The Cambodian Challenge March 2013

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Business Travel / 4 comments
Cambodian Challenge with Soul Journeys Travel

I’ve been considering my next place to travel for a while now. As the days get colder and I have just over a month left in Amsterdam, my thoughts naturally swayed towards warmer climes, and in particular heading to South East Asia, where I haven’t journeyed since 2006.

Phnom Penh bananas on the Cambodian Challenge

This part of the world is a special place for me, namely because I find the people very warm and friendly (in general) and the way of life very free. It’s also one of the cheapest parts of the world in which to live like a king or queen.

There’s a certain `no rules’ attitude that I love, especially when compared with highly regulated societies who take all the fun out of doing anything adventurous.

It seemed serendipitous then, when a few months ago I got one of those fantastic emails you can only dream about in my inbox. Linda from Soul Journeys Travel wrote:

“I believe you’ve got a skill set worth sharing with a whole community of people who would simply love to go on holiday with you! In 2013 we’re looking to implement one of our Cambodian Social Responsibility itineraries to which you might agree to come along on as the Tour Leader (Tour Leader simply means – the star attraction). Every Tour has a local Tour Guide who knows his/her way around.”

I was intrigued – I mean I don’t really see myself as a star attraction, but I certainly thought this sounded like an amazing opportunity, so I read on. Turns out Linda and her two business partners sell sell extraordinary journeys:

“We take people a level above their comfort zone and give them a profound life experience. By the very nature of these experiences, the opportunity to ‘give back’ is the driving force that enriches our tours.  We don’t ask our clients to put their hands in their pocket; we give them grass root involvement and create meaningful impact.”

She was asking me to lead a tour through Cambodia with a customized itinerary that would allow me to lead a group of intrepid travelers and entrepreneurs on the Cambodian Challenge.

Linda ensured me we would  return home with a bunch of new discoveries picked up on the way and a whole gang of new friends as people form life-long friendships on their soul journey travels.

Join Me On The Adventure Of A Lifetime

Oh yes it’s happening. This is now a reality. From March 10-18th 2013 you can join me and Natalie MacNeil (my business partner and WE Mastermind cofounder) on the experience of a lifetime. Below I take you through the full journey and what’s involved so you can make up your own mind on whether you’re going to join us.

Cambodian Challenge with Soul Journeys Travel


Day 1-2 – Phnom Penh and a Journey Through History

The Kingdom of Cambodia remains one of Asia’s most captivating destinations. In my opinion, Cambodia has it all and now is the time to see its uniqueness before it is recognized by the economic rat racers.

After being picked up from the airport and enjoying lunch we begin our journey in Phnom Penh, take in a little exploring and say good bye to today’s sun from a boat cruise on the Mekong River.

But remember this journey calls upon us to understand ‘challenge’, so we start with the past and what that did to Cambodia.

So the next day we will visit the famous Killing Fields (which left me completely humbled when I visited them in 2006) and now serves as a memorial to those murdered under the Khmer Rouge rule and provokes deep reflection.

When you understand their past – you wonder how these people have remained such a generous, kind and considerate population, and it makes you love this country even more; so we have met Cambodia’s challenge – and ours is yet to come.

We do this now so we can provoke the vision as we discover the country, the people, the survivors, the survivor’s children and understand the challenge they have had – and the challenges that lie before them.

Day 3-4 – Countryside and Island Life

Cambodian Challenge Rabbit IslandWe’re ready now for the stunning countryside as we strike out for Rabbit Island. We’ll visit rice paddies, learn the activities of the Cambodian farmer and stop to visit a local school and meet with the children of the farming communities.

On the way, we stop for lunch with a former Khmer Rouge family then continue on until we find ourselves on a beautiful white sand beach. The sparkling, warm waters and excellent swimming conditions of Rabbit Island are another world; and don’t we know it – as we sit down to a succulent and freshly caught seafood dinner.

We take in island life, have a day and a half for swimming, beach walking or strolling through beautiful island forest tracks, perhaps lucky enough to spot some giant bats; of course, if bats aren’t your thing; hammock relaxation with a good book and refreshing drink might be more your style or enjoy a local lady massage along the beach.

That’s when Natalie MacNeil and I will run an island workshop on what it takes to create freedom in business and adventure in life – what better location could you get!

This is my favourite part. We’ve devised a challenge for you to partake in. This will require pushing through some fears and finding the mental strength to complete it and achieve something that will no doubt be with you for days, months, even years.

Day 5 – Mekong River and Village Time

Cambodian Challenge with Natalie Sisson and Natalie MacNeilWith lots of stop overs we make our way to Kampong Cham, Cambodia’s third largest town located on the banks of the mighty Mekong River.  We picnic, take a bicycle ride (or travel by tuk tuk if you don’t like to stride a bike) to Koh Pean Island.

