Cambodia: Mishaps and Lessons Learned

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Let me pay for your meal.” the Canadian guy from the next table nicely offered when he heard the discussion I was having with the restaurant Manager.


They refused to accept my 50USD because I folded it. That’s my last dollar as I will fly back to Malaysia after lunch.” I replied almost shrinking.


Thank you. I will just use my card.” I tried to refuse.


It isn’t so expensive and international charge will be higher if you use your card.” he shrugged and gave the money to the manager. Danica, Never fold notes again! Or was I scammed?  


Thank you so much. If I’m not leaving now I would have offered to buy you coffee in return. Here, few Ringgits as souvenir.” I extended my arm to give him the bills and what was left of my Cambodian Riels. “I really need to leave now. Thank you so much. May the Lord always guide you and safe travels.” I continued and left like how they do it in the movies.


As I trudged my way out of the restaurant, I was wondering how I will pay for the Tuktuk ride back to the hotel. I only have some few crumpled Riels I intended to keep as souvenir for this trip and in case that the Tuktuk driver will accept my 50 US Dollars, will he have change? I need to catch a flight back to Malaysia. I have maybe less than an hour to pack before boarding. I can’t miss my flight. I should be working by the next day.

My brain was fuzzy and I am overthinking as I am about to wave to a Tuktuk driver waiting nearby.


Do you need a lift?” The Canadian was exiting out of the restaurant with an amused and warm smile.


Oh. No. I will take the Tuktuk.” Of course I needed a lift. I just couldn’t abuse his kindness was what I was thinking. Actually, more of pride.


Oh. Okay. Because I am headed home and maybe your hotel is on my way. I can give you a lift. Because how will you pay? I’m sure the driver doesn’t have the little machine to swipe your card.” Did he wink? Oh no! I am not travel romancing I told myself.

Hop in! My motorbike has still room for one.” He said and I couldn’t say that I might have a heart attack while on the motorbike but there is no time for this drama. I need to catch my plane and this is the fastest way. I didn’t think so much about the dress I was wearing and hopped on. Normally I will wonder where I will be holding but I immediately held on to his shoulders. Nope. I didn’t fantasize so much, just a little. On our way to the hotel and in between traffic, I learned that he is a teacher. He teaches Math and said that the pay wasn’t so much but it isn’t the point. I get what he means of course.


I said yes to this job offer in Malaysia even if my salary was already good in the Philippines. Money is not the point and will never be the point.


If we were flirting, it was really challenging. I can’t flirt shouting. I need to at least be lady-like. I didn’t have to tell him twice about the location of my hotel. It was also good that I remembered the street name. When we reached the street where my hotel was, he said that a colleague lives across the street. That explained why he knows the place so much not to mention the fact that he is an expat. 


I gave him the helmet as I hopped off his bike, said thanks quite a number of times mimicking my Japanese friend and walked back to the hotel. I have a flight back to Malaysia to catch and I still needed to pack. Overpack, I mean. 



I am the lousiest traveler I know. I just book flight, over pack and go. No over researching. No long planning. I just bring open mind and free spirit then I’m all set to go. No hassle, no drama, hence, perfect for a budding , solo traveler ADHD me. I’m confident that no matter how hard something is, I will figure it out.

I went to Cambodia having only Angkor Wat in mind to see. After all, I only have four days. I got the flight, 4 days and 3 nights with breakfast, hotel accommodation and airport transfers for 389 MYR (Malaysian Ringgits) (+16MYR debit card charge) or 91 USD. Air Asia Go is heart. I am just so lucky when it comes to promotions and deals and I know I just can’t let them pass no matter how broke I will be after that. I can’t give tips on how to become a frugal traveler because budgeting is not my forte. All I know is that I have enough therefore I’m fine. There are free drinks, coffee and biscuits in the office so I know I will not starve and we have swimming pool in the condo so I will not get bored. I don’t need much too.

