My Solo Travel Nightmare: Locked Up and Deported from Europe

Traveling and exploring Europe has always been a big dream of mine. Since I was a child I had always learned in school interesting information about the continent and there was no place on Earth that I wanted to visit than there.

In 2013, I made a drastic change to my life, paid off all of my debt, quit my well paid job as a nurse and booked a one way ticket to Spain. It was an experience that completely changed my life and opened my closed and limited mind to a whole new world of opportunities and ways of thinking.

During the time I was living and working in Spain I was finally able to achieve one of my dreams and visit many of the European countries that I had always studied about in school. The experience was magical!

In 2015, after having traveled to many European countries, I decided that I really loved to travel and that I wanted to do it full-time and COMPLETELY alone.

I started my solo adventure in Morocco, then to the south of France to walk the Camino de Santiago for 31 days, followed by a long term epic adventure trip across Europe.

After visiting Europe, I then grew the courage as a young solo traveler to visit Asia, then South America, Central America, Middle East and before I knew it I had traveled to over 70 countries around the world!

When I finally returned back to Spain after all of my travels, I pulled out the map and began to plan my next big adventure.

In that moment I realized that I had almost finished the entire continent of Europe and if I planned well enough I could visit every country by the end of the 2017 year and accomplish another dream of mine.

The only countries that I was missing in that time were:

  • Malta
  • Czech Republic
  • Norway
  • Belarus
  • Monaco

Being the goal driven person that I am, I quickly found a good travel deal to Malta ($15) and within just a week I was packed and ready to go an another adventure!

MALTA

I was so pumped up about my plan and continued traveling to my remaining countries, with the goal of celebrating my accomplishment in Monaco at the end of the year.

It was the PERFECT plan!

After leaving Norway, I booked a flight to Belarus, which is a country that had just recently changed their visa policy, giving Americans a visa free visit for up to 5 days. Although the weather was below freezing, I decided to explore Belarus while I had the chance and then fly directly to Italy, via Kiev, Ukraine and arrive to Monaco by train.

Belarus

Capital of Belarus

Everything on my trip went with such ease. No missed flights, perfect accommodation and many new and exciting friendships with people in all of the countries that I had visited. I arrived to Italy at 11pm, after many hours of travel from Belarus, feeling rested and stoked by the fact that I was officially going to mark off my last European country off the list in just a matter of hours.

I had all my travel documents prepared, a return flight to Spain, accommodation and pick up from the airport organized and my train booked that would take me directly to Monaco.

Just like any other immigration border check, I arrived with all my information and passport ready and a big smile on my face.

Most immigration officers pay special attention to my passport, given the amount of stamps that I have, but this time the officer was studying my passport a bit more than the usual.

He flipped back and forth through the pages and looked up at me with a stern look and back at the passport again. In very broken English he began to ask me about what I do in Spain, how long I have been there, why I travel so much and anything he could think of to learn more about me.

With a serious face, he said “Ma’am, I need you to come with me.”

I was led a small waiting room. Three men surrounded the immigration officer and then began to whisper to each other. Around a small table they pulled out my passport and a piece of paper and pen and began to look at my passport with great detail, writing on a sheet of paper little notes.

I remained very calm, knowing with certainty that I did not do anything wrong and what was happening was just a simple mistake.

At least that’s what I thought.

The immigration officer returned and on a piece of paper pointed to the number 94.

“You can only stay 90 days. You need to go now and you cannot come back.”

Feelings of anxiety started to take over me as and I began to argue my case. The immigration officer had absolutely no sympathy and with a stern look on his face repeated the same statement, “you can only stay 90 days. You need to go now.”

Growing more anxious by the moment, I then showed him a letter from my lawyer indicating that I was obtaining residency in Spain, but he firmly said “here in Italy we do not recognize this. You must go!”

He then pulled out a stamp and my heart instantly dropped to the floor. Without any sort of hesitation he picked up my password, threw it down on the desk and stamped an “X” and told me that I was going to be locked up and deported out of the European Union to Kiev, Ukraine.

