Things I learned from my 23 days of solo-trip in Cambodia




Since I had an obligation to leave Thailand before my visa would expire, the magnificent view of Angkor Archaeological Site was a quite eye-catching option for me. Soon after, I made my plan clear, I couldn’t help daydreaming about my trip to the land of the Khmer. At first, making an online search about crossing the (Thai-Cambodia) border by bus and reading about some other tips in the country, gave me a bit stress. Because it always does when you hear, or read other people’s comments or experiences but your own. However, once I reached the border and later, it turned out to be something more than I imagined and also expected. Cambodia, from the beginning to the end, was a turning point experience for me. I couldn’t have learn or discover more about myself and the world around me if I hadn’t choose to make this solo trip.

Mochit Bus Station,Bangkok. Ticket Booth for Cambodia border, Siem Reap and Capital city Phnom Penh.  19th December 2015

Mochit Bus Station,Bangkok. Ticket Booth for Cambodia border, Siem Reap and Capital city Phnom Penh. 19th December 2015

* Not everything sounds as hard as it is.

I’ve learned that no matter how difficult the conditions seem, talked about or the road may seem challenging, I am the only one who will experience it herself and then decide what’s best to do. We are living in a world where the mainstream media pushes everyone into a chaos and terrorizes the masses in the name of controlling them. Therefore at this very point, traveling is of capital importance to see the difference between the real world and the world that was dictated to us from birth. In my case, of all the comments written on the internet about a simple crossing through a border, was made as a huge thing. Not only that, warnings about scams, swindlers or snatchers etc made me have a negative impression about the country, even before going there. With all the things in my mind, I checked things via internet, I had a very smooth cross to Cambodia side and  asked myself “Why did i worry that much?”. Bad things might happen anywhere at anytime and they happen already. On the other hand, limiting myself or having some (negative) thoughts of what might go wrong, will not help anything but ruin my joy and the only chance of enjoying the moment at a very different country, for the first time. I do already keep an understanding of being humble, which also helps me when traveling. I’m just being a simple person who is curious to discover and learn: one hat, one rucksack and a map in my hand.

Poipet Border Gate, Cambodia.

Poipet Border Gate, Cambodia.

*Not making any plans feels awesome

After a couple of attempts of soul-sucking work experiences, I minimalised  canceled out of all the formal occasions or any other official job opportunities inside of the concrete walls. Therefore I’m not a person who is into planning everything or keeping steady schedules, yet in Cambodia I enjoyed the power of going with the flow once more. The only plan I made was my route, other than that I let myself move spontaneously and didn’t regret or complain at all.

Sihanoukville, Southern Cambodia

Sihanoukville, Southern Cambodia

* I began enjoying myself more

I can’t help saying how the society pressures on us and how it tries to shape us even if we don’t want that. I see that even more when talking to different (young) people from all around the world. I’m not the only one who is aware of this situation. Dear Society, please leave us alone, we don’t want to be like the other half  quarter (or even more) of the population that you are dying to make everyone look the same. We just don’t want that and it is fine. Traveling on the other hand may cause one to have their breaking point. Once you are out of your box, when you can see everything clearly, getting to know other cultures, various life styles or simply eating different than what you’d had until then, it may be quite difficult to go back to the times that you were grown up. Having all these thoughts in my mind, I realized that I have no responsibilities (to anyone or anything) so, why to put myself into a situation which I will be complaining about or regretting it later? I appreciate the life I have, I love what I do, I want to do more things I enjoy, I want to discover more, I want to keep being curious all the time and I guess that’s the one way to the happiness. 