This is real life, rural Cambodia, and the village here is very poor. They work in the fields, as do the children. We make further donations in the form of supplies to the school (provided to you through Soul Journeys Travel), and the ‘sportifs’ amongst us can challenge children to a soccer match (which they will no doubt win).

We have to cross the bamboo bridge or take a ferry to the Island and will stay overnight in Kampong Cham.

 Day 6 – Angkor Temples

We are now only 2 hours away from the gateway to Angkor -a wonder of the world- where three days of exploring Siem Reap and surrounds await us.

Depending on our arrival time, we may donate blood at the Jayavarman VII Children’s Hospital  (run by a dedicated Swiss doctor supporting underprivileged children), or relax by the hotel pool; but be ready to explore the 10th Century and champagne at sunset over Pre Rup Temple.

Buddha faces in Angkor Wat Temple for the Cambodian Challenge

It’s at this moment that we truly understand the magnificence of this past civilization and how much its existence was representative of a ‘modern’ society during its époque.

It’s a sunrise experience for breakfast at the famous Angkor Wat Temple.

We also visit Angkor Thom entering via the South Gate and later, other temples such as Bayon, Baphuon, Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of Leper King. On to Ta Phrom, the jungle temple built in the late 12th century as dedication to a King’s mother (and from where Angelina Jolie fell in love with Cambodia).

In the afternoon, be prepared for Natalie and I to give you a surprise session within the temple grounds!

After an exhilarating day of living in the past, we take a relaxing but delicious dinner at a local restaurant and can choose an early night, or rise to the occasion of a KTV challenge in true Khmer style.

Day 7-8 – Fresh Water Lake and Orphanage Visit

This is when we reach Tonle Sap, which is likely to be something you’ve never experienced before (but then much of Cambodia’s like that).

It is Asia’s largest inland lake and biggest harvest of fresh water fish in the world. The lake swells to ten times its normal size during the wet season. We observe daily life lived on the water.

There are two communities of floating villages consisting of their floating school, floating fish farm, crocodile farm and many smiling faces. We can also go snake fishing if we’re prepared to catch them with our bare hands (that’s how it’s done!).

Now it’s time to meet the Happy Family Orphanage where 44 children reside. This orphanage had to fight to exist, and we learn about the strength and courage of a Cambodian grandmother who lost her own children during the Khmer Rouge.

We split into smaller groups to buy foods and supplies, or contribute to any maintenance work that will benefit the orphanage (be it cleaning, painting, building etc.).

Here is a beautiful little corner of Siem Reap and despite its rudimentary infrastructure; one can feel this is a happy place. One big happy family with no blood lines linking them.

That evening we can all come together for our final night’s dinner and take in a show in Siem Reap or simply relax at the hotel after our adventures.

Day 9 – Siem Reap and Happy Memories

This is when you get to pack up your bags and the incredible memories you will be able to treasure for years to come as you’re driven to the Siem Reap airport to head home (or perhaps you’ve decided to stay on and adventure some more…).

Will you join us?

So how amazing does that sound? If you want to read all this again on the official Soul Journeys Travel page and request a brochure and booking form you should.

Download The Brochure

Let’s recap on the main facts:

When is it? March 10-18 2013 (9 days and 8 nights)

What does it cost? The cost of the tour is US$ 2195. If you use discount code
NSNCC-13012 you will get $200 off.

What does it include:  All accommodation, food (as set out in the itinerary), airport pick up and drop off, our own private coach and tour guide and all activities PLUS the workshop sessions run by Natalie MacNeil and I

What doesn’t it include: Flights to Phnom Penh and out of Siem Reap

Book Online Now

*By clicking the link above you get taken to the Soul Journey Travel online booking form and can pay a deposit of $500 directly via PayPal or credit card. There are payment plans too and Linda will help you with these.

Got questions? Completely thrilled? Leave ANY comment below. Would love to know what you think!

  • Nat – you gotta stop doing such cool adventures! How am I supposed to save for that two bedroom townhouse (so there’s a room for you when you’re in VanCity) when you keep tempting me on adventures?! 😉

    • I know right. How can I stop though, this is what I live and breathe. Come on you know you want to – McLovely and McSexy in Cambodia. Bring your lovely lady and we’re all set. Oh and details of next retreat coming really soon so you can budget accordingly. Miss ya!

  • Laurie Rosenfeld

    Natalie, congratulations! This trip looks absolutely amazing. I can’t imagine a better way to see Angkor Wat and all of the other places you will be going. I was there 6 years ago and it was one of the highlights of my life. The trip you and Soul Journeys have created looks truly EPIC! Wish I could join for this adventure and will spread the word.

    • Thanks so much Laurie I truly appreciate that. I can’t wait either and if we get 10 or more people to join us this will be truly epic. So glad you enjoyed your time there and I too was there, around 6-7 years ago!

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