At that moment I could not hold the tears back. I began to sob like a baby uncontrollably. All I could think about was my life in Spain, my apartment, with all of my stuff and those awful words of “you must leave and cannot come back.”

A woman working in the immigration department came down to find me hysterically crying and said, “I know this is a completely innocent mistake on your part and that you are not out to break the law, but why would you EVER come through this airport if you have questionable visa problems?!”

She mentioned that in bigger airports that no one checks or cares about these kind of issues, but in a small airport like Bergamo, Italy, they don’t have as much traffic coming in and out and they have more time to take you in for questioning for minor problems.

In the end, the officers collected my materialistic possessions and led me to a freezing cold bare room where I was detained with others that were genuinely breaking the rules.

I was all alone, cold and more scared than I had ever been. I felt like a criminal and there was nothing I could do at that point.

The sound of the bear like snores echoed through the barren room and tears continued to roll down my face. I had not eaten or slept for a full day and all I could think about was my nice comfy bed in Spain and some delicious warm food. However, my reality in that moment was so far from that.

I reached in the pocked of my winter jacket and I to my luck I realized that I still had my full charged cell phone. I walked through my cell with the phone high in the air trying to reach some sort of service, but had absolutely no luck.

The room was bear, ice cold and the minutes seemed to never pass. I could hear the sound of my stomach growling as I sat there fantasizing about something delicious to eat, but the officers did not offer me food or even a glass of water.

I made my way to my hard bed and laid there profusely shaking and able to see the fog from breath out in front of me. Feelings of regret and anger filled my mind for not having recognized my visa error beforehand and for having gone through that small airport.

I swam in a pool of negative thoughts of “should of,” but I quickly realized that this way of thinking was completely useless and that I could not erase the past no matter how hard I wanted to.

Time seemed like it was frozen. I desired more than anything to escape that freezing cold room and run away and never look back. Freedom has always been a normal thing for me and losing it for one night brought me to my knees and allowed me to see how much I take that special gift for granted.

Laying on my hard bed waiting for time to pass

At 4 o’clock in the morning the police banged on the door and screamed, “Lets go!”

I collected my belongings and was escorted to a police car with with the lights and sirens on. The car rushed across the runway to where my the airplane was parked and we pulled up to see a big bus full of passengers crammed together with the doors closed waiting to get on the plane.

We stopped and the officers escorted me from both sides up the flight stairs and onto the plane with a closed envelope with my passport and written on the outside,

“This document should not enter the hands of the detainee.”

It was a shameful walk up the airplane stairs. I could feel the eyes of all of the passengers watching me. I begin to imagine what many of them were thinking as they watched me get escorted on the same plane that that they would be traveling on for our 6 hour flight.

I stepped on the plane and instead of receiving the warm welcome from the flight attendants, I was given shunning looks from each one of them, as if I had committed the worst crime on earth.

They assigned me a seat in the front and all of the passengers began to enter one by one. Every single person gave me a look up a down, some with disgust and others confusion and fear.

Being the friendly, smily, outgoing person that I am, I felt hurt and a deep sense of sadness from the rejection. All I wanted to do was stand up and scream “I am innocent! It was a simple mistake,” but I knew that was not an option.

Finally everyone entered on the plane and within 6 hours we arrived in Kiev, Ukraine, where I was escorted off the plane and released at last.

The sense of freedom that I felt in the moment of being released was something that I will never forget and from that day I made a promise to myself to NEVER, EVER take for granted my freedom.

 

 

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THE PERFECT DAY GONE WRONG: MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN KO SAMUI, THAILAND

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The Perfect Day Gone Wrong: Motorcycle Accident in Ko Samui, Thailand

Thailand has always been one of my dream destinations. It has always attracted for its beautiful beaches, hiking, waterfalls, temples and an endless list of exciting adventures for adrenaline junkies, like myself.

After a beautiful couple of weeks in the northern part of Thailand, I escaped the countryside to visit the islands and relax along the enticing blue sandy beaches.

