A Travellerspoint blog

Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Into the jungle, into the temples of Angkor and into the shoes of Lara Croft....

sunny 35 °C

Oh my night bus!
We booked a sleeper bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap (11.5 hrs) from 8pm at $19 each...
After some very poor (but stereotypically Asian) management, we found 2 "beds" together and nestled in for the night.

To describe our arrangement as slave-ship-like was not untoward.
It was like a human-traffickers wet-dream.
2 to a bed, approximately 24 beds (so 48 people) all lying down with an incline of the equivalent of two pillows jutting upwards at the head of the bed; aircon-circle-thingies pointing in every direction except where we wanted them; the smells of the onboard "luxury" toilet (which may as well have been a hole looking down to the erratically passing "tarmac") and peoples' foot odour kept wafting around; the gentlemen in front of me not fully comprehending the "sleep" concept of "sleeping" bus by using a torch to read a book - the type of torch used to find Rose on that door after the Titanic sank, a torch which lit up the bus like the 4th of July; and of course, the moth-eaten, damp and musty smelling blanket that provided less warmth than an ant's fart could provide wind.

However, contrary to popular Cambodian locals' belief, we in fact did not die in a firey, horrendous crash, so our blessings were truly counted.

We arrived in Siem Reap around 7:30am and were slightly perturbed to discover our driver from the Panda Guest House was in fact, not waiting for us, leaving us at the mercy of the piranha-esque shoals of tuk-tuk drivers, thirsty for their next fare.
We arrived in one piece but $6 lighter at our hostel and were pleasantly surprised.
A well-kept building with a healthy white exterior and pleasantly decorated interior, and helpful informative staff who supplied us with everything we could possibly need to get the most from our stay.
We even arrived a day early, and although they had no rooms available, they went out of their way to find us a room for the night nearby.

A lot of travellers complain about hostel-organised tours, but to be honest, it saves a lot of time and effort and you get above and beyond service.
It may be a few dollars above other places or going it alone, but I'd rather pay the extra and have some piece of mind that a jewellery or silk shop bombardment isn't lurking around the corner...!

Anyway, our room for one night was very nice and spacious with a large balcony and good views and only a stones throw away from the Panda Guest House.

20140131_110445.jpg
20140131_110459.jpg
20140131_110511.jpg

We ventured into town for some lunch, and as Ricky had been craving Mexican food in Sihanoukville, when we saw a Mexican Restaurant, our decision was made for us!

90_20140131_134258.jpg

It wasn't the best in the world but good enough.
We walked around for a while but it was quite hot and my legs hadn't quite recovered so we went into the covered market and spent ages bartering for various things.
Ricky sold me to one of the female stall owners at one point, she hugged me and said I was the best purchase ever and super skinny!
I liked her! haha!
After that, I dropped my dirty clothes off at a local laundry place and had a nap.

We went for dinner at The Sun where I had a Caesar Salad with chicken as my tummy wasn't very happy with me so I didn't want to overload it.
We then made our way round the corner to Pub Street.
Aptly named, given the vast expanse of pubs and drinking holes lining both sides of the street.
We went to the Triangle to enjoy some singing and Linga for a drag show before heading to Temple to enjoy a street party.
It felt like Mardi Gras!!

20140201_010032.jpg
20140201_010026.jpg
20140201_010021.jpg

I left after that but once again, Ricky danced the night away. I think the 75 cents draft beer may have been having a bad influence on him!

The next day we checked out of our temporary accommodation and went across the road to Angkor Wonder for breakfast and to see Mr. Whynot - ask him anything, his response will probably be "Why not?!"
We had some food and were about to leave with all of our bags when Mr. Whynot asked if we'd like a free tuk-tuk to our other hostel as it was only down the road and we had all our stuff with us.
We asked if he was sure that was ok, and his reply?
Why not!
Such a nice man!

We got to the Panda Guest House (again!) and went up to our room - lovely.
2 large, comfy, twin beds, a desk, a fan, ensuite bathroom with a hot shower and really well decorated.
This place was perfect - quiet during the day and night but only a 10 minute walk to Pub Street and the markets, etc.
Very impressed.

Ricky wanted Indian food, so we set off out again and headed towards the restaurants.
Ricky, having worked in an Indian restaurant for a while, was not overly impressed, but I thought my food was quite nice...!

