Cambodia & Thailand

Ban Phe, Thailand

This blog is the last one about our journey in Thailand and Cambodia. I am sure you will find a lot of inspiration in the book if you want to know more about our journey, and how to pack light and flexible. I am just about to publish a book about a journey in Bosnia, Croatia, and Venice. More blogs will follow about that journey, and much more.

After 12 wonderful days, it felt a bit sad to leave Cambodia. We would have loved to spend a week on the islands and beaches outside Koh Kong, but the school holiday was too short. Next time! But it was also a relief to cross the border to Thailand. Everything is easier in Thailand. The border crossing in Hat Lek is small, and there are no scams like in Aranyaprathet, except for the guy that quickly grabbed our bags, but he was so nice and helpful that we gladly paid him. Even though it is a bit tricky to travel in Cambodia, I strongly recommend you visit Angkor Wat, go zip lining over the jungle, swim in the amazing water, and visit some of the peaceful islands.

Not much went as planned on our way to our friends in Ban Phe. That things don't go as planned when traveling is though part of the experience! Our plan was to have lunch in Hat Lek, but we found nothing but a bus stop. When we arrived in Trat, where we had planned to check out the city, the bus station was too far from the city center. But on the other hand, the rain was pouring down, so it was a perfect day to spend on buses. Then our friends didn't find us in the darkness since the bus had left us by the motorway, and not as usually, in the village. But our luck had changed - the rain had stopped! So we took our backpacks and started walking until we manage to find each other. We gladly jumped on their motorbikes. The feeling when entering their beautiful house, and immediately going out for an excellent dinner is indescribable!

The last two days of our journey we spent with our social, and food interested friends. We ate loads of delicious local food, had fantastic drinks on their terrace, swam in the pool, had the best massage, ran into an old friend on the beach, and even went for shopping. Very different from the rest of the journey but the best journeys are those where we have the opportunity to do many different things during the journey. We summarize our journey as one of our best! Can't wait for the next trip to Asia.


Too exciting accommodation?


On our way back from Koh Ta Kiev we stopped for snorkeling and cliff jumping as a memorable farewell from paradise. Our friend Mickey saved us once again and quickly arranged tickets to another of his favorite islands, Koh Rong Samloem. Within 1,5 hours from landing ashore, we started our long walk along a new beautiful white beach to find shelter in this paradise! Luckily we had light backpacks. When we were just about to give up and stay in a tent, we found something that looked like a building site. No alarm bells got through our tired brains. A bungalow, with a terrace and sea view, and a shower for 25 USD! I must admit that the first night when an alarm woke us up at 4, and the second, very windy night when I was sure the house was falling to pieces, I was not so sure we had made the right choice, but I am still here! You can read the full story in the book.


It was a totally different island. It was not as friendly and quiet as Ko Ta Kiev. Time did not stop, but the beaches were even more beautiful, the water was crystal clear but too shallow for snorkeling, and we could take nice walks in the jungle. And we ran into some interesting people! A Russian bartender with a fur hat that turned out to be an unusual haircut. Two beer marinated Swedes that were sure they could borrow money from us to buy more beers. Plan your cash – there are no ATMs on the small islands. And we had nice tenants that ate all our less wanted visitors with a good appetite.

Unfortunately, we could not check out Koh Rong due to the strong wind. Our summary after having visited many countries and countless islands in South East Asia we are fans of the area and will return. We will try to visit the islands outside Koh Kong next time. After a too exciting evening walk in Sihanoukville, we headed towards our friends in Ban Phe, Thailand.



Leaving Phnom Penh without looking back! We met a nice German couple on the bus to Sihanoukville, and since we had no place to stay, we went with them to Otres where they had booked a bungalow in the middle of nowhere. The staff suffered from a hangover and had skipped work, so the place was empty. Not really – I forgot to mention the mosquitos. Luckily, we had, by mistake, overpaid our driver, a perfect mistake since he had to search most of Otres to find any vacancies. We forgot all of that when we sat on the white sandy beach, swam in the fantastic water, and strolled along the beach until we found Mickey who took us to paradise by a small wooden boat! 


Time stopped when we arrived at Koh Ta Kiev. The sandy beach was long and white. The water was warm and crystal clear. The jungle was beautiful, and there were not many people on the island. We stayed in a large bungalow a few meters from the long, white, and almost empty beach. There was no running water or electricity on the island except during 4 hours in the evening, but we managed by having a well-planned packing, for example, a power bank to charge in the only power outlet available. It was a friendly, safe, and relaxed atmosphere on the island. We slept in a large bed on our terrace, in our lovely silk sheets, and enjoyed the quietness while the cows kept us company. 

Suddenly we heard loud singing in the night. We were sure the guests at Tree House had been smoking too much. We had noted we could buy readymade joints in the bar, so we decided to use the headset as earplugs and sleep anyway. It turned out to be the Cambodian navy having training on the island that had been drinking too much Khmer Whiskey. 

The 3 days on the island went too fast while we walked, swam, and enjoyed our WI-FI fast. I hope you visit Koh Ta Kiev before the Chinese developers destroy this paradise. They have been planning for a while, but the island is still almost untouched. 


Tonlé Sap and Phnom Penh


We had planned a quiet and relaxing ride to the boat that would depart for Phnom Penh early in the morning. Firstly the hotel had not booked the tuk-tuk. Secondly, the driver was the oldest driver we had ever seen, and thirdly when we were relieved to be on our way we saw signs for the airport! I almost freaked out, shouted through all the noise on the highway and got the answer I did not want – we were heading towards the airport. Our pulse was about 190 when we passed our hotel again. This time with no margins what so ever! But worry and stress won’t make any difference, so we enjoyed the landscape and arrived at the boat in time. The driver had put the pedal to the metal!

