Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists | Blogs

Cambodia : A country that deserves to be visited

A trip that changed my life forever and a country that gave me a new perspective to successful living – Cambodia, in many ways defines extreme suffering and ultimate triumphs of an entire human population. A country that until recently was on the brink of total destruction, now has significant stories to tell, beautiful sights and sounds to share. Many would argue that the influx of huge numbers of tourists every year is a major cause behind some of the grave social issues within the country. While that is true to a certain extent, Cambodia is one country I personally believe that actually deserves and needs more tourists. When I say tourists, I mean ethical and responsible travelers. Here are four reasons why.

A couple of these four reasons might not be the usual “oh it’s a fairy-tale/paradise” ones, but are definitely worth exploring for pure humanitarian reasons.

Marvel and learn at the majestic Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm Ruins of Angkor

Touted as one of the most visited destinations in the world, the ruins of this ancient city is hugely popular owing to the magnanimous Angkor Wat and the mythical ruins of Ta Prohm temples. A paradise for architecture and history buffs, this huge ancient city complex is spread across the jungles in the outskirts of Siem Reap. Each and every stone of its structures signify the importance of these monuments to Cambodian society that relates back from the ancient bygone era of the Cambodian kingdom to the more recent turmoil of the Khmer Rouge. Mesmerizing at dawn and dusk, with the sheer audacity of the huge structures to its minutest intricate details, this place commands the awe and admiration like the Pyramids of Giza or Machu Picchu.

Soak in the beautiful landscapes

Otres Beach in Sihanoukville

Amid the most revered attraction of Angkor Wat the amazingly beautiful landscape of Cambodia stays very much underrated till today. Once I ventured out of Siem Reap I was greeted with the lush green countryside with a backdrop of the cloud-covered mountain ranges. Not until recently, the beach town of Sihanoukville (although it has a seedy vibe after sundown), the beautiful island of Koh Rong and the sleepy riverside settlement of Kampot were being visited by travelers. Jungles, mountains, islands, rivers and beaches – Cambodia has it all. Truly, one just needs to look beyond Angkor Wat to experience the rustic and laid-back atmosphere this country has in store.

Support the campaign against child prostitution

Child prostitution is the major issue in Cambodia right now

Cambodia is still very much an underdeveloped country with a majority of the silent population suffering from the aftermath of a devastating civil war. Poverty in this country stares at you in one of the ugliest forms – child prostitution. Children as young as 5-6 years are being traded as commodities and pushed into the sex trade and yes, the rise in tourism has a lot to do with it. That is where the need for ethical tourism and responsible travel comes in. There are organizations like Childsafe Cambodia that have various initiatives towards safeguarding the present and future of vulnerable children. An influx of more responsible travelers who are willing to learn, understand and help the situation of these kids, can go a long way in giving the wonderful Cambodian society the helping had they need and deserve.

The Scars of Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge regime claimed more than 3 million lives

A bloody, destructive regime that took almost 3 million Cambodian lives through mass executions, famine and disease, yet it remains among one of the least talked about civil wars. Considering it was not so long ago for human memory, every Cambodian above the age of 40 has lived through those times. The disastrous affect it had on this country are still evident from almost every facet of the Cambodian society. The faces and eyes of these people tell a million stories – one of which I heard from a survivor – which need to be heard. More and more travelers who visit the “Killing Fields” at Phnom Penh now get a brief knowledge on the Khmer Rouge and its atrocities. Like many other travelers, I became aware of this reality only after I visited Cambodia and that made me realize the need for people all over the world to learn and know about the difficult past.

There are some journeys that stay with us for a very long time. Some destinations have such an impact on our psyche that completely changes the way we look at the world. Cambodia has been THAT place for me. The six days of my stay in Cambodia were influential enough to change the course of my own notion of life. It is an absolutely beautiful country with a lot to offer. The iconic structures of Angkor, the beautiful beaches, rivers and mountains are a testimony to that. However, for a nation that is still trying to stand on its feet, the stoic resilience of its people with hope in their hearts is what makes this place so endearing.

Cambodia Pin

P.S. Here my every mention of being a traveler is meant to be for ethical and responsible travel only.

