In the depths of dissertation stress, my boyfriend and I decided to book a holiday. I’d always wanted to go to Asia but having only 11 days free between us meant we were limited. For this reason, we decided to travel with GAdventures on their ‘Cambodia on a shoestring tour.’
Let me just start off with saying that it was probably the best holiday ever. Whilst travelling with a tour company was undoubtedly much pricier, due to our time constraints, it really made sense. Also, as this was a holiday, and not ‘travelling’ or ‘backpacking’, it was nice that everything was sorted for us and we could just relax!
We decided to arrive in Bangkok a day early, which led us to one of the most awe-inspiring places of our whole holiday, The Grand Palace. Whilst a pricey option at $20 plus travel, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Everywhere I turned was just another photo opportunity and my oh my what an introduction to our holiday! If you love anything colourful and shiny, you will love this place just as much as I did.
In Cambodia, we visited Siem Reap for a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat, followed by a tour of the Bayon temple and Ta Prohm. Whilst we weren’t fortunate enough for an actual sunrise, seeing Angkor Wat come alight with the day was really very special. Also, just seeing the monkeys run around made me feel like I was in jungle book and was probably one of the highlights. In the afternoon, we decided to split off from the optional organized tour activities (mostly to save money) and ended up visiting a silk farm. Whilst I appreciate this isn’t at the top of everyone’s ‘must see’ list, it was actually incredibly interesting, coupled with knowing that by going you were supporting this cooperative, I’m really glad we opted to go here instead.
Whilst we didn’t get to see much of Vietnam, what I did see made me want to go back. From the floating markets of the Mekong to seeing the very ingenious Cu Chi tunnels, Vietnam was very different to its neighboring Cambodia and I would love to see more!
It wasn’t all fun and games though and as with anything, there were a few lowlights. For example, I loved seeing all the projects GAdventures supports but sometimes it just felt a bit forced and disingenuous. As a geographer, I wonder how empowering these projects are when they’re so reliant on rich tourists taking a selfie with a local child. Obviously this is complicated territory and I am making generalisations (not everyone took a selfie), but on a positive note, I am happy that some of my money went to support local projects and while some aspects made me feel occasionally uneasy, I do appreciate that it’s better than nothing.
Obviously travelling on a tour like this isn’t for everybody, both in terms of cost and approach, but for us and the time we had, we really couldn’t have asked for anything more. We packed much more into our 11 days or so than I could possibly write about (but do let me know if you want to see another post on what else we got up to) and are left with some incredible memories.
Feel free to have a cheeky peek at my instagram for more travel snaps!