Tag Archives: Travelling Itinerary

Top Places to Visit in Phnom Penh

Have you ever considered coming to Cambodia? Hmm….some may say yeah only with some obvious reluctance. When in Europe, I met quite a few people, always getting asked or telling where I was from. Some responded with quite a surprise, some receiving it normally, and a few with a frown not knowing where on earth Cambodia is, whether in Africa or somewhere so remote where everyone still live in small cottages with no electricity, no modernization of any sort and so on.

While in the airport in Treviso (Aeroporto di Treviso), just before Easter holiday a few years ago, I met a fellow Erasmus student. He’s from England and the minute he heard I was from Cambodia, he told me how much he wanted to experience some travelling in Cambodia, saying that that part of the world was like a dream destinations for him and his people, the Brits or the European.

People from the West usually know much more about and are more interested in Vietnam and especially Thailand, our neighbouring countries, which have done amazingly well with publicity that presents many positive and attractive images to the world. Cambodia, although less developed and with little being advertised to the world, has similar things to offer. Definitely, there’s a lot other people can explore when coming to Cambodia. From developed world where all are well in place, with high-rise buildings, all the modern technology and better standard of living, exploring Cambodia can be an exciting different experience. We have the culture, the history, and the way of living that can really fascinate foreigners. Although its features may not be absolutely fascinating for some, for those who enjoy exploring differences and gaining new exciting experiences, some days in Cambodia can be truly amazing.

Maybe not for now, but if you have any intention of coming to Cambodia in the future, its Capital City, Phnom Penh, shouldn’t be excluded from your list of places to visit. Besides being the economic and political centre of the country, Phnom Penh is also home to many other varieties, from the Royal Palace where our king resides and the Prison S21 concentration camp, remaining of the notorious Khmer Rouge Regime, to many different types of exotic foods and a growing number of western-influenced pubs and clubs for westerners as well as the local to enjoy.

And here are the top places everyone should include in their must-visit places when in Phnom Penh. Continue reading Top Places to Visit in Phnom Penh

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Italy to Slovenia via Goriza & Nova Gorica

11:00 PM, December 16, 2009

With a bottle of champagne grabbed from Auchan, I went for a small house party with my Erasmus friends from France and Turkey. The party wasn’t that noisy and eventful, with only some 8 or 9 people drinking, having some homemade snack, and chit-chatting. The evening went quite slow until we went to the next place for some more partying, in Le Queen, one of the nightclubs in Padova. From my friends’ residence to the club, we walked and then stayed there dancing for a few hours, from around 2 am to 4.30 am. It was awesome.

5:00 AM, December 17, 2009

I was back at my residence, immediately starting to pack for very first trip out of Italy since my arrival in Europe. I went through all my clothes, collected all the dirty ones for laundry, and folded all that was needed into my suitcase. It was a total mess, and it took me hours to finish it all. At about 9:30, I was ready to drag the suitcase and walked out of my residence to the central train station.

10:30 AM: From Padova to Gorizia

With my travelling buddy Shangru, I, after an extremely eventful night and without any minutes of sleep, met and took the train up north from Padova to Gorizia, the city that Italy shares with Slovenia; our destination for the night and the next day was a very beautiful city of Slovenia, called Bled.

I was sleepy and I tried to get as much as nap I could on the train, although I didn’t manage to very much, but the travelling was quite beautiful. Looking out at the scenery through the train window, the views of the countryside with trees turning grey from the cold winter, and with the farmland and the hills, were quite amazing. Despite the sleepless night, it all was a rather exciting moment, anticipating quite an adventure ahead in this trip.

train station in Gorizia

After about 3 hours, costing us about 10 euro in the regional train, we were at Gorizia, rather unsure what to do and where to go next so as to reach Bled in the end; I depended it all on Shangru, to be honest. However, with our little Italian, we kept asking people and the responses were just all that we needed.

From 2:30 PM: From Gorizia (Italy) to Nova Gorica (Slovenia)

the train station in Nova Gorica

It wasn’t difficult at all to get from this part of Italy to Slovenia; in fact, Gorizia and Nova Gorica are basically the same city, one side of which belongs to Italy and another to Slovenia. Opposite the train station, on the other side of the road, there’s a bus stop where the bus runs every 15 mn to another train station on the Slovene part; the one-way ride costs only 1 euro and takes around 10 mn.

