Moving to Jakarta has been a huge adjustment, not just because it’s my first time living abroad but because I’ve had to make the transition from being a long-term traveler to being a sedentary apartment dweller. I’m sure I’m not the only long-term traveler that’s had a hard time making this adjustment but, for me personally, it’s been unexpectedly challenging. I appreciate the opportunity of living abroad, even with all its ups and downs, but I miss the freedom and excitement that comes from being a nomad, that feeling of never knowing where I’ll be the next day or the next week.
Aside from being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Jakarta offers a semblance of security that I craved during my 12 months of non-stop travel. Having a routine, a source of income, an apartment to call home and a kitchen to cook meals in are all things I appreciate. But despite these little pieces of comfort and security, the road still calls to me. After living in one place for six months, I’m missing my former life as a traveler…desperately.
Because of Aaron’s busy teaching schedule and my overall lack of money, we haven’t been able to do too much traveling since we moved to Jakarta in August. Aside from quick trips to Bali, Malaysia and Singapore we haven’t actually left the confines of the city. And, let’s just say, both of us have been experiencing a bit of Jakarta fatigue for the past couple of months.
As I mentioned before, we’d been planning on doing a bit of traveling in January but because we are the most indecisive people in the world we had a hard time nailing down plans. We both assumed we would spend our vacation exploring one or two of the otherworldly destinations on offer in Indonesia, because we are living in Indonesia, after all. But being two people who have a tendency to make random, spur-of-the moment decisions we, of course, veered way off course and purchased two tickets to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
And we couldn’t be happier with the change of plans.
Aaron and I spent seven fleeting days in Cambodia during our first-ever trip to Southeast Asia way back in 2006. We were baby backpackers at the time and made the mistake of rushing through a country that’s so diverse we could have easily spent weeks or even months exploring all it has to offer. During that trip, we explored the crumbling temples of Angkor, wandered the seedy, riverside streets of Phnom Penh and learned all about Cambodia’s unfathomable history.
Back then, Cambodia was the roughest country I’d ever visited and, at times, it was tough. But despite being a bit rough around the edges, I was hooked. Aaron and I fell in love with Phnom Penh fast and hard. I can still remember sipping on Angkor beers at one of the many riverside bars and musing about moving to what we viewed was a very underrated Southeast Asian city.
Considering we were so enchanted with Cambodia, it’s ridiculous that it took us eight years to make it back here. But, in a sense, I’m glad we waited. Being able to return to a country a little older and a lot wiser is an opportunity both of us are relishing.
Touching down in Phnom Penh last week we were instantly reminded of why we loved this city so much. Our first night back in Phnom Penh we found ourselves in much the same manner as during our first trip. We’re still dreaming up all sorts of plans to make living here a reality – maybe I could write for the Phnom Penh Post, maybe Aaron could teach at a university or maybe we could just open up a little burrito shack (a very random dream that we have)! Perhaps we’ll never have the chance to live here, but if the opportunity ever presents itself, we will take it in a heartbeat.
While we spent a few days in Phnom Penh soaking up the culture, watching orange-robed monks stroll down the streets and getting our fill of Khmer food, we also made it a point to fit in some much needed beach time on the rustic island of Koh Rong, where we are now.
As I write this I’m sitting on the balcony of our little bungalow, perched on a hillside overlooking a bay that’s so picturesque you’ll just have to see it to believe it.
Aaron might or might not be lying in bed in the fetal position dealing with a bout of food poisoning (something that always happens when we travel) but, regardless, this trip has been pretty amazing.
I’ll be writing a lot more about our Cambodia travels soon, but for now I wanted to give you all a sneak peak of one of my favorite countries.
Have you been to Cambodia? Does it seem like the type of country you would like?
A special thanks to Leah from The Mochilera Diaries for interviewing me about my experience traveling as a couple. As many of you know I have a travel partner in crime, Aaron, but I’ve never really gone into what it’s like to travel together. So if you’re interested in learning about the nitty gritty of traveling with a partner or just eager to hear little more about Aaron and I and our crazy travel experiences, you can find the interview here. Also, if you haven’t already, check out Leah’s blog because it’s one of my favorites!