I prepared my favorite bikinis, underwater camera with my new Spivo stick and was more than excited to explore the underwater life and do some scuba diving. I had the perfect plan to explore the island of Ko Samui by motorbike, stop and visit some beautiful beaches, followed by finding some waterfalls hidden away in the mountains and end by visiting the famous Full Moon Party.

It was going to be the perfect escape!

After a 12 hour boat ride to Ko Samui Island, I finally arrived to my destination. I happily grabbed my bags, marched off the ferry and found my hotel where I would be lodging for the the whole week.

For this adventure I decided to meet up with a friend that had hosted me on Couchsurfing 2 years back in Malaysia that was also in the south to visit the Full Moon Party.

 We woke up the day of the Full Moon Party to beautiful blue skies and decided to start early by renting a motorcycle to explore the island. In order to get good videos and photos, I decided to enjoy the ride and be a passenger, something that I usually never do.

Smiling I looked at my friend and said, “You BETTER not get us in a wreck,” but never really thinking that could be an actual possibility.

We quickly planned our path and made our way to Chaweng Beach. We arrived to see a beautiful, clean, sandy beach, with barely a single person in sight.

After a beautiful visit there, we continued on our path to another beach, through the mountains and then finally to the local market to get some delicious Thai food.

The day was still young so we decided to explore further inland to see some of the stunning waterfalls that many other travelers had been talking about.

The sensations of riding through the hills, completely immersed in nature and the wind blowing in my face was a complete feeling of freedom and peace.

However, that feeling was short lived when our perfect day went wrong and in a short second my helmet went flying through the air and I made a hard crash to the ground.

My ears began to ring at a high pitch and all I could see was darkness all around me. An unusual strong pain started to creep in on my right shoulder and I knew that something was really wrong.

After a few minutes, the blurriness and darkness started to fade and I saw my friend on the concrete, covered in blood and in sheer panic at what had just happened.

With terror in his face, he said “I have no idea what happened, I have no idea what happened! I am so sorry! Are you OK, are you OK??!”

Within a short time people discovered us on the road and without a second of hesitation they called for an ambulance. Being the stubborn person than I am, I insisted that I could try and get us back, but as soon as I tried to stand up, I was overwhelmed by intense pain. I quickly realized that I was not able to get back on our wrecked bike and I that I was very injured and had no other choice but to go in the ambulance.

Medical help came within 20 minutes and we were rushed 45 minute across the island to a public hospital, which we quickly realized was a bad choice as soon as we entered inside by the stretcher.

The hospital was unlike any I had ever seen before. Within the first 10 minutes I saw a stray dog walking across the floor and line of sick and injured people waiting patiently all around me. To my right was a 3 year old boy with severe burns up and down his body from a motorcycle accident and the sound of the mother crying behind the curtain filled the room as the doctor cleaned his wounds.

I maintained a sense of calmness, but my friend on the other side still maintained a serious look of distress. Every minute that passed his swelling got worse and the bleeding seemed like it would never stop.

The doctor then came and told us it was time to clean our wounds and we instantly felt a slight dose of the pain that the little child was feeling beside us.

After the dreadful wound cleaning and x-ray, we were both given the OK to leave, with the assurance that absolutely nothing was wrong with us. We limped our way out of the hospital, looking at each other and knowing that something was not right about leaving the hospital so quick with no assistance.

After leaving the hospital the pain only grew more intense for the both of us. We both tried to ignore it, but the next day we decided to listen to our body and visit a more established private hospital to get examined again.

After a short time in the hospital we both received news that the public hospital failed to see. My friend ended up having a skull line fracture and would need to get surgery and my intense pain was due to a broken collarbone.

The doctor told me that I would need to stop traveling for some time, take it easy and absolutely no swimming, lifting, hiking or any sort of physical exercise. The moment I received this news I was only 2 weeks into my 5 month trip across Asia and all I could feel was disappointment about all of the activities and adventures I would not be able to do.