I'd been having toothache for a few days by this point and I didn't really want to wait until we got home to China to get it looked at, so I asked the hostel if they could recommend a place.
They didn't know anywhere at first, but with some research online and a quick phone call later, they found one and arranged a tuk-tuk to take me there.

You can imagine my fears and ideas about the hole in the wall, back-alley "dentist" I was unknowingly being taken to but actually, I think it was the nicest dentist I'd ever been to in the UK - It was clean and well-presented, the staff spoke English and didn't mind at all that I'd just dropped in without an appointment.
10 minutes or so of waiting and in I went - good sized room, clean, modern equipment, and a dentist (always good!).
Long story short, and only a little wimpering later, I had gained two fillings and lost only $20 for the priviledge.
Much better.
My dentist visit of course left me without my nap so after dinner of crocodile fritters and an unpleasant burger and Amok fish, I went back to the hostel.
Ricky came back around 5am.

The next day we didn't really do a lot, slept in, went for walk, got some lunch then went for drinks in the Triangle as they had double beds hanging from the ceiling with small tables in the middle for drinks and food to go on.
We stayed there for a good few hours before returning to our hostel to go to dinner and an Apsara Dance show.
It was a buffet-style meal and after 2 plates of various worldly cuisine, Ricky and I were both stuffed, so we waited for the show to begin.
It was pretty interesting; traditional clothes and a story or two told through the dances.

DSC_0348.jpg DSC_0349.jpg
DSC_0350.jpg DSC_0351.jpg
DSC_0354.jpg DSC_0357.jpg
DSC_0358.jpg DSC_0359.jpg
DSC_0360.jpg DSC_0361.jpg
DSC_0362.jpg DSC_0363.jpg
DSC_0364.jpg DSC_0365.jpg

That finished around 8:30pm and we went straight back to the hostel as we had an early start the following day...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Angkor Wat; the Temples, Flooded Forest and Floating Village

Our day started abruptly at 5am.
We got into the tuk-tuk with our driver for the day and still in the darkness of night, we made our way to Angkor Wat for sunrise.
We had to wait an hour or so and although not mind-blowing, the sun rising over this giant monument of a past civilisation was quite impressive.

DSC_0375.jpg DSC_0379.jpg
DSC_0380.jpg DSC_0381.jpg
DSC_0404.jpg DSC_0406.jpg

As soon as the sun had risen, we made our way inside and the "don't get anyone in my photos" game began...

DSC_0408.jpg DSC_0409.jpg
270_DSC_0411.jpg 270_DSC_0413.jpg
DSC_0414.jpg DSC_0415.jpg
DSC_0416.jpg 270_DSC_0417.jpg
270_DSC_0418.jpg 270_DSC_0419.jpg
270_DSC_0420.jpg 270_DSC_0421.jpg
270_DSC_0422.jpg 270_DSC_0423.jpg
270_DSC_0424.jpg 270_DSC_0425.jpg
270_DSC_0426.jpg 270_DSC_0427.jpg
270_DSC_0428.jpg 270_DSC_0430.jpg
270_DSC_0431.jpg 270_DSC_0432.jpg
DSC_0433.jpg DSC_0434.jpg
DSC_0435.jpg 270_DSC_0436.jpg
270_DSC_0437.jpg DSC_0438.jpg
DSC_0439.jpg DSC_0440.jpg
DSC_0441.jpg DSC_0442.jpg
270_DSC_0443.jpg DSC_0444.jpg
DSC_0445.jpg 270_DSC_0447.jpg

Our tuk-tuk driver dropped us off at each place and told us where he'd be waiting for us.
We explored the various nooks and crannies and even got duped into buying incense for "good luck" (a fact, that would later, become painfully ironic!)
We moved on from temple to temple, each time the temperature climbed higher and higher...

DSC_0455.jpg DSC_0457.jpg
270_DSC_0458.jpg DSC_0448.jpg
270_DSC_0449.jpg DSC_0450.jpg
DSC_0451.jpg DSC_0453.jpg
DSC_0459.jpg 270_DSC_0460.jpg
270_DSC_0461.jpg DSC_0462.jpg
270_DSC_0464.jpg 270_DSC_0466.jpg
DSC_0468.jpg 270_DSC_0469.jpg
DSC_0470.jpg DSC_0471.jpg
DSC_0474.jpg DSC_0475.jpg
DSC_0476.jpg DSC_0477.jpg
270_DSC_0480.jpg DSC_0481.jpg
DSC_0482.jpg DSC_0484.jpg
270_DSC_0486.jpg 270_DSC_0488.jpg
270_DSC_0489.jpg 270_DSC_0490.jpg
DSC_0491.jpg DSC_0493.jpg
DSC_0494.jpg DSC_0495.jpg
DSC_0497.jpg 270_DSC_0500.jpg
270_DSC_0505.jpg DSC_0506.jpg
DSC_0509.jpg 270_DSC_0510.jpg
DSC_0513.jpg 270_DSC_0514.jpg
DSC_0518.jpg

