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Cambodian Delights

Dearest Readers,

I apologize for my delayed writings. Immediately after our Christmas celebrations, I jumped on a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to take in the history, the sights, and of course the sun. The next few entries were written while I was backpacking alone throughout the country. Enjoy reading about my trips to Angkor Wat, experimenting with local street food, and learning about the unbelievable Cambodian history.

Love,

Martha

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Just how the little geckos are attracted to the neon signs at night and cling onto the buzzing warmth, the crowds of Westerns in Siem Reap flow into the streets during happy hour and cling onto their chilled mugs of cheap beer. The contagious buzz from the night market is hard to resist. My first day in Siem Reap allowed my to take a deep breath in and let the relaxing atmosphere soak in while sitting at the Banana Leaf Restaurant.

As I broke into the fried egg that laid peacefully on the bed of chicken fried rice and flowed over the tin plate, I began to think of the reasons why I came to Cambodia. Not only that, but also began to think about how I have arrived at this place in my life; the place where I am able to work up enough courage to travel by myself to an unknown land. Many people were worried about my safety throughout my ten day journey. Granted, anything can happen, even on the back roads of Door County. Yet, I made sure that I went through my personal solo traveler check list to make sure that I was as safe as possible, but still letting loose and dancing in the streets.

Tips for the Solo Traveler

1. Challenge yourself every day while you are on your adventure. Sign up for an all-day tour or try saying thank you in the native language.

2. Learn about the country’s history. Basically, try to remember what our fourth grade teachers would say to us before we hopped on the bus, “Do your homework.” It helps to understand the background of the country and its people before diving in and accidentally making assumptions.

3. Take care of yourself. Yes, I did say before that the Angkor Beer in Siem Reap was cold, on tap, and only 50 cents, but when traveling alone, I always keep myself in check.

4. When asked to dance, take their hand and dance! I thought that I was going to have a low-key night in Phnom Penh until I heard salsa music blaring out of the windows next door. I checked my shoes and they looked perfect for a night of salsa dancing. Standing alone near the dance floor can sometimes be nerve racking, but once I was asked to dance, even for one song, I couldn’t stop smiling.

5. Give yourself a pat on the back every night before going to bed. Even if you just roamed around the market square for the entire afternoon, it still takes a lot of courage to step out of your comfort zone and enjoy the life around you.

6. Turn off those electronics! I doubt the latest Lady Gaga album on your iPod sounds better than the electric street sounds that hum and buzz through your soul.

7. Tell your story and learn from others around you. Yes, there are some crazy people out there who many only swear by wearing coconut bras and glow sticks and pray every day to Snuffaluffagus from Sesame Street, but listen to them. At least after talking to them, you will have a good story to tell to your friends!