Exclusive travel memoir excerpt #13 ancient cambodia
Table of Contents
I’m delighted to present an exclusive sneak peek book excerpt for my new travel memoir ‘Backpacker to Nomad’
What’s Backpacker to Nomad? It’s my new travel memoir, chronicling the evolution from naive newbie to full-time traveller through my adventure & misadventures.
What readers are saying about ‘Backpacker to Nomad’
★★★★★ “The writing is excellent, and the author’s descriptions are so vivid” — Amazon Review
★★★★★ “You’ll get lost in Amit’s adventures and laugh along the way (mostly AT him)” — Amazon review
★★★★★ “I thought the way the book weaved between adventure and mental self-discovery was very smart. — Amazon Review
if you love travel adventures, discovery, escaping reality to drift off to lands far and wide this is the book you need to pick up.
Book Launched: July 27th 2022
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Sit back, grab a snack and enjoy …..
Ancient Cambodia travel story overview:
Amit had stopped seeing himself as a backpacker, being in the region for so long he started to feel like a local and well adversed into local culture. However there was a famous sight that took his attention, more so for the conspiracy theories and mysteries surrounded It’s history. Maybe the conspiracy theories were more fact than fiction.
Ancient Cambodia’s jewel in the crown
Even in the dead of the night, the air was warm. Moths, mosquitoes, and other bugs danced in the headlights to the music of constant horns papping from the never-ending train of tuk-tuks, taxis, and buses zipping past. For most of the Western tourists, travellers, and backpackers congregating by the side of the dry dusty road, it seemed like it was their first experience of it all as they were frozen, not sure how to cross.
You think this is bad, wait until you see what it’s like during the day, sniggered my inner voice.
They waited for an opening, for something that didn’t matter, frozen in their ways—for traffic lights to turn red and for the safety of the little green man to start flashing. Alex and I squeezed through the waiting huddle.
“You just have to walk, straight line, don’t dither. The traffic will just go around you,” I said to a group waiting for the traffic to ease off.
While they were apprehensive to take my advice, we kept walking to show how it was done. One pace, without hesitation, no dithering, through the papping and exhaust fumes choking out black smoke. Tuk-tuks, taxis, mopeds, and even larger vehicles weaved and swerved around us and other locals. Some only a toenail away but there was no panic in reaching the other side of the road. Crossing the road had become more frequent than putting socks on since being in the region. I remembered what we were like in Thailand that first time, when the blond braided backpacker gave us the same advice.
It was the travelling circle of life, unexperienced travellers being handed advice, then becoming experienced, in turn, handing out the same advice. We had been doing just that with newbie wide-eyed backpackers through Vietnam and Cambodia, giving them tips and advice to help ease their transition into this wild region.
smell a newbie
A pack of ravished tuk-tuk drivers waited on the other side of the wide road like hungry wolves, ready to pounce on fresh-faced travellers. But we were not fresh meat and they recognised that. Having travelled through the region for so long now, we wore the wear and tear of Southeast Asia, we knew how to blend in with the locals. Just like back in Sydney when a newbie arrived on the Kings Cross, all wide-eyed, surprised, in awe, or overexcited by things they hadn’t experienced before, or the clothes people wear, their appearance, makeup, clean shaved, it was the same here.
Travelling for so long wears on you. Even our clothes, no matter how much they were washed, had the smell of Southeast Asia ingrained in them. It was like a deterrent. They much preferred tastier fresh faces, clean, pristine clothes, wide-eyed and, most importantly, naïve travellers to rip off.
Calls of, “I can be your driver for whole day, I take you very cheap,” and, “You join the tour, it much cheaper for you,” rang around like bait towards the fresh-faced travellers and tourists thinking they were getting an authentic experience. They were an authentic scam.
Poor suckers, if only they knew they were about to get ripped off.
Even roaming stray dogs ignored us now—it didn’t matter how many times we washed our clothes, dirt, sweat, and musky aromas were fused into them permanently. This is what happens being a long-term traveller in Southeast Asia.
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Follow British backpacker Amit’s humorous wild ride into nomad life. From his early calamitous struggles with solo travel, the odd brush with death, to ghetto snobbing (his words), it’s been a ‘take the rough with the smooth’ type of journey
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There he was, just like every day at the bottom of the dark narrow side street. His cart stationary, pressed up against a crumbling dry wall, pouring out tea and coffee. It didn’t matter what time of day, this cart was never quiet of locals. It was too far off the normal tourist area in Siem Reap for any tourists to venture down. Most of them stayed in and around Pub Street—the touristy area. But locals and other long-term travellers knew this was the spot for the best coffee in town. The small Cambodian man spotted us and beamed.
Darkness masked the most famous main central structure, and walking along the wide gravelled flat bridge felt like walking into history. Southeast Asia was full of temples, and although the architecture was incredible and intricate, after a while, they all looked the same. The novelty had well and truly worn off. However, this felt different. It was almost as if the breeze floating through was actually ghosts whispering stories of its history.
Goosebumps started to pop all over the closer the structure became, although it remained hidden in the darkness. Voices and excited accents from all over the world became louder. Most people chose to get as close as possible, but Alex noticed an open spot—one perfect to capture the sunrise, but far enough away from the crowd. We both perched on to the steps along with a handful of others on this small open concrete bricked structure.
“Have you thought more? Before, at the cart, you were deep in thought… was it about your decision?” she asked as she sat a step lower but turned back towards me.
“I’ve not given it much thought at all to be honest—just thinking about what this place is going to be like… you know, the conspiracy theories.”
“OK, well, you know what I think. But it will come to you, the right thing as always. Just do not force it, let it happen naturally and the right decision will come.”
“Yeah, I know, I will do, but not today.”
Alex untwisted, staring back out at the darkness as light excited voices lifted from the huge gathering crowd in front and the handful behind on the steps. Angkor Wat was one of the most famous ancient temple complexes in the world. It was up there with the pyramids of Egypt, and the Aztec and Mayan temples of Central America. But through ignorance, I had no knowledge of its significance or history other than knowing it was used in movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. That was the main reason I wanted to visit it—to feel like Indiana Jones.
However, I had learnt it was the largest temple complex in the world, measuring 162 hectares, and was the capital for the Khmer Empire. It was originally built as a Hindu temple, but was later converted into a Buddhist temple. All of this was learnt through research over the past few nights. But more than its place in religion, which I had no interest in, it was its mythology that fascinated me. More so the amount of conspiracy theories surrounding Cambodia’s most famous ancient complex.
Time to become Indiana jones in Ancient Cambodia
Most conspiracy theories revolved around aliens, one even suggesting the whole complex was built in one day by a divine entity. I don’t know if I believe in that, but from the pictures and videos—and even sitting here not being able to see it yet—there was a mystical feel to it.
A collective gasp replaced all the light chatter in the air. A violet beam shot and grew from the horizon, the tiniest glimmer of light peeked through in the far distance. It wasn’t aliens coming to marvel at their own work, but morning was breaking.
The violet beam grew bigger before turning into a lavender sheen, lifting like a curtain against the pitch-black sky. The defeated army of darkness started to retreat. Silhouettes of the surrounding jungle trees started to appear first before three large cones from the central structure made their presence known. Its appearance turned the gasps into cheers for the grandest of unveilings. The lavender sheen had taken over the immediate sky, but darkness lingered above in the distance.
Read full story in travel memoir
This was just the start of the ancient Cambodia story, nothing is ever how it seems, adventures can easily turn into misadventures on the drop of the hat and not revealed itself yet.
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