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Cambodia : A country that deserves to be visited
Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists | Blogs

Five places for best local food in Bali

Indonesian cuisine has been widely admired by food lovers and travelers across the globe. In fact, the food in Indonesia is regarded as one of the best in the world due to the wide range of distinctive flavors which in a way highlights the cultural diversity of this country. Bali is probably the most popular destination for people traveling to Indonesia and there are thousands of food options spread across the island. Being a popular tourist attraction, there are plenty of restaurants serving foods from different parts of the world. Western, Mediterranean, Italian, German, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai – name it and you will find it here. Bali is probably one of the many tourist destinations where restaurants serving international cuisine outnumber the ones serving local food especially in the popular tourist areas like Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud. During my six trips to Bali since June 2015, I took to the local food and that is how I fell in love with Indonesian cuisine. I must agree that it was real fun to try out the local food in Bali and here are five places that are definitely worth a visit if you want to try some of the best local food in Bali.

Warung Made, Seminyak & Kuta 

Bali local food
Steamed chicken stuffed with spices

“Chicken Betutu”, my friend answered when I asked her what is that one particular dish that is iconic to Bali. And she took me to this restaurant in Seminyak. The place had a rural old-world charm to it with dim lighting and modest looking furniture. This restaurant has an outlet in Kuta which has similar setting but has a smaller area. This restaurant chain is quite popular with tourists for some pretty amazing local food in Bali. Coming to the food, I went just for the Chicken Betutu. This traditional Balinese dish is basically steamed chicken seasoned and stuffed with traditional spices. It is served with rice, vegetables, roasted peanuts and an assortment of spicy sauces. The chicken looked yummy alright and it was delightfully tasty with the perfectly mixed spices adding all the flavors. This was arguably the best food I had in Bali !!

Bebek Tepi Sawah, Ubud

Bali local food
The restaurant area
Bali Local Food
Slow Grilled Duck

The biggest advantage of having a local friend accompany you during your travels is that you get to visit some hidden gems. This restaurant is one such delightful place located in Ubud that not many tourists would know of. With a wonderful rustic and rural outdoor location, this restaurant is built like a farm in itself and is well known for its duck specialties. Small open huts instead of the usual table-chair arrangement for the dining area around a small pond makes for an amazing experience in natural surroundings. With a setting that good, the food wasn’t far behind. One of the restaurant specials, Bebek Pangang or Slow-Grilled Duck was my lunch. The dish was served with rice, vegetables and three kinds of spicy sauce. The entire combination was so spicy, I was literally red-faced yet I enjoyed every bit of it. A place definitely worth visiting and a dish worth trying if you can tolerate spicy food.

Nasi Bali, Legian

Bali Local Food
Nasi Campur – Steamed rice with vegetables and meat

This restaurant is located right on the main stretch of Legian Street that runs across Kuta and Legian areas. The decor is quite simplistic although the restaurant itself is quite spacious. It is the food here that deserves a five star rating. Local favorites like Nasi Campur (Steamed rice served with vegetables and meat/fish/egg) and Nasi Goreng are very popular with the tourists visiting this place. I went for the Nasi Campur with meat addons. The service took a while but the taste of the food was worth all the wait. The price might seem a bit on the higher side for budget travelers however, the food here is among the best in Bali.

Warung Mina, Legian

Bali Local Food
Grilled fish served with rice and vegetables

This is yet another place located on Legian Street that serves some quite amazing seafood. With an extensive list of local seafood items to choose from, the fish preparations here are absolutely wonderful. Whether it is the grilled, barbecued or fried fish, the spices are nicely complimented to bring out all the distinct flavors of the dish. You will have nothing but a fulfilling experience for your taste buds once you try out some of their local Balinese dishes. The restaurant has a cozy and laid-back vibe to it with a live band playing on some evenings. I was particularly impressed with the furniture which is put together from slabs of raw wood, giving the whole place a pleasantly rustic and natural look.