In many moments in our travels things do not go exactly the way we want them to. I had never planned for this type of accident to happen and it placed a major obstacle in my path and my plans.

I had expectations about the way that I wanted things to go, but life had something else planned for me.

Sometimes in hard moments like this its hard to see exactly what life is trying to teach us. Maybe life was trying to teach me to not take a single moment for granted or to teach me to slow down a bit in my life and travels.

Whatever that lesson was, I tried to keep a positive attitude and receive openly what life was trying to teach me. What I learned through this is that every single negative situation that we face has a lesson behind it that we can learn from.

It’s not always easy to open our eyes and see that lesson, but its there to receive. And lastly, no matter how hard the obstacle and hardship we face may be, there is always good to be found.

 

Don’t forget to also check out: 

5 TIPS FOR A PERFECT TRIP TO ANGKOR COMPLEX IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

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A MINI PARADISE: MYKONOS ISLAND, GREECE

 

 

 

 

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5 Tips for a Perfect Trip to Angkor Complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Complex is a 12th century natural wonder located in Cambodia in South East Asia. This magical place has its own special energy that you can feel from the moment you step foot there and when walking through the ancient temple ruins.

It would take months to explore and really come to know all of the greatness of the Angkor Complex, which is why its highly recommended to visit there without any sense of rush. Visiting slowly and with time allows one to really get a full unforgettable experience.

Upon visiting the temples, you will see three options available in order to visit the complex: one, three and seven day. Many tourists try to see it all in one day, which is difficult and quite exhausting. 3-7 day passes are even better options if time is not an issue.

I chose the 3 day pass and felt very satisfied with the amount of time that I had at each place.

Preparation

When you go to the ticket office to buy your ticket they will take a photo and print it off on a small ticket, which will be your gateway into the temples during the time frame that you choose.

This ticket is not able to be shared with other people and if you lose it you are out of luck. You will be asked to present this ticket multiple times and there is simply no way of sneaking around paying the price.

Take care of this ticket and make sure that it does not get wet. If that happens and they cannot recognize who you are, they will not let you inside. Many people carry their ticket in a plastic bag in order to avoid problems.

Updated Prices

 

One Day: $37

Three Day:  $62

Seven Day: $72

The price has increased over the years and many say that its more expensive than they would like. However, the positive part is that a small amount of the money of every ticket goes to helping a Cambodian children’s hospital.

Clothes

Just like any other temple around the world, a modest dress code is obligatory. This consists of long skirts, shirts that cover your shoulders and nothing see through. While that might be difficult during the scorching summer months, it’s necessary and you will be refused entrance if you are dressed any other way.

I had a sleeveless shirt with a scarf around me that completely covered me up, but I was asked to change into a complete t-shirt, regardless of the scarf around me.  If you have any doubts about whether your clothes are acceptable or not, its better to be safe than sorry.

If you run into a dress code problem there are many places to buy around the temples at a very low price.

Also, its very important to choose the type of shoes that you wear carefully. The complex is very large and it will require lots of walking. In addition, there will be some great opportunities to climb up the temples to get good views, so its much better to wear sport sandals or tennis shoes.

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1. Start Early and Watch the Sunrise

Many people are uncertain about whether they should get up or not to see the sunrise, especially given all of the mixed reviews that you will find online about the amount of tourists at that time of the morning.

While it is true that you will come across many tourists while visiting at sunrise, I still believe that its an experience that you must have while visiting there.

I went during the low season and I came across tons of tourists, so I couldn’t even imagine what its like in the high season. Its impossible to escape the tourists, but if you can focus your mind away from them and on the beauty of the temple, the beautiful sky and the peace of the sunrise, it can be a magical experience.

If you are really wanting to miss a lot of the crowds, avoid visiting sunrise at the main temple. There are other places that you can go that are less crowded and can give you very beautiful views.

2. Clearly Organize your Transportation & Price

There are many different ways to get around to the different temples. The most common ways are by tuk tuk or by bike. Many opt to bike around the complex, but keep in mind the time of the year if you plan on going about this way. Temperatures can spike to around 110 degrees in the middle of the day and biking under the burning hot sun could turn your peaceful day into an exhausting experience.

