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On Long Trips, Life Goals and a Little Soul-Searching


Tram Lyrattanak once worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But his move to a career in photography came after he did some traveling of his own, including a half-year trip through the United States. (Courtesy of Tram Lyrattank)

Tram Lyrattanak once worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But his move to a career in photography came after he did some traveling of his own, including a half-year trip through the United States. (Courtesy of Tram Lyrattank)

Photographer Tram Lyrattanak knows something about traveling. He’s been to 23 countries, and has often traveling alone. That kind of travel can do a lot of good, he told the “New Voices” call-in show recently.

“For Cambodian youth, I think they should travel by themselves after they have finished grade 12,” he said. “Possibly also during school break between grades 11 and 12. That three months is a good opportunity to discover yourself and learn more about your passions and what you want to be in the future.”

High school students don’t always know what they want to study, and sometimes they end up in programs they don’t like—because their decision came from pressure from family or their peers. Some time away can help alleviate that and prompt a clear idea for the way ahead, Tram Lyrattanak said.

Tram Lyrattanak once worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has a master’s in public administration, from South Korea, and two bachelor’s degrees: in media management and in English teaching. But his move to a career in photography came after he did some traveling of his own, including a half-year trip through the United States.

Tram Lyrattanak, a travel photographer and one of Cambodia’s first drone photographers talks about the benefits of soul-searching traveling for Cambodian youth on VOA Khmer's New Voices (Hello VOA) radio call-in show, Monday, January 19, 2015. (Lim Sothy/VOA)

Tram Lyrattanak, a travel photographer and one of Cambodia’s first drone photographers talks about the benefits of soul-searching traveling for Cambodian youth on VOA Khmer's New Voices (Hello VOA) radio call-in show, Monday, January 19, 2015. (Lim Sothy/VOA)

The challenges that come from that kind of travel can tell you more about yourself than any personality tests, he said, because they push you out of your comfort zone.

“We always go through new real-life experiences, meet many interesting people, see incredible places outside of our society,” he said. “So it opens our minds, while we also learn more about ourselves and our future goals.”

Tram Lyrattanak admits it can be tough to plan and execute such trips, especially because of budget constraints. But many countries, including those in Southeast Asia, offer cheap accommodation like youth hostels or home stays. It might be hard, he said, but it’s worth it.

And go alone, he said, because in solo traveling, you discover yourself.

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