Cheers! When you start enjoying being on your own, loving your own company, like a bulletproof glass, you turn into a society-proof person :)

Cheers! When you start enjoying being on your own, loving your own company, like a bulletproof glass, you turn into a society-proof person 🙂

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

*Solo trip means solo decision

There are many kinds of true happiness on this earth. according to millions of souls and ”sharing” is one of them. Sharing, seeing the colorful sky of the sunset, listening to music, eating, watching nice movies or many other simple things that you do together with your beloved ones are indescribable joys of life.  However. individuality has become another true happiness to me. When you travel alone, as there is no one else in charge of your steps, you organically decide for yourself or even not decide 🙂  and it feels so great! You are totally free about where to go, what to do, when to do or with whom to do. There are like millions of possibilities for every action and even thinking about it makes me more excited.

"Garuda" protector of the Lord Vishnu. Angkorian Style. 1st half of the 10th century. Phnom Penh National Museum.

“Garuda” protector of the Lord Vishnu. Angkorian Style. 1st half of the 10th century. Phnom Penh National Museum.

* Nothing can buy me the happiness of achieving the joy of “simply being there”.

I’m not going to lie, people who know me know very well that I had an obsession of having magnets from everywhere I go and postcards and even shot glass ( I don’t even drink that much ). Well, somehow that changed a bit. I came to understand that I’m already getting from the view what i should get. Why i had/have to buy some more stuff as if  proving  the “I was there”. I already take hundreds of photos which is pretty enough, so suddenly I gave up buying those magnets and shot glass and other unnecessary souvenirs and I felt more free and even lighter. Thinking about how much I already spent on those cheaply made products by slave labor, which is another consumption frenzy, I could have literally traveled to one or two more countries. By the way, I didn’t give up on postcards. Writing a postcard and having a stamp on it and going to a post office knowing that it will give a smile on friends’ faces, is a wonderful feeling that nothing can buy me.

even the latest technology will not give the satisfaction of sending/getting a postcard to/ from a friend :)

even the latest technology will not give the satisfaction of sending/getting a postcard to/ from a friend 🙂

* I need less materials than i think for the road and for the living.

Yes! Objects are burden, yet we keep having more of them. There might be people who may have difficulty of understanding the necessities of traveling, or even the living itself, but that’s another deep discussion for another time. For the moment I would just like to mention that I discovered the lightness of having less materials (both when traveling and living). Traveling around countries in the hot season gives you the chance to carry only a few pair of shorts and t-shirts. Plus you carry less and you get tired less. Even if you travel to colder places, as long as you have clean clothes to wear, less is still the best.  In my case, I will surely bring new restrictions on my expenses so that I will be able to travel more.

The facilities have everything you need. you don't need to take anything extra. In the photo, enjoying the night view at the night bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap

The facilities have everything you need. you don’t need to take anything extra. In the photo, enjoying the night view at the night bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap

*Every experience is unique.

As years pass by, I found myself running away from the crowds and withdrawing into my shell, I enjoy simple things in peace and quiet. When it comes to traveling, surely there are must-see places that you can not skip and I totally agree with that. However, Cambodia for me was a complete experience of peace, where there was mostly silence, nature and the chants of the monks. Except for overcrowded Angkor Archaeological Site of Siem Reap city and the capital Phnom Penh, I still could find unfrequented places to relax, think and spend time on my own which helped me discover more things about my potential.  I came to a notice that away from the people, I can think more clear and this also gives me a bigger chance to meet travelers like me, who also prefer uncrowded places.

With the rent-a-bike, I ended up visiting breathtaking places where there is no one. This photo was taken by the Sangkae River, Wat-Kor Village, Battambang city.

With the rent-a-bike, I ended up visiting breathtaking places where there is no one. This photo was taken by the Sangkae River, Wat-Kor Village, Battambang city.

* I pay more attention to what’s around me

When you have an ultimate inner silence and focus, you happen to pay more attention to the things around you. South east Asia is known for its nature and wildlife. Whenever there is silence, it was inevitable not to hear the crawling of a lizard or the bird songs of the kinds I didn’t ever see before. Even in the city, I could see the squirrels hopping around the electric poles or at the roof of the houses. I don’t even mention about the geckos, (like in Thailand) they were everywhere and they were so cute.When I listen to the nature, I realize everything has its order and flow, and all I have to do is just admire it and nothing else. Therefore I didn’t ride any elephant or had a photo with a numb tiger inside the cage etc, because I always had a belief that making money/profit out of animals is such an unethical gain way, but seeing that there were still many people who aren’t aware of that made me somehow upset.