Kuta Night Market

Bali Local Food
Fried Rice and Water Spinach in Oyster Sauce

Probably one of the most chilled-out places to eat in crazy Kuta, a group of small Warungs  (Indonesian for restaurant) located a few meters inside an alleyway make up for what people know as the Kuta Night Market. Do not let the name fool you as the restaurants are open during the day too. The food here is as real and authentic as it can get in Bali with the prices being quite cheap. You could have a plate of rice and vegetables/meat and a juice for as low as 20,000 – 30,000 IDR. Tasty local food with cheap prices makes this place a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Bali is a big place with a lot of fantastic choice of bars and restaurants. There might be some even better than the ones I have listed. During my six trips to Bali, these are the five places where I have had the best local food. Indonesian food as such is very diverse with different regions having their own special foods. Trying out the local foods of a region is one of the reasons why I travel. Most people call it an incentive but some people might not take to local food that much. However, getting to taste the local food surely makes our travels quite memorable.


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Five places for best local food in Bali
Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists | Blogs

Of All The Cities In Australia, It Has To Be Melbourne

Australia is one of those places that people from all over the globe dream of visiting. When you think of Australia, you might imagine the enormity of Uluru or the majesty of the Sydney Opera House. But Australia is a very big place. And there are many more cities and towns to see beyond Sydney. Are you looking for an opportunity to indulge in the culture, vibrancy, and history of Australia? You should consider visiting Melbourne.

Melbourne has a marvelous mix of architecture that will wow anyone who visits. For a country that simply isn’t that old, and isn’t very populated, Melbourne offers some surprising insights. Like many countries in the world, Australia too has had its share of dark moments in history. But there’s something about Melbourne that seems to project a positivity about this country. Here, more than most of the other places, there is a real feeling of community and multiculturalism.

Night Noodles Market image at Flickr

Melbourne is by no means boring. Perhaps the biggest part of its appeal is the sheer number of events, exhibitions, and activities that happen here. It’s easy to get to the city. Use a website like to find transport from the airport. It’s not that far, and you can be in a gorgeous city center hotel in under an hour door to door. Once you’re in the city, you will find lots of options for public transport. Alternatively, why not walk around some of the most popular areas?

Australia has some of the most strict entry requirements in the world. Make sure you pop online and check out your visa needs. Stays can be quite lengthy depending on your eligibility. This means you can soak up all that Melbourne, and Victoria has to offer. There are some good beaches, and the weather can be particularly pleasant at the beginning of the year. Getting soaked in the water could also be a fun way for you to spend your time here.

The wildlife in Australia is quite unique and is famous all over the world for its diversity. In Melbourne, there is a highly rated zoo that is easily accessible. But it’s the native wildlife that is easy to spot in any of Melbourne’s beautiful gardens. The Melbourne Aquarium actively protects many species found in the Southern Ocean too. It’s easy to see why Australia is world-renowned for their conservation. Trees and plants native to the region form some of the most beautiful areas of this part of the country.

Image from Flickr

Spectator sports are a huge part of Australian culture. Melbourne is home to many different kinds of global sports. From motorsports and football to the iconic cricket rivalry series between England and Australia -The Ashes,there are many events to enjoy. When it comes to arts and culture, Melbourne again trumps some of the other major cities worldwide. The Melbourne Festival in October is one of those events that draws crowds from all over the globe. Have a look at the official website for more on this popular event. Victoria is home to some of the best cultural centers for exploring Aboriginal communities in the area. Any one of them is sure to give you a wonderful experience. Melbourne is also home to some wonderful street art across the city so if you are into similar interests, this is the place for you.

Australia is a long way to travel and many folks across the world have aptly (and lovingly) named this country as “The Final Frontier”, but places like Melbourne make every kilometer traveled across the oceans worth it. If you’re looking for a taste of what makes this huge country great, then make Melbourne your preferred destination.


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Of All The Cities In Australia, It Has To Be Melbourne
Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists | Blogs

The importance of Visas

A passport may be the key to the world, but this key of yours is rendered useless if you don’t have the proper visas to enter certain countries. Just a few searches on the internet will reveal that so many travelers have faced the heat at the immigration checks due to either misinformation or plain callousness regarding the Visa requirements for destination countries.

If you’re lucky enough to have a passport from Germany or Sweden, which are ranked in the top for the most powerful passports with 158 visa free zones, then travel documentation should be a breeze. Though regardless of your passport status, the first thing you need to do before buying your plane ticket is check if you need a visa for entry.

