Siem Reap, 6 Nights
I arrived late at night into Siem Reap from Manila. It was so quiet in the airport and nobody was smiling or talking, which felt a little unwelcoming, but little did I know that was the only place I encountered that feeling. Everywhere, I went in Siem Reap, the people were very friendly and would try and strike up a conversation.
My first full day in Siem Reap, I started off by exploring the backroads by foot. I stayed near the museum, slightly out from the middle of town. The backroads, or the locals area were lined with cheap laundry and cheap food. I was the only tourist in the area. I walked over to the mall that had designer stores for the air conditioning before heading to the Angkor National Museum. I got a great overview of the history of Angkor before heading out to the site.
Later in the evening, I rode with Mr. Chenda down to the Angkor ticket office for my pass and to see the sunset. If you buy the ticket the night before at 4:30pm, you can get a free sunset entrance. The pass I purchased was good for three days during the week and cost $40. We headed over to Angkor Wat, but it started to pour buckets of rain when we arrived, so I sat in the tuk-tuk for a bit for the rain to die down. It slowed down for a brief moment and so I jumped out for a quick photo. It was was a natural black and white photo from the clouds and the dark structures. Since I didn’t get much from that, I had Mr. Chenda cruise me around town in the rain to gather my bearings of the area. We shared a yummy pizza before going back to my hotel to get some good sleep before my early morning.
Mission accomplished! My ultimate goal here in Cambodia was to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. I woke up at 4am, for my tuk-tuk driver/guide, Mr. Chenda to pick me up at 4:30.
The ride was about 20 minutes in the dark to the entrance of Angkor Wat. He briefed me about the history and then sent me on my way. With a bunch of other tourists, I anxiously awaited the sun to come up.
The clouds and rain the previous night had me uncertain of what the sunrise would bring, but it turned out to be awesome.
After an hour of snapping about one hundred pictures of the changing sky, I explored the Angkor Wat complex for about two hours. Shortly after sunrise, the sky went white, and overcast, but the air was still warm.
Exhausted already, I had a little pick me up outside of Angkor Wat, “fresh” coffee in the parking lot with Mr. Chenda before we moved on to the next temple, Angkor Thom. Fresh coffee is rare here, mostly instant coffee is used. They were out of the donuts, so I got the chocolate chip muffin, which was tasty later in the afternoon for a snack.
I arrived at Angkor Thom where I spent most of the day walking around in awe of the beautiful architecture and history.
By the end of the day, I was beat. I was gone for twelve hours exploring. I couldn’t move when I got back, not even to go get a massage. I had dinner at the hotel and then off to bed. The dinner was chicken and rice for less than $5. You can get food cheaper in Siem Reap, but I didn’t want to leave and the hotel restaurant was nice.
The next morning, just wanting to relax for the day, I woke up and was checking my couchsurfing app for a future accomodation and saw a meditation class that was starting in thirty minutes. Although I wanted to stay in bed for a while, I jumped up and walked about ten minutes, down the street, across the river, and down a dirt road to the studio (thank goodness for maps.me app). Adele, the instructor/owner of Wayist Meditation Center, walked me through all of the steps. She has a really nice place in the outskirts of town. It was my first meditation class and was very much like yoga, as this practice was with movement.
Wanting to continue my day of relaxation, I took a walk and found a place for a massage. This place had you put on these pants as they don’t use oil. I think my massage was $3 or $5 the day of this picture. I am addicted to getting massages in Asia. I used to negotiate down to basically nothing until I started feeling bad, that they were getting so little. Now I will just pay what they say and give them a tip.
The next day, I was ready to explore more temples. I woke up early and went to meditation, then Mr. Chenda picked me up around 10:45 (which is a late start) and we hit up ten temples on the large loop. It was so hot and yet so pretty. I wanted to go home after each one because I was so tired and hot, but he kept me motivated and informed about all of the history of each one and why I needed to go in and see it. He is also a fan of photographs, so he took many pictures of me doing lots of crazy poses. I went back to the hotel and slept for hours, completly sleeping through dinner.
The Aspara Show was free at The Temple Bar. It was very entertaining, and the dancing was stunning. There is a short clip on my Instagram account of the dancing and music.
Earlier in the evening, I saw there was a free Ladyboy show at the Night Market, so I thought I would check it out. It was an efficient concept, get a pedicure or a massage and watch a show. The show however was pretty bad, but still entertaining while getting a pedicure.
My last day in Siem Reap, I did more of the same, relaxed, strolled, drank coffee, indulged on yummy banana shakes, enjoyed the area, met new people along the way and just took in the scenery. I also stopped at the salon in the mall where I had pizza the night before and got the best hair wash, scalp massage ever. Then they dried and straightened my hair. Later in the evening, I departed for the airport.
All in all, it was a great time in Siem Reap! I wasn’t originally planning to stay as long as I did, but it all worked out and was a fun experience.
Aside: Sometimes songs get stuck in your head when you hear them over and over, as I leave Cambodia, it isn’t a song, but a phrase… “Tuk-Tuk Lady?”