Bats don't live only in the deep, dark caves but also in the daylight at a public park. Siem Reap

Bats don’t live only in the deep, dark caves but also in the daylight at a public park. Siem Reap

* Traveling solo made me more open to give, share and appreciate.

Knowing that everyone has their own interests, hobbies and tastes, I always followed my passion for archaeology and history and art, regardless demanding people to join me. Not everyone may like what you like or may enjoy what you enjoy which I came to understand in recent years. That’s why when I’m about to hit the road, I can’t help thinking how many more people I will meet, who are just like me, who love talking about art, history, ancient civilizations, rocks ( to most of the people 🙂 ) Murakami novels, self-enlightenment or even outer space, galaxies, cats and many more. Yet, not also experiencing the similarities, I happened to compromising the differences as well. You happen to learn more if only you open yourself, to get in from what and who is different than you. Life isn’t supposed to be spent at a certain level. When I destroyed all my bricks ( I didn’t even understand why I had them), when I opened myself to every possibility, I felt stronger and happier. Breaking my walls around me, I was absorbing everything around me like a sponge. I kind of began accepting everything as they are, seeing people as they are, enjoying the moment by being there and not personalizing anything at all, it gave me a better understanding of everything that surrounds me. Spending just a few minutes with someone who is totally different than me may not ( or may)  make us life time friends, but can teach me a lot.

In addition to that, traveling solo gave me the chance to evaluate every possibility I wrote about earlier. My hesitations broke and I began asking ” Why not?”. Why wouldn’t I? What keeps me from doing this or that? What do I wait for? etc. I decided to make use of any opportunity that comes to me. Just when I started to think in this way, mystic powers of the universe sent me a gift and I found myself spending time with children whom I met when I was randomly cycling around. They were studying English, so I gave them a hand and also drew art together on a rainy Friday afternoon. I will never forget the children I interacted with in Cambodia, children who have very big hearts and are smart and loving that our memories embedded in me.

* I became more conscious to take more action about what is wrong

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Einstein quoted. The reason I’m writing this is that I feel guilty when I think of all the people who are in pain, need of help, who can not do anything to get out the situation they are in. Human trafficking is really widespread around South East Asian countries. When it comes to economically weak countries, everyone is talking about how cheap it is for tourists to eat, to accommodate or even other touristic activities. On the other hand, behind this advantageous situations for travelers, there lie also another realities: sex slaves, child slaves, children who are forced to have sex as their parents are paid. These victims are the result of thoughtless, selfish people mostly who come from the wealthy, developed countries in the name of having holiday, or just simply as it called ”fun”. When you have fun, if that term is giving pain or harm to another human-being, it is not fun at all. It is ”crime” and it should be revealed and punished. As long as wrongs are kept hidden, even if want to change them, nothing will happen. When I saw old, but really old men holding hands to very young girls, it broke my heart. You may think “give and take” but it’s not working like that. We are living in an era where everyone is sharing their private lives on the social media, every step we take is posted online instantly. Yet we are afraid to talk what is real and out there utterly obvious??? For centuries violence was normalized as it is nowadays, and this is also another deep discussion that may take days to analyze it with all the causes and effects. For me, what I saw, heard and witnessed, when I was in Cambodia (also in Thailand), I felt more people and organizations should be more aware and work on human trafficking issue, to fix the situation and be the voice of the ones who cannot raise their voices.

All in all, my solo trip to Cambodia was a great experience from A to Z. I had some real steps for my own human revolution and I’m so sure that I’m going to see the effects more in the coming days.





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