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One Year in Cambodia

In a few weeks I will have been one year in Cambodia. I’m a bit of a sucker for anniversaries, be they good, or bad, so it will be an emotional time. I recently saw a Tweet from Johnny Blair of Don’t Stop Living fame that said this was the longest he had spent in one country in his adult life. This stat had completely gone above my head. In fat my year in Cambodia would mean this was the longest I had spent in one country for a bloody long time, but just how long is a bloody long time?

To check out don’t stop living click here

When was the last time I had not left a country?

This got me seriously thinking! I left the UK in 2001 to move to the Cayman Islands, where I stayed for 2 and a half years. Before that I would regularly go on holidays in Europe, or do the cigarette run to France or Belgium. The last full year I can remember not going to any foreign country would therefore be 1997. I was at school and had no money.

In the Cayman Islands I would regularly not leave for long periods, but would go abroad at least once per year. I guess 2004 I would have done 10 months just in Cayman.

Almost a year in China

I moved to teach English in China in 2006, before which I had been working on cruise ships. Therefore 2006 was very much a year of travel. 2007 though I did not leave China until November, meaning 11 months in China, specifically Xi’an. After that I went on a 4 month 20 country blitz.

Since the birth of YPT

YPT was to change my life incredibly, and mean traveling pretty much all of the time. Initially most of it was obviously to North Korea, but well things have expanded since. I have even had weeks where I was on 4 continents. But, as they say all good things.

2020 Travels

Despite the shit show that 2020 was I had been leading the least visited countries tour for YPT, lots of new countries and before lock down I had been to 16 countries. Country number 16 being Cambodia.

How did I end up One Year In Cambodia?

Lots of crazy things happened in the world last year, but essentially I left China to flee from Coronavirus. As the shit started to hit the fan I found myself in Vietnam. The rest of the team (all two of them) wanted to meet up. At the time the only place open was Cambodia, so we came. Initially we lived in Siem Reap.

One year in Cambodia travels

So, we can’t leave the country, but of course that does not mean that we cannot travel. My first trip was to Kampot, a place I have since been back to 3 times, we then went to Anlong Veng, the last bastion of the Khmer Rouge.

To read the Anlong Veng Guide click here

The next big trip took us to Stung Treng and a whole heap of Northern and Eastern Cambodia, before my first trip to Koh Rong. I have since been back there two more times.

Being a football reporter

I’ve also now started as a football reporter/statistician, this has meat a whole heap of recent travel. I have been to Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong (as well as going back to some other places). These were all new places

To read about the nightlife of Koh Kong click here

To read about street food in Kep click here .

So, to summarize being “stuck” here has not meant no travel. In fact Cambodia has been almost like bastion of normality.

What is it like to spend one year in Cambodia?

Had I known that we would be stuck here I am honestly not sure if we would have chosen to be here, but hindsight is always 20/20. Should I have stayed in Vietnam? Or gone to the Philippines? Both of these would have had emotional and other benefits, or was Cambodia the right choice? These things are hard to tell until you reach the end, and the end we are far from at.

On arrival we checked out Kampot with a view to living there, before moving to Siem Reap. I had a lot of fun in Siem Reap and met some truly amazing people, some of which are still close to me now. I did though grow tired of Siem Reap and move to Phnom Penh. I have certainly been far happier since moving to the big smoke.

Since then I have been extremely happy in my Phnom Penh bubble. Yes I could have gone to other places, but with the special people that I have met and the experiences I have had, both amazing and awful, I am not sure I would change all that much about the last year.

Not traveling has been a drag in many ways, I am used to being constantly on the road, but perhaps with Cambodia I might have found normality and solace. Is Cambodia now my happy place?

One year in Cambodia, one year and largely happy.

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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