It all was really interesting. It was like a moment ago we were in Italy, and now, only a few minutes later we ended up in a very different place. For a while, I almost forgot I was not in Italy anymore. Then, it was like “Bam! I’m in Slovenia. Yoohoo!!” It was all different; it’s all no longer Italian. The people looked different and seemed to behave quite differently from normal Italians, and more people could speak English.Then we were dropped off at that other train station, which looked like a normal building, not like any other train station we ever went to; we didn’t even recognize it was the train station, as all was written in Slovene. Although uncertain, we went in, asked someone, and went through to the other side of the building where it felt more like a train station, with a few old trains in our sight and the railway.

In the cold, we were waiting for the train to Bled, not very sure, still, that we were in the right place and that the train to Bled was coming. We kept waiting anyway.

3:30 PM: From Nova Gorica to Bled

Half an hour later, the train was there and we went up. We didn’t have to buy any ticket in advance; we could just pay and get the ticket inside the train, which is actually one of the nice things about going by trains in Slovenia as we don’t have to buy tickets in advance and risk being punished if forgetting to validate our tickets before getting on the train like in Italy. 🙂

The trip was beautiful; for one thing, it was really cosy sitting in quite an empty train in some comfortable seats. Plus, the views along the way were just wonderful; they did take my breath away.  There were some small villages, with forest and little hills lying beside unusually blue, clear streams and lakes. Further into Slovenia, I got glimpses of pieces of land covered with such a white carpet of snow; it was the snow I got to see first-hand other than a few flakes of snow that was falling down while I was packing early that morning. It was truly an exciting and memorable experience.

As two different guys, with different skin color, smaller eyes and flatter face, from time to time I felt being looked at, but glancing at people around us none seemed to care. People on the train were just acting normal; although we would never know what they were talking about in Slovene. However, just before the train arrived in Bled, we finally got to have some friendly conversation with the local. He was a writer, spoke perfect English, and turned out to be one of the nicest guys we met during the trip. After a while of talking, at the end of his trip, in Bled, he offered us a ride.

5:10 PM: Bled

At around 5 PM, we were in Bled. As it was December, it was already pretty dark and we didn’t get to really notice and enjoy the look at the city other than the snow below our feet. Then with the kind offer of free ride to our hostel by the guys we met on the train, we accepted it and were taken in his friend’s car and were dropped at the hostel where we were going to spend the night. Had we not met these gentlemen, it would have been a horrible and freezing evening of heavy walking and trying to find the way in this rather-quiet city.

with the kind, friendly people

I felt so lucky and this Slovene trip started out fantastic, with an especially good impression of the people. I was happy.

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2 Days in Rome

A big city it is, Rome has a lot to offer, with many places of attraction and plenty of interesting things to explore, and the attempt to travel in such a metropolitan in just 2 days was definitely a challenge. It wasn’t impossible though; on a budget my friends and I did manage to make the most out of our 2 days in this Italian capital and went to most, if not all, the important places.

On October 3, 2009, after a few plans of going to Rome failed the weeks before, we finally made the decisions and took off to Rome – the third Italian city my Cambodian friends and I had visited after Padua and Venice.

00:20 am

After several hours of a big dinner together, of finalizing our plan, and of packing, we in a group of 5 Cambodians, left Residence Luzzatti at near mid-night and headed toward the train station to catch a 12.45 night train to Rome. The thought of this trip made me both excited and nervous, excited because Rome is really famous and was mentioned as the dream destination of the leading female character of a blockbuster, Jumper, and nervous because none of us is quite sure about the roads ahead, whether things were going to be fine, whether there’d be affordable hostels for us to spend the night, and whether I had made the right decision to come along.

one-way ticket for 5 persons

The air was around 18 degree, and at 12:45 the train arrived. We all went up, first going onto the wrong compartment and almost missing the train; it was great that we didn’t actually miss it and need to change the whole plan. This night train was average and it was pretty hard to find a suitable room for the 5 of us. Finally we managed to find one room, with only one person sleeping. We woke him up and only after a while of us joining him, he stood up and forever left the room, leaving us just by ourselves.

7:30 am

After about 7 hours on the train with hardly any sleep, we made it in Roma Termini, the city’s main train station. The first thing we did was to go find the tourist information office where we could grab a map and find any suitable hostel to spend the night.

After a while of walking around checking available hostels, with heavy bags, we finally cave in to the fact that Rome is big and expensive, so we resorted to choosing Mosiac, the youth hostel nearest to the train station, although 25 euro/night/person was shockingly expensive for us average Cambodians.

