It feels strange to have finally left Asia after spending almost two years there. For us, travel has been inextricably linked with this part of the world. When I think of backpacking my mind conjures up images of long, cramped bus journeys and never-ending terraces of rice, gold-carpeted beaches and heaving cities full of motorbikes and street markets. I think of wading through soupy, humid air, the smell of citronella insect repellent, incense from temples, and spices from road-side food stalls; I hear beeping horns, crowing roosters, prayer calls and the lapping of the sea.
We’ve been back in the UK for over a month now and after an incredible homecoming we’ve settled back into life here more easily than I ever imagined we would. As I write this we’re sat at the kitchen table in someone else’s beautiful South-London home while their cute five-month-old miniature schnauzer mills around our feet. We’re house and pet sitting for the first time in our favourite city and even though it’s raining outside, life in London is undeniably great.
Cambodia doesn’t have a wealth of options when it comes to tourist transport; there are no trains (other than the touristic bamboo train in Battambang) and flights are out of the question for budget travel. To get from city to city we had no choice but to use a mixture of buses. So read on to find out more about bus travel around Cambodia; expect breakdowns, bribes and bundles of air con! Here are our travel tips for Cambodia.
Our eleventh month on the road was spent in a country that charmed, awed and saddened us: Cambodia. From temple hopping and dolphin spotting to visiting the notorious Killing Fields, our time in the country was full of activities and we fell in love with the people who treated us like true Cambodian brothers and sisters. Despite the tragic recent history and poverty in Cambodia we were surprised at how expensive it was to get from one place to another and to see Angkor Wat; here are our Cambodia travel costs for four weeks.
The people we met and the things we learnt in Cambodia really touched my heart. In particular I’ll never forget our visit to the spectacular Angkor Wat or how it felt to walk through the Killing Fields, haunted by the thousands of people who died there. I found visiting Cambodia a deeply emotional experience and despite the scars of poverty and genocide my lasting memories of the country are of the peace, kindness and resilience of the Khmer people.
Kratie is a small town perched on the banks of the Mekong River about seven hours north of Phnom Penh (10 hours if your bus breaks down); this was our last stop in Cambodia before we headed back into Laos. There’s a sprinkling of guesthouses and restaurants in Kratie, although the food isn’t anywhere near as good as in the other Cambodian towns we visited and there’s also a market complete with pyjama-clad women selling their various wares. What we were really in town for though was the chance to spot some rare Irrawaddy river dolphins.
There’s much more to Siem Reap than Angkor Wat, on our second and third days of temple hopping we explored the Big Circuit and Roluos Group – here’s how it went and some tips on how to make the most of your temple experience in Siem Reap.
Some people come to Cambodia for one reason only – to see the largest religious monument in the world: Angkor Wat. As it turned out, we found plenty more to love about Cambodia during our trip across the country, but still, we expected temple hopping around Siem Reap to be the grand highlight of our time in the country. So, was visiting Angkor Wat all we thought it would be?
One of the hardest things about visiting Cambodia is witnessing the extreme levels of poverty that abound; from kids selling postcards at Angkor Wat to land-mine victims begging on the city streets. One of the best ways to help people in Cambodia is by eating in Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) restaurants which support and employ vulnerable groups of people throughout the country. Good Cause Dining is an all round win-win, your money and custom go to those who need it and you get a tasty meal in the process.