memorial was built in the middle of it and more than 9000 human bones are stored there.
It was really emotional for me, that was the reason why I did not take many photos. I thought I knew what happen in Cambodia, but quickly realised I knew so little. I will never forget this day.
If you are interested about this, you should definitely watch “First they killed my father” on Netflix. It’s a movie directed by Angelina Jolie, and based on a true story.
Otres Beach & Boat trip
After an emotional day in Phnom Penh, I looked forward to basking on the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville, while sipping a mojito. The closest beach to the hotel was Ochheuteal beach. It was really disappointing! I decided to go on a quest for my little piece of paradise. This is how I have found Otres Beach. White sand, crystalline water, swing over the water everything you wish for. I joined the group, the next day, for a boat trip to a paradisiac island not far from Sihanoukville. The perfect way to end my trip to Cambodia.
Cambodia is a beautiful country. whether you are into history, breathtaking landscapes, or even wild parties, there is something for everyone. Regarding restaurants, Cambodian food is very flavourful, the only advice I could give is that if you are not a fan of spicy food, ask how spicy the dish is every time you order anything. I ended up crying more than once because of it. Cambodia went through several wars and is still trying to rebuild, so you won’t find the same infrastructures you would find in Thailand, but it’s probably what makes its charm. Finally of all the nationalities I was able to meet while travelling, Cambodians are the kindest by far. And after everything these people went through, their kindness is a real lesson of humility.