Places to visit with a little more than half a day left of DAY 1

Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II: It was our first stop from the hostel. There are some interesting statues and nice gardens, although overall, this square is pretty normal to me, considering many other amazing sights in this beautiful city.

Basilica di San Giovanni: About 15 mn walk further south of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, there is a colossal church of San Giovanni. Compared to some other churches this one looks pretty modern and newly-built and it does have something really impressive inside. Walking inside, it’s simply amazing gazing at what’s in stores, the inside beautifully ornamented with colorful paintings, lightings, and, what amazed me the most, the elegantly and sophisticatedly carved sculptures. It really made up for the exhaustion from the crazy trip we had the night before.

Vatican City (Citta di Vaticano): There was about an afternoon left, which was just enough time for us to visit this smallest country in the world. The details of what have given this city such popularity can be found here.


The day couldn’t be started in a better way than going straight to visit one of the most well-known ancient moments in the world, the Colosseum, which was commissioned in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian to be completed in 80 BC by his son. From the hostel, we went on foot to find the Colosseum, along the way enjoying the Roman city views with people, common small-sized businesses, pubs, beautiful buildings and architectural structures, and interestingly-shaped, italianly-common pine trees.

Colosseum is just at the end of this street

Colosseum (originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre): I was in awe, and I couldn’t feel better about deciding to come visit this city. The feeling then was quite comparable to the one I experienced when I first had my eyes gazing at the Angkor Wat Temple. Many say pictures say a thousand words, but the thousands of words of all pictures I’ve taken can do no justice to this wonderful colosseum.

Seems like I was not the only one who would bear the pain of such a long queue

The entrance fee was then 11 euro, which also
included entrances into the museum inside
the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine.

If any tourist wants a pic with a dressed-up roman soldier

The Arch of Constantine, just beside the Colosseum


The Palatine Hill: A walk across this hill was really refreshing. From this busy Roman city, the Hill feels like a great place of nature, with flowery grasses and big trees accompanying traces of ancient civilizations.

This looks quite similar to a Cambodian design

The Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill: When we had walked across the Palatine Hill, there we arrived at the Roman Forum with just the Capitoline Hill behind. The remaining ruins of the Roman structures lie there elegantly, which couldn’t be any more interesting to me. As I went on visiting these places, I couldn’t help keep thinking how more fascinated I could have been if I were a student of archaeology or the like.

After we had made the most of the 11-euro ticket, we went on to places nearby, all which kept complementing the beauty of this wonderful city. We went to a few more piazza (squares), took photos, and after a while, took off from this area and headed for another place in my agenda.


The Pantheon: This one may not be as impressive and famous as the Pantheon on the Acropolis, Athens, I quite enjoyed visiting the place. Atmosphere around was cosy and relaxing, with pubs, gift shops, and many people, both tourists and locals, all around.

The Trevi Fountain (La Fontana di Trevi): The statues are beautiful and the water of the fountain seems cold and attractive in the summer, humid air. And as many believe, a wish made to come revisit Rome with a coin into the fountain will come true, and that’s exactly what I did.

The Spanish Steps: These steps, located in the Piazza di Spagna, are “one of the city’s iconic tourist attractions”. If I remember correctly, it’s written somewhere in one of the books I learned that every years there are a lot of patients coming to lay around the place hoping to be healed.

As it was getting dark, the Spanish Steps was the last attraction in Rome that we went to. For sure, there are still a lot more beautiful sights this Roman city has to offer, but what I have seen was enough to keep me forever impressed and in love with Rome. Plus, the rest that I haven’t seen is definitely the reason for me to go back.

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Things to Do when in Singapore

It was December 10, 2006; a group of 10 Cambodians and I, as the delegation to the Sunburst Youth Camp 2006, were taking off from the Pochentong Airport to Singapore. It was one of the most thrilling times in my life, as I got to experience my first airplane ride to a country other than Cambodia.

Singapore is actually the smallest country in Southeast Asia but, at the same time, has proven itself as probably the most developed in the region. Different from many countries in Asia, Singapore is very well organized in its own beautiful ways, with quite an impressive balance between development and nature, despite its narrow space. The people thus enjoy a great amount of welfare, high intellectual ability and, in general, high standards of living.

It was definitely an eye-opening experience. Although Singapore is only 2 hours away by plane from Phnom Penh, in many ways, both are different. In the bus from the airport to the hotel that I stayed for the next 7 days, I remembered feeling deeply contented and constantly mesmerized by all the development and all the new things that caught my eyes.

