Although I have just returned from Australia, I’ve already decided where I’m traveling to next in order to celebrate my birthday; the historic and tropical areas of Cambodia! I chose Cambodia as my next destination because it has a similar climate and activities as Vietnam and Thailand, which were two of my favorite vacations because of their laidback beaches and inexpensive lodging. I will be staying in Cambodia for a total of 10 days, though 2 of them will be travel-heavy due to layovers. I will be bringing my Nintendo Switch and playing Fire Emblem to keep me occupied during these times.
I am most excited to try the local cuisine, explore the famous Angkor Wat temples, and even volunteer to be a bear keeper for a day! I will also be flying to the tropical island known as Koh Rong to soak up some sun and party on the beach. Then I will be flying to the capital to learn about the sad history of the killing fields and visiting the memorial. I hope to keep a good balance of exploring and taking part in cultural events here to make the most of my experience.
My planned itinerary (so far) is listed below:
Tokyo → Siem Reap → Angkor Wat → Tonle Sap Village → Siranhoukville → Koh Rong → Koh Rong Samloem → Phnom Penh → Killing Fields → Siem Reap ↺ Tokyo
Oct 1st: Arriving to Siem Reap
Siem Reap is the cheapest city to fly to from Tokyo, so I booked a $450 flight through Vietnam Airlines from Narita Airport. This is a discounted flight that includes a 3 hour layover in Vietnam, but from my experience, this time usually goes by quickly (especially if you pregame in the airport). Since it is my birth week, I will not be holding back on indulging.
Once arriving to Siem Reap, I plan on hitting Pub Street and trying the infamous happy pizza. I will be posting my own review to let everyone know about my experience. I have extremely high expectations for it, but even if it’s not “happy”, there are tons of other restaurants and bars around to explore. I definitely want to try the bar Angkor What? not only because of its hilarious name, but also because I will be visiting the historic Angkor Wat (temple) the next day. If there’s time, I plan on visiting the Old Market too.
I will be staying in a private room at the Jasmin Hotel for less than $20 a night. I chose this hotel because it is close to the center of the city and has a pool, so I am excited to go swimming here since it was too cold to during my Australia. I already know this is going to be an awesome trip!
Oct 2nd: Exploring the Angkor Wat Temples
This will be a travel-heavy day as I explore the most famous temples on a sunset tour I booked from GetYourGuide. This tour is highly rated and only costs $19 to go with a group of people, so that will give me a good opportunity to meet fellow backpackers. We will be heading deep in the jungle to see the main Angkor Wat temple, and also trekking to the other aesthetic Buddhist temples around it. The tour last for 10 hours, but I am more than ready to go hiking again! I think it will feel like going through ruins in a videogame, which makes me feel a little like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider.
Oct 3rd: Sailing through the Floating Tonle Sap Village
In the morning I plan on waking up early and jogging through the city to see the famous Preah Ang Chek & Preah Ang Chorm temples. I also want to try some street food and familiarize myself with more of the local shops and parks. Maybe even do a little souvenir hunting too.
In the afternoon, I booked another cheap tour from GetYourGuide to see the the floating village on the Tonle Sap lake. This is a fishing village that is similar to Ine that I visited in Kyoto, and looks very relaxing and interesting to see. I love being out on the water and feeling the wind in my hair!
Once the day comes to an end, I will be taking an overnight bus from Siem Reap to Siranhoukville that I booked through 12goAsia for $25. Though this is a 10 hour trip, it’s way more cheap than flying, and I really want to experience it at least once. The reviews on the website are quite mixed, but I had a pleasant time riding buses in both Malaysia and Singapore so I think I will be okay on this trip. It will be an adventure, at the very least!
Oct 4th – 7th: Partying at Koh Rong
From Siranhoukville, I will be taking the very first ferry to Koh Rong so I can begin relaxing and partying on the beach! I booked a single room at Treehouse Bungalows right near Police Beach where all of the parties take place. My room is less than $30 per night and is in a real treehouse! I am so excited to take pictures and see the beautiful view of the oceanfront. There are many bars and hostels around the area, so it’s extremely easy to make friends on this island. I have been to the Fullmoon Party in Thailand before, so I already know what to expect here.
I also plan on sailing to Koh Rong Samloem, which is another beautiful and more private island that is easy to get to by longboat. It has the gorgeous Saracen Bay to explore as well as a variety of other nightlife options. I might also attempt a jungle trek to Long Beach on the main island if I have enough energy. Basically I’m just going with the flow to see where life takes me!
October 8th: Visiting the Killing Fields
To reach the capitol city of Cambodia; Phnom Penh, I will be taking another inexpensive bus from Siranhoukville that I booked through 12goAsia. This trip will only be 6.5 hours, and I’m sure I will be tired from my island adventure so I won’t mind the travel time.
Once I arrive, I will be going on the Killing Fields tour I booked through GetYourGuide. I do not know much about the horrors of the Khmer Rouge Regime, but I do know it is a tragic part of the history of this country and I would like to learn more about it so I can write a proper article.
During my stay in Phnom Penh, I will be staying at a place with the hilarious name of Lovely Jubbly Villa. Once again, this is a conveniently located accommodation with a beautiful pool, so I had to book it. I expect to have a “lovely” time here!
October 9th: Freeing the Bears
As I have said before in my previous blog entries; whenever I travel to a new country I like to volunteer with animals. I have been accepted to the Free the Bears Bear Keeper Program, and am excited to help rare species of bears in Cambodia! This program also has other locations in Thailand and Vietnam.
While being a bear keeper, I will be preparing food for the bears, cleaning their habitat, and grooming the ones that are friendly. I am always happy to contribute to the well-being of endangered animals, as I am lucky to have a lot of things in my life already. I hope to look for more programs like this in the future if it goes well!
October 10th: Exploring the rest of Phnom Penh
Before taking my late night flight home, I plan on exploring the city of Phnom Penh and see all that it has to offer. Some of the places I’m interested in seeing are: The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, National Museum of Cambodia, Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh Night Market, The Russian Market, and of course experiencing the night life.
At the end of the day, I will have to fly from here back to Siem Reap, where I will take my overnight flight to Tokyo. I hope to sleep well after all of this travel!
October 11th: My Birthday
For the last few years of my life, I have always spent the day of my birthday on tropical islands, but this time I really want to spend it with my friends in Tokyo. I am leaving this day open for spontaneous shenanigans to ensue, but I know for sure that on October 12th I will be going to a footwork party called Battle Train Tokyo CLIMAX in Ebisu! My favorite underground DJ Carpainter is playing, and I know that it will be an awesome event.
I am extremely excited to turn 26 this year because each year that passes I am able to experience more of the world and learn more things about myself. Overall I will always feel very young at heart and still plan on traveling as much as I can!