We arrived at Ta Prohm - The Jungle Temple, and I was suitably pleased with the surroundings;
giant trees rooting themselves into the crumbling ruins, piles of abandoned rubble and delapidated doorways.
It was quite a stunning sight to behold.

270_DSC_0520.jpg 270_DSC_0522.jpg
DSC_0523.jpg DSC_0525.jpg
DSC_0527.jpg DSC_0528.jpg
270_DSC_0529.jpg DSC_0530.jpg
DSC_0531.jpg 270_DSC_0532.jpg
270_DSC_0533.jpg DSC_0534.jpg
DSC_0536.jpg DSC_0537.jpg
DSC_0538.jpg DSC_0539.jpg
DSC_0540.jpg 270_DSC_0541.jpg
270_DSC_0543.jpg DSC_0545.jpg
270_DSC_0546.jpg 270_DSC_0547.jpg
DSC_0548.jpg 270_DSC_0549.jpg
DSC_0550.jpg DSC_0551.jpg
DSC_0553.jpg DSC_0555.jpg
DSC_0556.jpg DSC_0557.jpg
DSC_0558.jpg DSC_0563.jpg
DSC_0564.jpg DSC_0565.jpg
270_DSC_0566.jpg 270_DSC_0567.jpg
DSC_0568.jpg 270_DSC_0569.jpg
DSC_0570.jpg 270_DSC_0571.jpg
DSC_0572.jpg DSC_0573.jpg
270_DSC_0575.jpg 270_DSC_0578.jpg
270_DSC_0580.jpg 270_DSC_0581.jpg
270_DSC_0583.jpg 270_DSC_0585.jpg
270_DSC_0590.jpg 270_DSC_0591.jpg
DSC_0593.jpg 270_DSC_0594.jpg
270_DSC_0595.jpg DSC_0596.jpg
270_DSC_0597.jpg 270_DSC_0598.jpg
270_DSC_0599.jpg 270_DSC_0600.jpg
270_DSC_0602.jpg 270_DSC_0603.jpg
270_DSC_0604.jpg 270_DSC_0606.jpg
270_DSC_0607.jpg DSC_0608.jpg
DSC_0610.jpg DSC_0612.jpg
DSC_0613.jpg DSC_0614.jpg 270_DSC_0615.jpg DSC_0616.jpg DSC_0617.jpg DSC_0618.jpg
270_DSC_0619.jpg DSC_0620.jpg
DSC_0621.jpg DSC_0622.jpg
270_DSC_0623.jpg DSC_0625.jpg
270_DSC_0626.jpg 270_DSC_0627.jpg
DSC_0628.jpg DSC_0629.jpg
DSC_0630.jpg

We had a break for lunch, having not been hungry enough for breakfast, and after feeding our driver, we made our long journey to the river boats to go to the Floating Village and Flooded Forest...

The cost for the boat trip alone was $25 each and in all honesty, wasn't worth it - especially considering all the tipping we had to do...
Now I know tipping is not compulsory, but when a very poor person is standing in front of you having just done you a service, you can't really refuse.
We went around the village before docking at a floating platform and changing into a much smaller, hand-paddled boat - our captain and first mate of this smaller vessel being a girl and boy both under the age of 12!

