I’m glad I had Cambodia at the beginning of my two weeks trip in March, when there was still plenty of energy to burn. It was three days full of climbing and exploring temples in an oven temperature heat. Drank so much water but hardly went to the loo, literally sweated it all out.
So, early last month I visited Siem Reap, the gateway city to Angkor Wat, a popular tourist destination in Cambodia. We stayed at Golden Temple Villa guest house on recommendation from some friends who have stayed there before. Siem Reap itself was a typical developing South East Asian city, the roads were packed with vehicles, and you could often had to jaywalk to get to the other side of the road.
My favourite spot in the city was a relaxing place called The Red Piano not far from the Old Market area, where I had probably the best – ever – french toast for breakfast. We also found another place with great food, a restaurant near Pub Street called Khmer House Restaurant. Had a very tasty Khmer soup there, I was surprised that I liked it because I’m not much into sour taste.
We took a Tuk Tuk to travel between the temples and other tourist destinations. Our driver was 7644, he was almost as cool as The Stig, and here’s the proof:
NOTE: YouTube (rightfully) stripped out the copyrighted songs I used in the video below, and ironically they also put an ad for the song they removed, double low blows for YouTube users. To get a feeling of how much better the original video is with the songs, open up Jamiroquai’s Cosmic Girl video at the same time. The opening beats really suit 7644’s waving cape.
We usually started the day early in the morning, 7644 took us to each destination, he then waited while we explored each destination as long/short as we wanted to. In total we visited 21 places: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Thommanon, Chau Say Tevoda, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Srah Srang, Prasat Kravan, Kbal Spean, Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean, Preah Khan, Bayon, Beng Mealea, Lolei, Preah Ko, Bakong, and Tonle Sap.
My personal favourites were:
- One of the temples (I can’t remember which temple by now) on a high hill, people climbed up there to watch the sunset. The steps were insanely steep but no one actually slipped and fell down.
- The trail walk to Kbal Spean at some national park. Figuring out where to step on the piles of rocks was quite fun, though the ‘waterfall’ at the end wasn’t really a waterfall.
- The boat ride to the floating village at Tonle Sap lake.
That’s the ‘happy go lucky’ part of the trip, I’ll add a little bit of serious endnote here…
Cambodia _is_ a poor country. That’s the main thing that hit me as soon as we visited the outer parts of Siem Reap. I felt a touch of guilt witnessing the level of poverty, but I’m neither Robin Hood nor Bill Gates. As an outsider, we can assist, but if there’s going to be a change for a better life, it’s the Cambodian people themselves who can make it.