Three Ways Cambodia Changed my Mental Outlook

I met my girlfriend back in April of 2017. She is an avid travel bug and as I got to know her I thought it might be fun to give international travel a try. So in September of 2017 we packed our bags and took flight to Cambodia in Southeast Asia. Here are three ways it completely changed my outlook on life!

1. I Learned to Appreciate the Initial Shock of a New Country

After a long but restful flight from America to Cambodia we arrived late at night and hopped into a pre-ordered taxi to get to our hotel. I held myself together but later admitted to Shaylin that I was completely mortified! Where the heck are we right now!? As we drove through the streets of Phnom Penh my internal meltdown told me that this foreign place was not where I belonged. Every block further from the airport was another reason why I should turn the taxi around and fly home immediately. It was not until well after the trip that I realized that my reaction existed only because this was a drastically new experience for me. I had no knowledge of this side of the globe and it was very evident upon arrival. But I trusted my girlfriend and figured I could survive this experience if I just persisted through this initial shock.

2. I Learned that Culture Submersion Leads to Understanding

The next day we immediately went back to the airport to fly to Siem Reap and further into the unknown culture of Cambodia. We hired a tour guide for our first couple of days and he did an amazing job of immersing us in the local culture. At the end of our first day my mindset had completely transformed and my opinion of Cambodia could not have been more positive! The people who I lacked knowledge of proved to be some of the kindest humans I have ever met. The landscapes and ancient structures are sights that I will forever remember, and the local markets provided some of the most authentic experiences to memory.

I HIGHLY recommend hiring a local tour guide for the first day or two in a new country. They will help acclimate you to your new surroundings and once you are comfortable you can venture out and explore on your own.

3. I Learned to Admit that I was not as Open-Minded as I Thought

The country of Cambodia will always be special to me as it provided proof that my mind was not as open as I once thought. I had convinced myself that I could read about any place enough to travel there successfully and I’ve never been more wrong! There is no substitute for experiencing a country in person and pushing yourself to grow every step of the way. I now have the slightest idea of how different people live around the world and that helps me to appreciate all of the opportunities that I’ve been given. Needless to say I caught the travel bug and we visited Peru just a few months later, but that’s a story for another time. πŸ˜‰

Working Hard in the Fish Markets

What was your first travel destination? What was your initial reaction and how did if effect your outlook on your life? Where’s the next place you hope to visit? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments! And thank you for reading my blog! If you want to see more content on travel, photography/videography, and adventure all while appreciating the effects of community and understanding then please follow along!

15 comments

  1. It’s amazing what travel can do for a person! My first international destination was a fishing camp deep in rural Quebec, beyond the end of the dirt roads. Culturally it wasn’t that different from northeastern Ohio (which is kind of a cross between the Midwest and New England), but that trip was my first experience of ‘wilderness.’ That fact alone was awesome, and made me long for similar experiences. I’ve no idea where I’ll be going next!

    Like

    • That’s awesome Josh! I have a buddy who is adamant that the best way to really see the culture of a country is to go on a fishing trip. They’re just so secluded from the normal bustle of the tourist locations and you really get to see how those people live. That’s so interesting that the culture was similar to Ohio, and of course any first experience of wilderness is one to remember!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane Lurie says:

    Cambodia wasn’t my first destination but SE Asia is at the top of my list of incredible travel and photography experiences. International travel is the best education of all. πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. Cambodia is a fabulous place to start your Asia adventures! Sounds like you have already learnt the fundamentals of what makes one a traveller and not just a tourist in a country. Safe travels!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. alexraphael says:

    Travel and reading have expanded my mind so much. Always fear to see a reminder of how travelling can shape a mindset.

    Like

  5. Forestwood says:

    Travel is an educating experience indeed. Our media only every gives one side of the story. Being there in person is real and you see your own perspective. My first trip was to Nepal and I felt I was in culture shock for 2 days. I felt guilty at my first workd lifestyle. It was extravagant and wasteful. Since then I have always had a soft spot for Nepal and became involved in humanitarian projects. Travel can open so many new doors to the world.

    Like

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