Strong, beautiful, and independent Julia and Denis have visited 6 countries in just six months. And today they talk about their independent trip to Cambodia. It is a less publicized country compared to Thailand. This is a country of contrasts, where sometimes goosebumps run from what you see. Let’s find out what exotic Cambodia is fraught with.
– Hello! Let’s get acquainted)
– Hello! My name is Julia. For several long years my husband and I dreamed of traveling, but work and study held us firmly in place. 2018 was a turning point, and the decision was made – we are flying. When the thought turned into a clear goal, we only had to settle a few everyday issues. And at the end of October we bought one way tickets. Since then, I have been able to visit popular tourist places: Vietnam, Thailand, Bali, and somewhat less advertised ones: Malaysia, South Korea, as well as those about which people have almost never heard of – a striking example of Cambodia.
– You travel so much. How do you manage to combine work and travel?
– Up to point X, I worked in a pharmacy as a pharmacist, so with my specialty, remote work did not work for me. Now I am learning to create websites and I have a travel blog on Instagram @doroga_v_leto.
– What impression did your vacation in Cambodia make on you?
– Cambodia is a country of contrasts. Now this is especially noticeable in the main resort town of Sihanoukville. At the moment, all of it is a solid construction site, because Chinese investors are building a huge number of casinos and hotels there for their fellow citizens.
But one has only to go outside the city – dirt and poverty are everywhere. In general, the country is very littered, the roads are almost everywhere in a deplorable state, and when you drive between cities, you often see the following picture: a dusty field, a ditch by the road, clogged with plastic, and very thin cows walk nearby.
But there are also pearls. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem islands near Sihanoukville are fabulous beaches with magical nature and clear water. A heavenly place! When I remember the island, my eyes probably light up with emotion!
Or the province of Kampot, a former French colony, a quiet town with beautiful architecture. And what kind of sunsets are there, you just rock …
– Is this an independent trip to Cambodia?
– Yes, the trip is completely independent, no tours and ready-made solutions. We are strong, we can do everything ourselves!
– Where did you buy tickets and where did you book the hotel?
– We always look for tickets through several aggregators, for example, skyscanner or aviasales. And then you can look at the airline’s website, sometimes it is a little cheaper there. By hotels: more often booking, or agoda, but not everything is so simple. As a rule, we book for 1-2 days, and then we look for ourselves. And booking for a longer time is risky, because the photos often do not coincide with reality, and there can be unpleasant surprises. For example, the absence of mosquito nets, or a construction site nearby, or something else. For example, in Kampot (Cambodia) we rented a room, and there was a strange smell in the room. And this was the last room, had to stay there overnight. In addition, often, if you look for a place to live and specify what you want to rent for a few days, people give a good discount. So we found a great option for only $ 8 per day.
– What to see in Cambodia?
- The Angkor temple complex is something incredible.
- Ancient temples, many of which are still perfectly preserved. When you walk between them and touch these ancient walls … wow, I got goosebumps.
- But Cambodia is not only Angkor, as many think. There, for example, there is a wonderful national park. This is a paradise for transport – a beautiful flat road without a single hole. And the visit is free, there is even a sign that all extortions are illegal. There is an ancient Catholic church there, and, most interestingly, it is active! And before there was a destroyed casino nearby, but by our arrival the nimble Khmers (the population of Cambodia) had restored it and made a hotel. It’s a pity of course.
- And also, the entire park is a continuous observation deck, because it is located in the mountains, a whole kilometer above sea level. So the views of the jungle in front of you are breathtaking.
- Go ahead what to see in Cambodia. And also the islands … Half an hour from Sihanoukville by high-speed ferry for $ 20 (round trip) and you are in the bounty. For example, how would you like 5 kilometers of white, deserted beach with crystal waters? And the sand there is so unusual, I have never seen this anywhere else, you walk on it – and it crunches! Like styrofoam. Or like fresh snow.
– Is Cambodia really a budget country?
– I think you can relax there with any wallet size. For example, we are budget travelers.
Here are the approximate prices in Cambodia (2019):
- simple room with air conditioning – $ 7-14 (more expensive in Sihanouk)
- a jar of coffee in the store – $ 0.5
- kilogram of mango – $ 1-1.5
- lunch of rice, eggs and pork – $ 1-1.5 at a local cafe
- delicious pumpkin soup with garlic baguette in a tourist cafe – $ 2.5
- bus Sihanoukville-Kampot – $ 8
- bike rental – $ 5 per day
As you can see, prices don’t bite at all.