As during the entire stay in the city and the country, everything was planned and organized by the organizers of the Sunburst Youth Camp, I didn’t need to plan or pay for anything profound at all; therefore, sharing with you how to plan your trip financially would not be very possible. However, I’m going to write about the places I’ve been to–places that may be of some interests to you about Singapore.

What to do in Singapore:

Pulau Ubin, an island of OBS (Outward Bound Singapore)

OBS is like a place for outdoor, sportive activities. It’s located on an island, which is about 10 minutes by boats from Punggol Point Jetty. There facilities and tools for such activities as rock-climbing and the like can be found. Actually, I was not that into sports and I didn’t do much of it at all, so I wasn’t very keen on the activities. However, getting to do them with many other first-timers, these things were a lot of fun after all. I was quite inspired by the activities and learned a number of things from them as well. Mainly, most, if not all, taught us to appreciate working in team and encouraged trust and team spirit, pointing out how important each element is. For instance, rock-climbing requires a lot of strength and that could really take tolls on people who don’t have head for height; but many could pull that activity off and managed all the way to the very top. In fact they, or we, were not that strong and not that skilled to do such things, but during our climbing, we had a whole team on the ground, who was helping with the belaying and keeping us safely up. All each climber needed to do was to trust the team, believe in themselves, and to keep moving up with their strength.

Suntec City

If you want go shopping and having some fun strolling around, Suntec City is definitely the place. There are big shopping malls packed with hundreds of shops selling a big variety of products, from shoes and clothes to electronic appliances. There are also numerous places for you to try typical Singaporean, culturally diverse food.

Marian Square, Esplanade, & Merlion

You can view some of the remarkable things of Singapore here—some views that are really good for photos in this country. Just along the river, you can’t miss the famous building of Esplanade, which was beautifully designed, shaped like a rounded jack fruit.

Just about some 100 meters away, there is this big famous, symbolic statue of Singapore, Merlion, standing upright facing the river, with the Singapore skyline in the background. This Merlion is another thing not to miss including in your pictures when going to Singapore.

Singapore Science Centre

This science centre is a nice place; I had a good time taking a look at quite a few things which were very creatively made. Some were cool, some were impressive, and some were simply entertaining. I’ve been there twice, actually, but I still managed to have some fun the second time.

I was there with quite a few people, and upon arriving at this place, we immediately headed for the Omni-Max, where there’s a huge screen. It wasn’t 3D but the room was enormous with the capacity of hundreds of people, and the screen covers the entire ceiling of the room. We could just down in the chair watching at the screen ahead of and above us. It was one of my favorite parts.

China town and Little India

These are two separate places but both great spots in Singapore for shopping. Obviously, China town is where you can find a lot of Chinese little stores, Chinese cuisines and people, and Little India is run by the Indian-Singaporean population. At both places you can buy many things at quite a good deal, if you know how to bargain.


There is a lot to do and see in Sentosa. There are zoos, underwater museum, theme parks etc and etc. To get there, you take a bus or tram going directly from the city or first going up the hill on one side of the river, then taking a cable car up in the sky, enjoying a good view of this small country and sliding yourself down until you reach Sentosa. Then, you can choose and go do and see whatever you want to do and see. There’s a good chance you can’t do everything in one day or let alone in one afternoon, so it’s advisable that you choose well what you want to do and see on this resort if you don’t have a lot of time. From my experience, with limited time, although having been there twice, I only managed to do very little things insides, one of which was entering the underworld museum where I could see many sea creatures inside glass walls.

Night Safari

This place is where we can go, when it’s getting dark, sitting in the tram slowing going across artificial forest for us to enjoy the view of some wild animals. Interestingly enough, the tram is all open and most of the animals, including tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, etc. were only some metres away. Although I can imagine that the safari in Africa can be a lot more surreal, this one was also a very cool experience. Besides from the ride, there were also some animal shows, some folk dances, so on and so forth. There are also stores from which we could pick up and pay for some souvenirs for our friends and family.


Singapore is home to one of the most convenient public transport systems, I think. Many places in the city are very accessible by buses, trams and metros. You can get yourself a card and use it for easy access to all available public transports; the card is rechargeable with cash through machines that can be found at the metro stations. Charge on each ride depends on the distance it covers, and when I was there, recharging the card with 5 s. dollars was enough for a few days in Singapore.

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