Akele Akele Kahan Jaa Rehe Ho?

I'm going to Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of this week for about two weeks. This will be a solo backpacking trip - my first to Southeast Asia. Most people I've talked to think I'm crazy to go to Cambodia alone! However, people fear the unknown - and I think Cambodia falls into that category. Although Cambodia has a brutal past, it is now coming out of isolation. Despite being the third most mined (as in landmines!) country in the world and having the dubious distinction of being the third most corrupt country in Southeast Asia (after Burma and neighbouring Laos), it is now fast becoming an up and coming tourist destination.

My tickets to fly into Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) and to fly out of Hanoi (capital of Vietnam) have already been booked. I'm not pre-booking any hotels/hostels, tours or transportation, nor am I checking-in any luggage. It's just going to be me and my backpack.

My Itinerary

I'll be obtaining visa to Cambodia from Phnom Penh International Airport and visa to Vietnam from Phnom Penh. All I need to have with me are a few passport-size photos.

The main thing I want to explore in Cambodia is the Angkor Wat jungle temple near Siem Reap. It is the largest Hindu (now converted to Buddhist) temple complex in the world. Angkor use to be a Vishnu temple. I was fascinated by this place ever since I saw a documentary on it many years ago. Now that I'm finally going there, it's like a dream come true.

I figured two weeks will be too long in Cambodia and with other interesting places close by, I decided to add Vietnam, which is one of the three countries that borders Cambodia, to my itinerary. It was fun coming up with my itinerary; I just looked at the map of Southeast Asia and picked destinations that I thought would be interesting to visit - as if money was no object ;) That's how Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in southern Vietnam and Hanoi in northern Vietnam were added to my itinerary.

Ha Long BayI wanted to climb Mt. Fansipan (known as "The Roof of Indo-China") in northern Vietnam. However, that plan was dropped since I have no one to go with and climbing Vietnam's highest peak alone is definitely not a good idea. Instead, I'm now planning to go to Ha Long Bay (near Hanoi). Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Bay features thousands of limestone isles of various shapes and sizes. From the pictures, it looks pretty cool.

I'm leaving on Saturday, May 24th and will be reaching Phnom Penh via Hong Kong on Sunday, May 25th. If all goes well, then I should be back on Monday, June 9th. If not, then how long will you mourn me?! hah

It promises to be a great learning experience - to live and manage on my own in foreign countries whose languages I do not speak - and much needed respite from the fast-paced world of finance.

I gotta go - it's check out time! I'll try to update this during my trip to let everyone know I'm still alive and kickin' ;)

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