The best and cheapest way to get around, especially if you are with multiple people, is to hire a tuk tuk for a day. They will be at your disposal all day in order to take you exactly where you want to go, including to the temples that are around 40km away.

You can easily find drivers in the streets or through your hotel.

Given the language barrier, I would highly suggest to organize it through your hotel and make it very clear from the beginning where you want to go and a set price.

I met a few travelers that hired drivers that did not speak English and in the end they found themselves in an uncomfortable situation and getting charged way more than they though they were going to pay. In addition, the driver joined in for lunch and he ordered a big meal and left and expected the girls to pay.

Language barrier problems and conflicts about prices are very common, so make sure to go prepared so you don’t get ripped off.

Tuk tuks can be hired as low as $15/day to visit the nearby temples, but if you want to venture off to temples that are up to 45 minutes away, such as Banteay Srei or Beng Mealea, you can expect to pay up to $45 for a full day.

In additon, its very important to also establish the meeting point with your driver, given that the temples have many different exits, which can be long distances apart. Make sure to take your drivers phone number and if you get into any problems you can contact him easily.

3. Do your Own Research or Hire a Quality Guide

Walking around temples and exploring on your own can be a good experience, but I highly suggest if you get the chance, even if it’s just for a day, to hire a guide that can give you a good explanation of the places that you are visiting.

There are so many temples and if you don’t know where you are going, it can get a bit complicated.  I had a guide during my time and it was a positive experience. He was able to show me the best places to take pictures, history about the temples and give his own perspective as a local that was born and raised near the Angkor Complex.

Trip advisor has many reviews of the best guides that speak multiple languages, so do your homework before making any decision.

4. Don’t Attempt to See it All in One Day

In many online reviews and articles you will read about something called “temple fatigue.” When I first heard about that I thought it was a joke, but after my first day there I had a big dose of it.

I started in the hottest part of the day, at the most popular temples and had to fight large crowds of people, tour groups and lines up to 2 hours just to climb to the top of the main temple and experience the view.

After my first day I was not feeling so motivated about visiting again, but with a nice traditional spa treatment in the night, a good nights rest and a new agenda, I went back for the second and third day and enjoyed it to the fullest.

Getting up early really does make a difference, as well as packing adequate water and taking an umbrella, hat or sunblock to protect you from the sun.

5. Visit at Sunset Time

Maybe you decided that getting up at 4am is not your cup of tea. If that is the case, you can visit at sunset time instead and experience some beautiful views as well. There are many places to view the sunset, but again, it all depends on if you want to be surrounded by tourists or not.

One of my most precious views of all my time in Cambodia was at sunset time. There was not a single person around and the view was spectacular!

 

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10 Unique Travel Experiences in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Southeast Asia is an adventure paradise that attracts travelers from all over the world. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches, hiking, delicious variety of Asian food and incredibly cheap prices, Southeast Asia has it all.

After a beautiful trip through Vietnam, I made an overland trip from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia’s capital, Phenom Penh, before making my way to Siem Reap.

This is a city known internationally for its ancient temples and is home to the largest religious monument on Earth, Angkor Wat.

Given all of the amazing words I have heard about this place, I knew that I wanted more than just a couple of days to explore the area, so I opted for 6 nights in order to give me the chance to explore as much as I could.

It’s easy to think about traveling to Siem Reap and only think about visiting the temples, but this area is known for so much more.

In this article I will share with you 10 of my favorite experiences that I had in Siem Reap in order to help you organize your future trip there!

1. Angkor Complex

This is the most popular attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts people from all over the world

It was built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, dedicated to the God Vishnu, but over time converted to buddhism.

Walking with any sort of rush through the temples ruins can be a magical experience. Carvings are found throughout the walls and floors of the temples, each one with their own story and detailed art.

It was a surreal experience to walk through such an ancient place that holds such an important significance in the world until this day.