The relaxing ride on Tonlé Sap, the largest sweet water lake in South East Asia, is far better than the bus and well worth the high price. In the floating villages, there are restaurants, pig farms and plenty more to see. What a contrast to the bustling city of Phnom Penh! We hurried past all drivers and headed by foot to our hotel to leave our bags and take off to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. We had chosen a hotel by the river, between the boat and the Palace, since we wanted to be able to enjoy this New Year’s Eve on foot.

What a night! Thousands of friendly locals were partying all around the city, live music, and such a nice atmosphere – as long as we stayed away from the dark alleys which are almost everywhere. Nightlife in Phnom Penh for a mother and her daughter is to be enjoyed at the markets and by the river. We decided that this city was not for us, so we took the bus to Sihanoukville the next morning. Peace and quiet, white sandy beaches and crystal clear water seemed more to our liking. But how did it turn out? More to follow and read the book if you want the whole story.  


Angkor Wat


What a feeling to wake up knowing that we were heading towards the temples! The ticket booth is not on the way to the temples, so plan for the detour. We hadn’t so we had an early morning. Off to the ticket booth and back to the hotel for the pick up with a minibus for my adventurous daughter’s zip lining. I took a tuk-tuk to the temples. We had an amazing day, but we suggest you choose your driver more carefully than we did. The temples are high and mighty. A lot of climbing means excellent views. Good shoes, water, and something on the head will make your day. Have clothes or sarongs to cover shoulders and knees when you enter the temples.

Day 2 we wanted an even better day, so we rented bikes. That was absolutely perfect! Slow enough to enjoy the air, smells and, sounds. Total freedom to decide what temples to visit. And the possibility to find the small and seldom visited temples that they don’t include in the ”small” or ”big” tour. The finale at Angkor Wat was such a magical experience. Put it on your bucket list if it’s not already there.


After climbing, walking, and biking we needed massage which is available everywhere in the bustling Siem Reap. You can find everything you ever considered buying or eating there. Crocodile handbag? Grilled scorpions or big hairy spiders? Fine dining? Cheap drinks? Siem Reap felt busier than Bangkok so you will not get bored, but don’t expect a quiet evening. 

Bangkok to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)

You might remember being a teenager, or you might have teenage children and can visualize how it was to wake my 15-year old daughter at 4.30 to take a walk in the pitch-darkness to find the station. All turned out perfect with some help from staying close to the station and meeting helpful people. Who is up at that crazy time? (Read the full story in the book). The train ride from Bangkok to Cambodia goes through a peaceful landscape and small villages. We were early and found seats alongside an ancient man who overslept his destination. 


The border crossing in Aranyaprathet is famous for scams! We were prepared for that and headed directly for the Songthaew to avoid having unwanted passengers in our tuk-tuk. Don't buy Visas! You will find official cashiers further on so just stay calm and move on. Even better is to buy an e-visa before you leave home. We did and had time to look at the interesting no-man-land we walked through, passed Visa control in seconds, took the free bus to town and had time for a simple and tasty lunch. We had anticipated problems and instead we had a nice and relaxing day with beautiful views and time to listen to the audiobook. Transportation can be something to look forward to on journeys!

Angkor Wat, here we come - not yet! We arrived too late to Siem Ream to visit the magic temples so, we swam in the pool, had a beer, and took off to the bustling city where we did not dare to taste the grilled scorpions or the big hairy spiders. A police officer had several while we relaxed over some drinks. 



We left the winter in Sweden and arrived in a hot and welcoming Bangkok. I had been to Bangkok twice before, but it was the first visit for my daughter, so we had decided to spend 2 days there. That might sound a bit short for some of you, but we had planned so much for our journey and decided that there is a lot to experience in Bangkok, but not as much as in Angkor Wat, and it's not as beautiful as the Cambodian Islands. And we also wanted to have time to visit our friends in Ban Phe on our way back from Cambodia.  

The hotel, Bangkok Centre, was a positive surprise! We had chosen it for the location by the train station, so the standard, the service, and the beautiful pool were all bonuses. We had planned to take the riverboat to China Town but got lost, so we had a long walk instead. I definitely recommend walking in Bangkok! It is lovely to stroll through China Town, feel the sents, listen to the bustling city, and find the small local restaurants where they serve tasty food from open pots. 

Finally, we found the riverboat which we believe is the best way to travel in Bangkok when it's to far to walk. Some tried to trick us and some almost succeeded, but only almost. Our highlights were the riverboats, Declining Buddha, Khao San Road, and the flower market in China Town. When we left our hotel at 5 in the morning, we concluded that the first part of our journey had been great. Cambodia, here we come!


This time last year I was in Angkor Wat!

Last year at this very day me and my daughter were climbing trees and temples in Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Now I summarise the year and conclude that I have managed to publish a book about our journey - Travel Light in Cambodia & Thailand. Why do I write books and blog about our travels? I have through traveling all over the world with my daughters, my partner, and with friends learned that me and my daughters experience a lot in a relatively short time (2-3 weeks). We have less luggage to carry than most people, but can still go snorkeling, climb mountains, sleep in tents, and eat at nice restaurants. And we always stay friends during our adventurous journeys. 

Before our trip to Thailand and Cambodia, we planned a little more than usual since our journey covered large distances. Below you find the map of our route. We read books and blogs. We talked to friends and asked questions on social media.


The journey started in Bangkok with commuting by boat, visiting temples, shopping at Khao San Road and checking out the train timetable at Hua Lampong before taking the train to Cambodia.