On Sept 1, Eiwa, her cousin, Jason and I went to visit Siem Reap for 3 days. We flew via Jetstar for SGD295.5. We were seated with a group of preteens who must have had their 1st airline ride and were quite vocal about it. Luckily, the flight was only an hour. We arrived at a very quaint airport. The architecture was made in such as way that it looked like a group of Khmer temples. Immediately, I knew this is going to be another exciting adventure, far from the usual urban jungle of buildings and traffic. Our driver/tour guide for the trip was waiting for us while as we got stuck in the immigration section with hoards of tourist trying to get out quickly.
The hostel we stayed was Ei8ht Room guesthouse. It would be difficult to find it by your own as the sign to the hostel is not that visible. We took their airport transfer to be sure we got to the right place. They had friendly staff and offered temple tour package at decent prices. We spend USD50 per person for the 4 nights stayed, airport transfer and temple tours for the whole 3 days. It was really worth it and at a very good deal. The accommodation was ok as well with decent bed and bathroom. The location was great as well since it was near to the Night Market and Pub Street.
Pub Street is where people can go there to chill and have a beer for the night. We got to try out their Vivo (Mexican) and Tigre (Italian) restaurants which was recommended by Lonely Planet. The food was ok but not same as the original versions. The Angkor Night Market was packed with stalls selling all kinds of clothes, herbs and spice, silk and accessories. Massage parlors were everywhere for a good price but we were leaning into finding one with a private spa atmosphere and most of them were open view/open air type, so we didn’t bother checking them out.
Khmer food is similar to Filipino food, although I personally preferred my own Filipino food as there are more variety. Its also like a mixture of mild Thai and Vietnam style, in which both kinds are my favorites as they are. One thing that got me interested was the Amok fish which was cooked in different ways.
At this time, 1 USD = 1.21 SGD. Apparently US dollar is the currency for Siem Riep.
So the trip started by rising around 4am to catch up in time for the sunrise on Angkor Wat temple. Entrance to all temples was USD40 for 3 day pass. By the time we arrive at the spot, there was already a huge crowd waiting for the same thing, complete with tripod. The sunrise was not so good due to the cloudy condition and so we decided to come back to test our luck again.
They were a lot of temples to see and I could never memorize them all. Each one has there own unique features even if they looked the same at a glance. Here is link that may guide you if you planned on visiting (Recommended temples to visit).
The temples are huge and have intricate design carvings on every wall. Most of the major temples were built nearby each other so we didn’t have to travel far. We managed to see most of the temples by early afternoon and decided for lunch nearby. Next thing we know, rain started pouring down heavily so we decided to make a detour and head to the Angkor Museum for a glimpse of its history. I really wanted to go to the Killing Fields but that was in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia.
The entrance was USD14. One of the funny and interesting thing I learned as that ancient times actually worship the male penis. I still don’t get it (maybe because I’m a female haha) and maybe it has to do with reproduction = abundance? Either way, it was hilarious to know it was taken seriously back then. Looks like history never change 🙂
After the museum tour, we went off to find a good massage place. We didn’t have much luck on that. All we see are rooms without aircon on (to save electricity if there were no customers), multiple mattresses laid down on the floor side by side and bathrooms that doesn’t encourage calm feelings when using it. Basically, we wanted our own privacy with decent facilities. I guess more people here are into the quick and cheap kinds. We tried one that looked comfy but my masseuse was bent on squeezing my head and mashing my back with quick jabs she classified massage. It was not a very good idea on getting relaxed.
After being willingly tortured, our tour guide then took us to the local carnival. It had the usual Ferris wheel, make-shift Carousel and shooting games like hit the cans and pop the balloons for a prize. Eiwa managed to win a can of beer hehe. We witness a wonderful sunset with pink and yellow clouds dotting the sky. It was a lovely scene with the carnival as the foreground. After that, we head off for a Khmer style dinner buffet at Koulen II Restaurant with dancers entertaining us with their traditional dances. We took pictures of us alongside the pretty dancers and their golden costumes after the show.
Breakfast on the second day was unique. There is a place called Blue Pumpkin that had breakfast in bed concept. It was a lovely way to start the day as we continued on our temple tour, one of them was where Tomb Raiders was filmed. The finale to the tour was climbing the hill to see the last temple for the sunset. We took an elephant ride going up for USD20. It was a bit daunting being on top while he was walking in a narrow road without any barriers to the steep drop, especially when another elephant wants to cross in opposite direction. Maybe I will have another elephant ride that doesn’t have to be climbing or coming down from hills. The temple on the top had the tiniest steps with steep height and small foothold. I wonder how small exactly the ancient people foot size was and how soldiers managed to climb those steps. We had to do sidestepping when climbing it. After dinner, we head to Pyramid, a local club for a feel of the night fever. It was ok.
On the last day, we decided to try one more time on the sunrise and got rewarded for waking up early. The sunrise was amazing! Truly worth it. We also got the chance to ride on a tuktuk. Breakfast was sampling the so called Happy Pizza, rumored to be flavored with a hint of happy drug. I got no effects though so it must be still a rumor or it maybe got banned. We finally got good massage in Devatara Spa which was just nearby our guesthouse. Pity that we only discovered it hours before our flight, else we would have been there the whole afternoon. We settled to have an hour body massage and it was heaven. We ended our trip with a lovely fine dinning lunch at a French restaurant, Abacus.
- Siem Reap and the Angkor temples – Siem Reap, Cambodia (travelpod.com)