Price:

One Day: $37

Three Day:  $62

Seven Day: $72

Your ticket will have your photo on it, so you will not be able to share with others. This allows you access to 72 temples and the best part is that a small part of that money goes to a Cambodian children’s hospital.

2. Floating Villages

There are a few different floating villages that you can visit along Tonle Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s Largest freshwater lake.

This is a good way to see the local life and see how many Cambodians live until this day. It was an eye opening experience to see the local people, their homes and the floating schools and churches.

3. Spa Day with Traditional Treatment

This was hands-down my most relaxing experience that I had while visiting Siem Reap. It was so nice that I returned a second time to get another treatment.

Mudita Spa is by far the best spa in the area, with a variety of spa packages designed exactly for your needs.

For my first treatment I did their signature treatment, which consisted of a 90 minute massage done by two therapists, with hot cloths massaged throughout the body in rolling movements.

This was a first time for me and the experience was outstanding.

The second time I returned to get a traditional Khmer treatment called J’Pong Herbal Steam Treatment, followed by a 60 minute massage.

This is a traditional treatment in Cambodia, used to help promote circulation, give you more energy and help control stress. They use many different herbs, including lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and many more.

In this treatment you will sit in a curtained off steamed area for about 20 to 30 in order to sweat as much as you possible can.

After the stream bath you take a cool shower and then massage. I left feeling completely rejuvenated and full of energy after my treatment.

4. Old Market

Old market in the city offers everything you can possibly think of from clothes, house ware, souvenirs, food and so much more.

This is a great place to go and experience more of the local life and culture, while finding a nice Souvenir along the way.

They have a day and night market, so I suggest visiting them both to get a feel for both of them.

5. Khmer Cooking Class

This was a perfect experience to learn about the Khmer cuisine.  We started our day off at the local market, picking out our food and then directly to the kitchen for a fun afternoon of cooking.

We made a three course meal, uniquely selected by the chef himself. We learn how to make the most traditional dish of Cambodia, fish amok in banana leaves and a delicious chicken sour soup with salad.

During our cooking class we learned so many new tips and tricks by the chef who was by our side during the whole experience.

6. Pub Street

Pub Street is the street where all of the action happens at night. It is lined with my clubs, bars, restaurants and street stands, with a variety of things to eat and drink.

Many travelers are happy visiting there because during happy hour you can buy beer for less than one dollar. If you are a non drinker, you can still enjoy the lively environment and indulge in some delicious fried ice cream, which is found all throughout the street. Delicious!

7. Cambodian Performance & Show

Cambodia has their own unique dance and music, with fancy traditional outfits and dresses.  One of the best ways to see it all is by having a nice dinner and watching a live show.

I attended a cultural night at Borei Angkor Resort and Spa, which was a very luxurious outdoor experience where we enjoyed a delicious dinner, while watching a stunning dance and musical performance.

8. Landmine Museum

This is a museum that was created in the early 1990s by by an ex-child soldier. He learned the ends and outs of planting landmines when he was a child and now he uses his knowledge by visiting villages and disfusing the landmines that are present by hand.

Over half of the land of Cambodia is still unprotected from landmines and this museum sheds light on this issue, offering a ton of information that you can learn, as well as personal testimonies and photography.

This was one of my favorite museums that I visited in Cambodia. It was only $5 and all the money goes to raising money for landmine clearing, help fund schools and assist with children that have amputees as a result of landmines.

9. Relax the Pool

With all of the walking and activities that you can do in Siem Reap, its important as well to take a break and let it all sink in. The temperatures can be extremely high in the middle of the day and relaxing by the pool is a great option for a couple of hours of rest or for the entire day.

Many hotels have a swimming pool and relaxing by the pool with a nice book or music is a great way to pass the day.

10. Get Adventurous and Eat Bugs at the Old Market

If you’re wanting to get very adventurous and have a strange experience, head to the Old Market where you can choose form a variety of bugs to eat.