Photo Credit @ Pixabay

It is obviously common knowledge to prepare the right documentation before traveling to a foreign country, but the number of times travelers fail to present a valid visa or comply with the visa restrictions is quite shocking. What seems to be a simple mistake on your part is actually a negative reflection on you, since any overstayed visa will be a recorded incident. Not to mention, it’s a terrible end to your travels.

Recently, a woman named Ivy Grace Paredes had to leave the US earlier than anticipated since she couldn’t be granted a visa on time to continue her stay. Having flown from the Philippines to join the biggest TV talent show in America, as well as the rest of the world as it is being aired in over 140 countries and becoming a household name in online gaming platforms, Paredes had to leave the X Factor early as there were problems in her application approval. This may have been beyond her control, but had she allotted more time between her application and visa expiration, maybe the situation could have been avoided.

Travel Passport
Photo Credit @ Pixabay

In short, a visa indicates the purpose of your visit, thus it is important that you apply for the right one and follow the limitations set by the said visa once you’ve been granted one. This includes territories that you are allowed to visit, the number of entries, and a time limit. Visas can be extended, but the requirements are usually strict, so it is best that you plan ahead and apply for a longer stay in your initial application. For those who can travel visa free to certain destinations, they also have certain limitations as to how long they are permitted to stay. Although many places will follow the 30-day deadline, some countries will allow you to stay for a period of 60 days, or even as short as 14 days.

Photo Credit @ Tamz Explores

Visas are no joke. In order for you to have the best experiences possible on your journey around the world, make sure your passports are up to date and have legal visas prior to your travels. It is always advisable to do some basic research through official immigration websites of respective countries regarding the travel visa requirements especially because factors like visa exemptions, visa-on-arrival and the visa fees are prone to frequent changes. 

Be sensible, smart and have a blissful travel !!


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Inspiring Travel Bloggers: Shayan and Kanika – Dose of Life

Dose Of Life
Photo Credit @ Dose of Life

Pakistan and India – breaking barriers and coming together to create something beautiful. This is the story of Shayan and Kanika, founders of travel blog Dose Of Life and my guest on Inspiring Travel Bloggers. I have collaborated with their blog recently and have been following their Bangkok diaries through social media channels. Today on this feature of Inspiring Travel Bloggers, we get to know more stories about their amazing journey, life in Bangkok and of course some travel tips.

Tamshuk : Shayan and Kanika, share with us the story behind the inception of Dose of Life. When and how did you get the idea of starting your own Travel and Lifestyle blog?

Shayan & Kanika : We just reached our 1 year anniversary of the blog this month and it has been an exciting year. Dose of Life came about from our growing passion for things around us. Shayan had been reviewing a lot of hotels and restaurants on Tripadvisor and it made us think, why not create our own platform for this?We were also bored of our everyday life – work, workout, eat, and go out with friends. Repeat!! But we wanted more out of life and the blog was a means to do so. It was our way of making sure life doesn’t escape us. The blog lets us do more – explore new places, try new things, and of course document it for ourselves and the world. For example, we’ve seen more of Thailand (and visited more countries) in the last year than in 5 or 10 years. Dose of life is our way of injecting some REAL life into our lives.

Tamshuk : I follow your Instagram stories almost everyday and most often than not, I get pleasantly surprised with the photos from relatively unknown places in and around Bangkok. Tell us about one such unusual/unknown or not so touristy place that you like the most and would suggest to any visitors to Bangkok.

Shayan & Kanika : The thing about Bangkok is that you just need to go off exploring and go in the tiny streets where you’ll come across all sorts of unique things. But if you really want to get off the beaten path, head towards Thonburi side and you’ll experience a different side of Bangkok – the real Bangkok. Also other interesting places to see are: Bang krachao and Pak Kret. If you’re into weird things, see the Siriraj Medical Museum or the Airplane Graveyard.

Photo Credit @ Dose of Life
Photo Credit @ Dose of Life

Tamshuk : Your blog has a “Style and Beauty” section which is mostly managed by Kanika (correct me if I am wrong on this). Was it a conscious effort to have this section on your blog from the beginning? I must say, it does make Dose Of Life stand out among other travel blogs out there.

