3-Week Trip to Cambodia and Vietnam

This year started a little slow in terms of travel especially after traveling to Berlin almost monthly during the last year. This year there has been just two work trips to Sweden and one to Denmark, which don’t really count as what you usually see is just the airports, the office, and the hotel room if the trip is overnight. If you’re lucky, you get to hang our with your colleagues one night and see a bit of the city. ūüôā Also it has been unbelievably busy at work the entire beginning of the year and I was interviewing for a summer temp position at 8 p.m. on my last day before the holiday, but luckily everything worked out¬†very well.

It’s been a long time since I’ve last been in Asia. And when I say a long time, I mean that I haven’t been in that part of the world since 2005 when I came back from my student exchange in Shanghai. Since I’ve been mostly traveling in Europe with my carry-on, I decided to invest in a backpack.¬†Backpacking in Asia is such a clich√©, but¬†we would be moving from city to city¬†and I needed a bag, which I could check in. I’m still yet to check in my lovely purple Rimowa carry-on as I’m a bit obsessive about it remaining in a good condition. ūüėÄ

I did some research online and ended up ordering an Osprey Farpoint 40 l backpack, which turned out to be amazing. It fit everything I needed, it has a zipper, so you can open it up, and it has a cover in the back so you can zip the straps away.

0a_Osprey backpack
Osprey backpack

It also was big enough to fit two Muji packing cubes (a medium one with all my clothes and a small one with all my underwear and a bikini), some of my hygiene products, and two pairs of shoes. It was also roomy enough to fit the few things we bought during the trip.

0b_Muji packing cubes
Muji packing cubes

I think that packing cubes take a more space than if I would just put the things directly into the backpack, but the awesome part is that everything stays together and you always know where to look. This is especially helpful because everything I own is black. ūüėČ

I brought the following items of clothing with me:

  • 3¬†maxi dresses
  • 1¬†short dress
  • 1¬†sleeveless dress
  • 1¬†knee-high skirt
  • 1¬†maxi skirt
  • 5¬†tops with short sleeves
  • 1¬†sleeveless top
  • 1¬†pair of¬†yoga pants
  • 1¬†long sleeve top
  • 1¬†lightweight down coat
  • 6 sets of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • Flip flops
  • Sneakers
  • Flats
  • Scarf

Lessons learned:

  1. If I don’t wear something at home, it means that I won’t wear it while traveling¬†either. I had one t-shirt and one sleeveless top, which I almost never wear and they went¬†almost unworn while I kept wearing other items and worrying¬†whether I’ll have enough clean clothes left.
  2. I didn’t consider the activities enough. I only had one pair of pants, which I thought I’ll only be wearing during intercontinental flights, but in fact some of our activities required wearing pants or shorts.
  3. I didn’t consider the weather enough. I had mostly clothes for really warm weather and they worked out just fine until we got to Hue and Hanoi. It rained in Hue, so it was chilly and there were a couple of days in Hanoi where the temperature was quite low.¬†I didn’t even have pantyhose with me, so I ended up wearing yoga pants and the only long sleeve top much more than I thought or wanted. Luckily I had my lightweight down coat with me!
  4. I had a lot of maxi dresses and a long skirt, which turned out to be very useful especially in Cambodia. The Angkor Wat temples require an attire that covers the shoulders and reaches the knees. The same went for the Royal Palace and also the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum requested guests to dress with respects to the victims.
  5. If I would do the trip again, in addition to an additional pair of long pants and a couple of long sleeve shirts, I would’ve brought a light waterproof jacket. There were a couple of days when it rained or drizzled and it would’ve been much more comfortable wearing a waterproof jacket than the lightweight down coat, which was too hot for the weather, but it was the only thing I had.

Hygiene product list:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Facial cream
  • Makeup remover
  • Deodorant
  • Hair spray
  • Toner
  • Eye cream
  • Hand cream
  • Facial cleanser
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Dental floss
  • Comb
  • Shaving razor
  • Shaving gel
  • Feet file
  • Powder
  • Highlighter
  • Mascara
  • Lash curler
  • Eye pencil
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton pads
  • Nose spray

Lessons learned:

  1. I should’ve left all my makeup at home. I ended up wearing makeup once during the entire trip. It was too hot and humid for makeup to stay on properly, we swam in a pool a lot, and of course showered a lot because it was so hot. Also I was wearing sunglasses 95% of the time, so nobody sees the makeup anyway. ūüėÄ If I’d done that, I could’ve left some more items at home such as makeup remover.

Other items I packed:

  • Small pouch with necessary¬†meds, band aids, bobby pins and tampons
  • Credit cards
  • Power bank
  • iPhone/iPad charger
  • Headphones
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Osprey 40 l Farpoint backpack
  • Fj√§llr√§ven K√•nken Black small backpack
  • Passport
  • Itinerary plan
  • Ticket printouts
  • Lonely Planet guidebooks on Cambodia and Vietnam
  • Sunglasses

The guidebooks recommended to either carry a backpack or a cross-body bag due to some grab and run thefts commonly carried out on bikes, so I decided to go with a backpack. Didn’t feel¬†any risk of theft, but almost all of the tourist and actually locals as well favored backpacks or cross-body bags.

I also left my wallet at home and carried the money and credit cards in two different mini ziplock bags one of which was with me and other in the safe in the hotel room. Not the classiest nor the most practical solution,¬†but I don’t have a travel wallet (yet) and I like my regular wallet too much to potentially lose it. Also it is quite big, so I prefer not to carry heavy items with me unless necessary. This is partially the reason I gave up carrying a camera. Another reason is that the phone cameras are getting quite good and I’m not striving for pro quality, but rather for practicality. ūüôā

Fjällräven Kånken Black backpack

I carried all documents, hygiene items, and chargers with me on the flights in case my backpack got lost, but luckily it arrived every time. I also just use ziplock bags instead of any kind of specific travel bags for different loose items.

Carry-on: makeup bag, liquids bag, hygiene items bag, and charger bag

I feel that this set of items was already pretty good, but I need to tweak a few things for the next time. I also got a couple of pieces of clothing and a pair of flats that were so worn out that I wore them during the trip and threw them away at the end of it. This way I get some extra room in my backpack for gifts I want to bring back.

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