Looking at all the pictures I took, I was like, what did I do? Crappy selfies are all I have. I wasn’t even able to capture a nice sunrise photo. I was too busy admiring and climbing the temples and was too caught up by the moment that I forgot I was holding a camera and a phone. Good thing though. I will not be able to say that it was a good trip if I will give a verdict based on those pictures. Because I remember, the moment I arrived at the hostel and saw bicycles, I hurriedly brought my bag to the room and even if I was still wearing a dress, I rented one right away and started pedaling my way to the unknown streets of Siem Reap not caring about the extremely hot weather and the worried look on the Tuktuk driver’s face. Suddenly I was not scared. As if I have known the place for a long time. As if I belong there.

I pedaled my way across and along unfamiliar Siem Reap roads. I turned and turned and smiled at strangers to their amusement and laughed loudly when I can’t remember the way back to the hostel. My soul knows the way. My heart was filled by immeasurable joy. It was bliss I never expected I will feel going solo. Thailand was practice, Cambodia was the test.


Before my trip, a friend already gave me a contact number of a Tuktuk driver she knows but airport transfers were included in this hotel and flight deal I booked so upon seeing the Tuktuk driver who picked me up from the airport, I said I will just hire him too. Normal price is $15 a day but I was able to get mine for $10 because I haggled like a maniac and he couldn’t speak English well. This worked well for me because I was able to really have my own experience of the city without anybody‘s biased opinion.


I was able to use my own senses. I took my time admiring everything I will lay my eyes on. Facts and all the other information can be googled anyway. I still can say I was on my own. I ended up tipping Mar, the tuktuk driver, $5 because he was such a sweetheart.


A friend already told me about the Tourist Pass but I still flinched when I was told that it costs $40 for 3 days and wanted to cry when on our way to Angkor Wat to witness the famous sunrise on my last day that it was missing. My jaw almost locked as I reluctantly handed another crisp 20USD bill only to find out later that my 3-day pass was stuck inside my crumpled scarf. Why did I have to bring a fooking scarf in Cambodia where the weather almost got me killed after climbing temples after temples under the biting heat of the sun? Danica!!!


Well, some lessons needed to be learned in the hardest way.


The first night I tried the night life. I went to the Night Market and Pub Street to try the night life and Khmer dishes and of course, beer. I travel for beers.





I saved Angkor Wat on my third day.


Mar called to wake me up at 4:30 am so I can catch the famous sunrise. It was worth the very early wake up call. I didn’t just feel like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider I also witnessed one of the most magnificent creations I have ever seen and nothing can replace that feeling. Not Prada. Not even LV.


I don’t have photos of this famous sunrise. 

Mar brought me to see the other temples after Angkor Wat.

We had lunch in one of the famous Khmer restaurants which I didn’t like because they have separate place for the drivers. It was so discriminating . I can’t even begin how I will describe the happiness I saw in Mar’s face when he told the waiter that I am allowing him to join me for lunch. It was clearly the first time he will be able to eat inside that restaurant. It was a simple gesture but meant a lot for Mar. Maybe that’s what Santa Klaus feels whenever he will give gifts to kids. It was an addicting feeling; travel addicting feeling.




We went back to the hotel after lunch. It was so hot to wander outside too.

After a long good nap, I realized 2 days are actually enough to see Siem Reap. Not just Siem Reap but cities in general. I realized that if I am not going to the beach, 48 hours in a place is enough.


I felt I needed a break from all the temples so I consulted google and found Tonle Sap Lake. I decided to go to the floating village. $6 for return tuktuk trip and $30 for the ticket which I thought was a rip off.

Siem Reap


But when I saw what was in that village, my heart was shattered to pieces. Residents build houses there because they can’t afford a parcel of land to build a normal house on. There is also a school for orphans whose parents died fishing in that lake.


I realized how lucky I am. I am blessed because my parents, though struggling, gave in to all my whims. Even gave me things even I don’t need and I am still ungrateful.


My life flashed in front of me. That same day, I promised I will stop whining and will be more thankful for the littlest blessing I will receive. It is indeed true that traveling makes one richer. In my case, it gave me heart.


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Cambodia: Mishaps and Lessons Learned


Cambodia: Mishaps and Lessons Learned


Cambodia: Mishaps and Lessons Learned

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This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This is at no cost to you but helps me to provide awesome content regularly. Thanks for your support!


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