Shayan & Kanika : That is correct, especially the beauty part but we haven’t been focusing on this much…yet. But yes it was a decision from before because we wanted to write about things we like. And Kanika loves beauty, style and fashion. She studied fashion marketing and she loves to dress up. To be honest, so does Shayan even though he hates to admit it. We’ve seen too many blogs also focus on “we don’t care about how we look. It’s about the experience”. While all true, we also need to be true to ourselves and we like to travel in style.

Tamshuk : I loved reading the posts in the “Eats and Drinks” category as I myself love to explore different cuisines during my travels. As a big fan of Thai cuisine, I know about a lot of wonderful dishes but here I would want to know the best Thai food for each of you and also the one Thai dish you are not that fond of.

Shayan & Kanika : Food is definitely a big part of our travels. We get really excited about trying new cuisine when we do. For Thai food, we are pretty biased since we love it and can’t live without it. Shayan is absolutely crazy for Kapao Gai (basil with chicken) while Kanika loves it. In terms of dishes not fond of, Shayan isn’t fond of Thai desserts. He doesn’t even like mango with sticky rice. Kanika, on the other hand is a lot more adventurous with food but she has a weak stomach so she has to be careful with dairy or food from the streets.

Inspiring Travel Bloggers
Photo Credit @ Dose of Life

Tamshuk : Your “POW (People of the World)” section just got the first feature which is a collaboration with four travel bloggers about the friendliest locals over the world. Tell us, how important it is for travelers to blend in with the local communities especially when it is a longer journey across a destination?

Shayan & Kanika : Like the section says, it’s the people that make a destination. The places get us there but the people (and food) are what ultimately decides if one should stay in a country. So it is very important for long-term travelers to try and blend with the community. For us, we never blended with the Thai community. Bangkok is such a melting pot; we’ve kind of stuck with our community of Pakistanis and Indians. But we do make the effort to interact with locals as well. Its part of the reason we started this blog.

Tamshuk : India and Pakistan!! The whole world knows the equation between the governments of our two countries. I say governments only because I feel majority of the common population in India and Pakistan do not have animosity towards each other. Tell us how difficult (or easy) was it to overcome this Indo-Pak barrier with your families especially, when you decided to get married.

Shayan & Kanika : Wow, this was a huge challenge. It involved a lot of arguments, convincing and some tears from the family for it to happen. It was especially difficult for Shayan’s mom to cope. But now the families get along so well. Basically we dated for 5 years, took 1 year of convincing, 1 year engagement and now we’ve been married 2 years.

Photo Credit @ Dose of Life
Photo Credit @ Dose of Life

Tamshuk : A fun question. How is it at home during the India vs Pakistan sporting events (cricket, hockey)?

Shayan & Kanika : Kanika is not a fan of cricket and definitely not hockey but we do hang out with friends when the matches happen and it is a very intense atmosphere. It’s more intense for Shayan since he’s the odd one out being the only Pakistani. It’s fun though. A lot of energy.

Photo Credit @ Dose of Life
Photo Credit @ Dose of Life

Tamshuk : Finally, what is the first thing you would suggest any visitor to do do/eat/see in Bangkok?

Shayan & Kanika : That is always a really open-ended question. Whenever anyone asks us this, we go blank because there are just so many things you could do here. It really depends on what you like to do and there is almost something for everyone. But basically, we would suggest doing a bit of research and being ruthless with what you’re looking to do. If you have a short time in Bangkok, it can seem very overwhelming because there’s so much to do. Now of course if it is your first time, the Grand Palace and temples are a must. Other than that, just go explore. You can even opt to do some local tours, which are great because they show you the real Bangkok in a short time. Check out Co Van Kessel, Take me tour and Expique. You can also read our non-touristy things to do in Bangkok post.

Thank you very much Shayan and Kanika for sharing your stories and views with us. Your journey is definitely the one to look forward to and we hope to get more of your amazing tips on travel, lifestyle and food.

Get inspired by Shayan and Kanika, learn more about Thailand, get some valuable style tips and more on their blog Dose of Life and social media (Facebook,Twitter and Instagram).

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Inspiring Travel Bloggers: Shayan and Kanika – Dose of Life