After experiencing Phnom Penh and learning about the very tragic events of Khmer Rouge, we were looking forward to moving onto our next stop in Cambodia, somewhere that won’t be constantly tugging at our heartstrings. Our destination: Siem Reap, which is located about 320km Northwest of Phnom Penh. We opted to take the bus there which took about 6 hours. The roads leading there were pretty rough as there are many sections of the highway under construction.
I would have thought for sure that traveling further north in Cambodia would mean having slightly cooler weather (similar to how it was in Vietnam – cooler in the North, hotter in the South, makes sense right). However this was definitely not the case! It was so hot there pretty much any time of day but by the afternoon it became scorching hot and made it almost unbearable to be out walking around for long periods of time without stopping in somewhere to enjoy the $0.50 beers and take advantage of the shade.
We chose to stay around the Old Market area of Siem Reap. We were lucky enough to have found a place with an air conditioned room however it didn’t seem like it was meant to be. There were many power outages at our place, we assume from the air conditioner since it only happened once we turned it on. At one point the power went out while I was taking a shower and Britt and Jeff were still out exploring the night market . For those of you who know me, you know that I hate being alone in the pitch dark (yeah, I’m a scaredy cat) so you can imagine my moment of sheer panic! I was sopping wet and completely unsure of what to do..do I leave the safety of the locked bathroom and venture out into the pitch black room? The fear in doing this was the risk of slipping on the floor and going ass-over-teakettle but I took the chance and thankfully everything turned out fine, no injuries to be reported! Finally the power went back on right as Britt and Jeff were returning but it continued to go out for the entire night which made for a very hot and uncomfortable sleep. Nevertheless, we decided to stay there for the rest of our stay, for one they were super friendly and secondly – honestly we just didn’t want to have to deal with moving places in that heat.
The main attraction with going to Siem Reap was to experience the temple Angkor Wat. We decided that we needed to see it in the (very) early morning to experience the sun rising over the temple. To do this we had arranged for a tuk-tuk to pick us up around 5:00AM so that we could make it there and purchase our tickets to enter, which were around $20.00US each. I couldn’t believe the number of people who were already there! I hate to say it, but going to Angkor Wat wasn’t really high on my list of things to do, I didn’t know too much about it to really have a keen desire to go. In saying that, once I was in Siem Reap I couldn’t be there and not go with Britt and Jeff (classic case of fear of missing out). Am I ever happy that I went. It was so beautiful watching the sun rising, poking itself out from behind the temple. Once we had seen all we wanted to see there, our tuk-tuk driver (who had been waiting for us this whole time) took us to each of the other temples. Each time we would find him waiting for us just outside along with all of the other tuk-tuk drivers, most of whom could be found taking a nap either in the back seat or in their hammocks that they would string up inside the tuk-tuk. It looked pretty comfortable actually, I could definitely see myself have a good snooze there.
While we were just perusing the streets of Siem Reap we noticed that some people were in their bathing suits. That meant only 1 thing – POOLS! I don’t think I have ever wanted to jump into a pool of ice cold water as much as I did while we were there. We ended up finding a guesthouse that would allow us to use their pool for a fee of course, only $5.00US. That allowed us to stay there all day if we wanted. It was heavenly getting in that water! The water was quite warm so it wasn’t quite a refreshing but, hey, who was I to complain at that point!
During the night we explored the markets that were around and the restaurants. We really wanted to taste some authentic Cambodian cuisine since, up until now, we hadn’t tasted any. I ended up trying a dish called Amok and it did not disappoint. The best way I could describe it would be slightly similar in taste to a thai curry dish without any of the heat. It was so good that I didn’t end up trying anything else. Of course like most Asian dishes, it was served with a side of rice. The meal wouldn’t be complete without a $0.50 beer!
I really enjoyed Siem Reap. Although it is a busy tourist town, I didn’t feel like it was too crowded busy or crowded. That being said, I was definitely looking forward to leaving Siem Reap and heading back to Thailand. We were heading off to the island of Koh Chang! Finally some beaches and swimming in the ocean!