While many westerners might think that this is a crazy type of experience, this is very common and normal for most South East Asian countries. I must admit, I’m not a big fan of bugs, but I decided to give one a try.

I guess they say, “When in Cambodia!”

 

 

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A Tough Walk Through History: Killing Fields in Phenom Penh, Cambodia

Travel is an enriching experience that can teach you valuable life lessons, while also helping you to discover and understand more about the world and yourself.

This self and life discovery is what keeps me addicted to traveling and what has motivated me to travel until this point to more than half of the countries around the world completely alone.

Many countries across the globe have similarities in their lifestyle and traditions, but what I have learned in my journey is that, while this may be true, that every country has its own unique charm and something special to teach you if you are willing to see it.

The lessons that one learns on the roads come in different forms and if one travels with an open heart and mind, the lessons will come freely and one will begin to be transformed.

Traveling to Cambodia in Southeast Asia was an experience in particular that was full of lessons and moments that left me reflecting on my own life and way of thinking.  As I departed from Cambodia to venture off to Laos, I can remember the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the transformation that had taken place within my heart throughout my time there.

While traveling is a beautiful experience, it also brings you face to face with humanity and shows you the different problems that have existed throughout history and still exist until this day.

That is exactly what happened to me during my time in Cambodia, where I not only traveled for fun and pleasure, but I traveled to learn the Cambodian history on a deeper and more personal level.

While Cambodia is a small country, it is known for many things.  The average person might know something about this country through seeing a scene from the popular movie Tomb Raider, the well rounded traveler through the famous Angkor Temples and a history buff through the horrific genocide and war that happened years back.

This is a country that has so much to offer, but becoming the country that it is today was not an easy path for Cambodian families. Every single family there has been affected by some way or another by war and genocide and for many these feelings still linger with them today.

A Little Background…

From the years of 1975 to 1979 a communist leader, Pol Pot, lead what was called the Khemer Rough, killing millions of innocent Cambodian people. His goal was to kill off any one that was educated, religious, wealthy, or had any important positions in the government.

Absolutely anyone that went against what he demanded was instantly killed. Families were separated, children of all ages were taught to be tough, fight and kill. The death toll during those years was more than 3 million, which is why its so difficult to find many old people while traveling through the country.

On my second day in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, I took a trip to the killing fields for my own personal education and understanding. It was not the easiest place to visit, but I felt grateful and humbleness for having had the experience to learn for myself on the exact grounds that all of the horrible actions took place throughout history.

Both the killings fields and the genocide museum offer a great deal of information due to the fact that during those days they kept a very strict record, with photography of the men, women and child that were captivated and killed.

With a personal or audio guide one can walk through this dark time in history, listen to what exactly happened in detail and hear personal testimonies of survivors.

So one may be asking, “Why on Earth would you ever put yourself through that and visit there?”

History cannot be erased, but rather something that we can learn from.

Each and every hard time throughout history has a lesson behind it that can give us something valuable and applicable to our lives today.

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Information:

1. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng used to be a high school, which was turned into a Security Prison (S21) during the times of war. Up to 20,000 people were imprisoned and tortured there during those hard dark years

Personal guides are available in order to give you a better insight into the personal stories of the ones that survived and give details on the different rooms that you walk through.

2. Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (Killing Fields)

The killing fields are located on the outskirts of the city. With the audio guide it will take minimum 1 hour. The guide is included in the price and gives you a very detailed understanding of what people had to go through.

There are many difficult parts of this tour to see, including the killing tree where innocent children were beaten to death, as well as a building with more than 8000 skulls arranged by age and sex in display to see.

As I mentioned, the experience visiting these historical places is not easy, but its a very powerful way to get a good insight on Cambodian history. I highly recommend the experience for anyone that visits Phnom Penh.

 

Don´t forget to also check out: 

10 UNIQUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

5 TIPS FOR A PERFECT TRIP TO ANGKOR COMPLEX IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

ETHICAL ELEPHANT PARK VISIT IN CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

 

 

adminA Tough Walk Through History: Killing Fields in Phenom Penh, Cambodia
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