Hey everyone, this blog post has been a very long time coming considering that I went to Cambodia last September! However, a lot has gone on since then. I know I keep going on about how I’m going to write up my Cambodia blog posts however, I have just been really busy since I got back from Cambodia. I was hoping to get the blog posts up straight after I got back however I hadn’t anticipated how much time and energy an office move takes. The whole office move didn’t really calm down until the end of November and then we hit December which is always a busy time for everyone. I had planned to write them up over the Christmas break however, I was busy with family and friends and just put them on the back burner, to be honest.
Then I had planned to get them up in the first few weeks of the new year however, I’ve been really unwell since January 1st which has been a bit of a pain as it has meant that I had to stop doing a lot of things to recover fully. I am definitely a lot better than I was as I just got one thing after the other however, I’m still not 100% so I’m just taking it easy. My mum hasn’t been well either and actually ended up in the hospital with a kidney infection so that took up a lot of my physical and mental energy. I’m hoping that now we are both on the road to recovery that the rest of the year will be a lot more productive in terms of writing up blog posts and filming YouTube videos.
On to the actual blog post…
My Cambodia trip began back in May 2019 when I decided to take the big leap and book a tour group to South East Asia. I had no idea where in South East Asia I wanted to visit however, I just knew that I wanted to visit somewhere in Asia as I had loved visiting Hong Kong the year before. In the end, I chose Cambodia as I thought that it would be the perfect place to start due to the fact that Cambodia is still a developing country and isn’t as developed as Thailand or Vietnam. Therefore, I thought that it would be a really interesting experience for that reason.
You can find out more about the actual trip that I booked here, however, the trip was called “The Ultimate Cambodia Tour” which I booked through a UK company called Real Gap. I have always wanted to book a tour group ever since I read “The Lonely Hearts Travel Club” series which is all about tour travel groups. The books really made a tour sound like a lot of fun and also a great way to get out of your comfort zone (The trip certainly did this but I will tell you more about that in the upcoming blog posts). The trip itself was actually through Tru Travels which is a third party tour group company it does state that Real Gap does team up with other tour group companies sometimes. The trip with Real Gap was £649 in total however, this only included certain things. I am going to do a full blog post with all of the costs of my holiday and my tips and tricks for visiting Cambodia.
On Monday 16th September 2019 my adventure began as I headed to Heathrow airport with my Mum. We live quite close to Heathrow so we just took the tube which was really easy and also cost-effective. My flight was at 12:00 pm so we headed to the airport for 9:00 am so that we could grab breakfast first and then I could check-in with enough time before my flight. I am definitely one of those people who has to be early for flights because I would hate to miss it. After I got through security I was a bit emotional as I was going on this big adventure all alone without anyone I knew and it was quite overwhelming when I actually thought about it. I soon got over that as the buzz of the airport hit me and I started to feel really excited for the adventure ahead. I was flying out of Heathrow Terminal Two which is a really nice airport as it’s one of the newest terminals and had some great shops there. I bought a few essentials such as a charging converter, magazines, sweeties, drinks, crisps, and a pair of new sandals from my favourite place Kurt Geiger.
My flights from London to Cambodia and Cambodia back to London were just under £600 which I didn’t think was too bad. I decided to fly with Thai Airways as I had heard good things about them and they were quite reasonable. As Cambodia is a smaller country compared to Thailand or Vietnam there are no direct flights, therefore I had two flights each way one was slightly longer and then the other was just over an hour. My first flight was from Heathrow, London to Bangkok, Thailand which was around an 11-hour flight. I decided to pick an aisle seat as I always find it a bit awkward asking people I don’t know to move when I need to get up I’d rather be the one to move. I really like flying so travelling alone didn’t make a difference to me. If I can fly across the world to New Zealand which is around 30+ hours of travelling alone then I can easily travel 14 hours to Cambodia alone.
The first flight was fine, I didn’t have any issues I mainly watched films, slept, & ate. For my meal, I chose the pork stew which was okay it wasn’t the best but it is plane food after all. I left London around 12:30 pm UK time before landing in Bangkok at around 6:00 am the following day. I then had about an hour layover which wasn’t a lot of time at all considering the airport was HUGE. I just about had enough time to walk to the gate as I had to go through security again before I got through to the departure gates. My second flight was from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia this flight was just under two hours long and was on a smaller plane. Even though the flight wasn’t long at all the flight attendants gave everyone a snack and a drink which I was pretty surprised about as sometimes you don’t get anything on short-haul flights.