– What are the best beaches in Cambodia in your opinion?
– There you can count them all on your fingers! The islands are beyond competition for me, of course.
- There is a beach in Cambodia in Sihanoukville itself – gentle, with white sand, but the water is not transparent, and the background noise in the form of a construction site spoils everything.
- A beach in Kepe, a small town near Kampot. It is artificial, made of imported sand, very tiny. The entrance to the sea is very long, to get to the depth you need to stomp for a long time. And the water is cloudy.
– What local cuisine would you recommend to try in Cambodia?
– Oh, I advise you to try grilled cockroaches and meat with ants! Joke! But as they say, there is some truth in every joke. And it won’t be difficult to find fried insects in food markets, but we’re talking about national cuisine. So, there are several popular dishes that seem to be simple, but so delicious.
- Plain rice with pork. What’s not interesting? But listen, it’s not that simple! The thinnest slices of pork are first slightly marinated in a spicy-sweet mixture of spices, and then browned on slowly smoldering coals … The cooked meat is carefully placed with rice, adding a couple of sprigs of herbs and a circle of cucumber for company. Appetizing, huh?
- Or a more unusual dish in Cambodia – amok. This is meat or fish stewed until delicious softness in coconut milk, seasoned with spices and vegetables. If you are lucky with the place where you decide to dine amok, then it is likely that it will be served in a very unusual plate – in a coconut.
- And last but not least – Lok Lak. It can also be poultry, fish, or meat cooked in a traditional pepper sauce. The pepper, by the way, is used green, from the city of Kampot.
– And what about the fruit, the same as in Thailand?
– You will definitely not be left without fruit in Cambodia! The choice is huge, especially if you know the places. We found a local market in Kampot. This is a real food paradise. And the prices are so pleased. Mango, Baltic herring, watermelon, melon, durian, jackfruit, and more. It even seems to me that Cambodia has more fruit selection than Thailand.
– Did you take out insurance for your vacation? And do you need any vaccinations?
– No vaccinations required. Insurance was issued to Cambodia. I think that going on a trip without her is very risky. Medicine is expensive for tourists, and if something serious happens, the treatment can be too expensive. Throughout the history of travel, we have contacted the insurance 2 times. The first time, the cost of treatment covered several times the price we paid for the policy. Yes, and I read that many people paid thousands of dollars in the hospital from their own pockets, as they regretted several thousand rubles for insurance.
– What do traveling give you?
– Impression. Emotions. Memory. An impetus for self-development. It is impossible to describe in words, you just understand how great the world is. How much is unknown in it, you feel as if you are the first person on the moon. Each step is a new universe! Travels fill us to the brim with the magical elixir of life. And I want more and more … And people! They, it turns out, are all so different. With its own traditions, statutes, culture, with its own way of life and language. And through the journey, you can touch each nation alive, see how their day goes, how they live, and what they feel.
– Your life hacks for traveling to Cambodia.
– Hmm … life hacks.
- First and foremost, don’t be afraid of the country. Be open and friendly with the local people and get genuine responsiveness in return.
- Do not swear or insult anyone. Remember that you are a white person and you probably will never become your own.
- Observe reasonable precautions, do not shine in the evening with money and technology, and then your vacation in Cambodia will pass without unnecessary adventures.
- If something in the market has sunk into your soul, in no case show it. Haggle for a new piece of adoration, be it a pound of mangoes, an Angkor Wat painting, or a portable rice cooker. Khmers love to bargain, and the price tag for a tourist is sometimes twisted two or three times.
- In hotels, feel free to ask for a discount for a few days of stay.
- Learn basic phrases in the local language. The locals will be very pleased if you greet them with familiar words. And it is not far from pleasant surprise to pleasant discounts!
- And finally. Remember that Cambodians are quite lazy and relaxed, they can take you completely to the wrong place. I advise you to track all movements yourself, remind drivers of yourself, and have a backup plan of action for any case. And then, due to the carelessness of one driver, one day there was an insanely stressful move, which almost cost us a delay in visa and a paid hotel.
If you are interested, there is a whole story on Instagram about this using the hashtag #roadsummer_reveal
Interviewed by Olga Avrakh