I landed in Siem Reap around 8:00 am the airport itself was really small but one of the most aesthetically pleasing airports from the outside I really loved the architecture of the buildings. Passport control was really quick to go through and as the airport was small not a lot of planes were landing at the same time so I got my bag quickly too. As part of your tour package, someone from the tour company is supposed to meet you at the airport. Our tour guide Hul met me at the airport where little did I know I was moments away from experiencing my first new thing of the trip. To get from the airport to the hostel we took a tuk-tuk which I have never ridden in before so it was quite the experience and a great way to kick the trip off. I have to admit it took me a little while to get used to the tuk tuk’s in Cambodia as I can sometimes get car sick here in the UK so I wasn’t sure how I would feel riding in a tuk tuk, however, the benefits of them are that they are mainly open so you get a lot of fresh air when you’re riding along.
The first hostel that we stayed at was the Pool Party Hostel in Siem Reap which was just outside of the centre of town. I really loved the look of the hostel as it was quite vibrant and had a nice feel to it. Normally with tour groups, you can get anywhere between 16-24 people in your group, however, because of the time of year, was the time when university students go back to school it meant that our tour group was a lot smaller than usual. Originally I was supposed to be the only one on the tour when I booked back in May and it was going to be just myself and the tour guide, however, as the months went on three other girls booked onto the tour group.
We arrived at the hostel around 9:00 am Cambodian time. I then checked in and my tour guide took me straight up to my room to get settled in. One of the girls in our tour group had already arrived so I was paired up with her to share a room. As soon as I got into the room I had a shower, changed into my PJs and had a nap as I was really jetlagged. I then got up a few hours later and changed into something cooler as Cambodia was quite humid due to it being the monsoon season also because I hadn’t adjusted to the heat just yet. Our hostel had a pool bar/restaurant where my roommate and I went to wait for the other two girls to arrive. While we were there, I ordered my first meal in Cambodia which was pancakes and a sprite, I knew that I wanted to ease into the food in Cambodia as I don’t have a strong stomach as it is but when you go to a new country it can take a while to adjust to the new food.
Once the other two girls had arrived we then headed into town to go for our first group dinner and to take a look around Pub Street! Pub Street is like the Soho of London as it’s where all the restaurants, bars, and night clubs are in Siem Reap. Pub Street was around a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride from our hostel which isn’t that far at all. We went to a restaurant which had Cambodian food but was also big on catering to western food as well. You will find that most of the restaurants in Cambodia serve western food and not a lot of authentic Cambodian food unless you choose from the Cambodian section of the menu or eat some of the street food. For my first dinner, I decided to go for some Cambodian noodles with some chicken, it was effectively a chicken stirfry with a Cambodian twist. The food wasn’t bad at all and the price was quite reasonable even though it was slightly above local prices due to it being a touristy restaurant.
After dinner, we had a walk around Pub Street to experience the nightlife and have a quick look at the night markets before me and one of the other girls headed back to the hostel via the supermarket. Whenever I’m abroad I always like to find a local supermarket to stock up on the essentials such as water for the room, crisps, and sweets. In Cambodia, you can’t drink any of the water from the taps therefore, always make sure to have bottles of water to brush your teeth with as well as drink. Once we got back to the hostel, we both said our goodnights and headed to our rooms to go to bed as it had been a long day of travel, meeting everyone, and adjusting to the timezone. I always forget how bad my body is at adjusting to different time zones I’m usually better when I come home as I’m in my comfort zone and I usually plan to go to work soon after I get back from holiday which helps with jetlag.
The first day of the trip was all about getting to know our tour guide and everyone else on the tour as well as getting settled in a new environment. Our tour guide Hul was really helpful throughout the tour and always answered any of the questions that we had. Hul was really supportive as well if we were feeling a bit homesick or out of place. I’ve also filmed my trip so at the end of each of these Cambodian blog posts I will be putting the video that relates to the day that I’m talking about. If you like my videos then please subscribe so that you can be notified when I upload a new video and give the video a thumbs up to show that you enjoyed it.