DSC_0632.jpg DSC_0633.jpg
DSC_0634.jpg DSC_0635.jpg
DSC_0636.jpg DSC_0637.jpg
DSC_0638.jpg DSC_0639.jpg
DSC_0640.jpg DSC_0641.jpg
DSC_0642.jpg DSC_0643.jpg
DSC_0644.jpg DSC_0645.jpg
DSC_0646.jpg DSC_0647.jpg
DSC_0648.jpg DSC_0649.jpg
DSC_0650.jpg DSC_0651.jpg
DSC_0652.jpg DSC_0653.jpg
DSC_0654.jpg DSC_0655.jpg
DSC_0656.jpg DSC_0657.jpg
DSC_0658.jpg DSC_0659.jpg
DSC_0660.jpg DSC_0661.jpg
DSC_0662.jpg DSC_0663.jpg
DSC_0664.jpg DSC_0665.jpg
DSC_0666.jpg DSC_0667.jpg
DSC_0668.jpg DSC_0669.jpg
270_DSC_0670.jpg 270_DSC_0671.jpg
IMG_20140203_2.png IMG_20140203_3.png
IMG_20140203_4.png DSC_0672.jpg
DSC_0673.jpg DSC_0674.jpg
IMG_20140203_5.png DSC_0675.jpg

They dutifully paddled us into the floaded forest and around on a boat no bigger than a tic-tac but I think that was one of the most enjoyable parts.
After tipping the children and exploring the very well constructed jungle canopy walk way, we got into our original boat and continued up the river to a huge lake that looked more like an ocean.
Before long, 2 women on separate long boats pulled up alongside us with cold drinks and snacks.
We enjoyed the novelty so bought some drinks for us and our captain and 3 large multipack bags of snacks for the village children.

DSC_0676.jpg DSC_0677.jpg

As we sailed back through the village, the children obviously knew what was happening and they started crowding the banks.
We tried to throw individual packets to them but it didn't really work.
In no time there were dozens of kids all around us when one boy ran off the edge and jumped into the water.
Soon half a dozen children were wildly swimming towards us as we showered them with snacks before continuing back to the "dock".

DSC_0678.jpg DSC_0679.jpg
DSC_0680.jpg DSC_0681.jpg
DSC_0682.jpg DSC_0683.jpg
270_DSC_0684.jpg DSC_0685.jpg
DSC_0686.jpg DSC_0687.jpg

We were once again asked to tip our captain, furthering our concern as to what exactly our $25 each paid for!?

On the journey back to the hostel, I couldn't help but think about how happy and content those villagers were with their lives, even though they barely had anything by Western standards.
They seemed to appreciate every little thing like it was the best in the world. It was refreshing to see.

It took an hour or so to get back to our hostel, where I showered and climbed into bed! It was only 6pm!

The next day, I was a little perplexed how nearly $500 of mine and Ricky's money had mysteriously escape from our private, locked room...
We spoke to the manager who said they'd had the same cleaner forever etc, etc and that we should have put our stuff in their tiny safe sticking out of a wall in reception...
However, my money was in a ziplock bag, in an inside, zipped-up pocket in my rucksack which was under a desk..... so someone had to have gone snooping around through my bags to find it..... peeved doesn't even cover it.
(So much for "good luck" incense....!)

We walked around for a bit, had some food, then decided to go to the Crocodile Farm...

As far as I could tell, it was a farm to produce leather, and the living conditions of the smaller crocs especially wasn't great - a lot of them had deformed spines due to the cramped conditions which was quite depressing.

20140204_135344.jpg 20140204_135358.jpg
20140204_135423.jpg 20140204_135449.jpg
20140204_140135.jpg

The depression continued however when we asked to buy fish to feed the larger crocodiles with, only to be told there were none - only live ducks and chickens....
Now I know what you're thinking, how cruel is it to feed a live duck or chicken to a group of hungry crocodiles?
Crocodiles need to eat too, and if they didn't eat them, a human being would have eaten them anyway.
I was still mercifully apologising to the duck the entire time I was holding it though.

mmexport1391514134123.jpg mmexport1391514303558.jpg

We had to wait around for our night bus to Vietnam so we went for an hour massage and drag show (for only $4) then we went to the bus office for 10:30pm and got on the bus around 10:40pm before setting off at 11pm.
We arrived in Phnom Penh around 6am where we waited for 2 hours for the bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
After a ferry crossing, a passport control stop and a different stop to scan our luggage, we entered Vietnam and arrived in HCMC around 3pm...

Posted by Lady Mantle 05:07 Archived in Cambodia Tagged landscapes lakes people children trees animals boats temples food ruins cambodia angkor_wat adventure kids hostel duck asia triangle travelling crocodiles poverty tuk_tuk massage rubble foreigners linga tomb_raider social_etiquette natural_beauty beautiful_buildings drag_queens bamboo_boat ta-prohm lara-croft terrace_lepers terrace_elephants cambodian_dentist panda_guest_house the_sun_restaurant

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

wonderful descriptions feels like I was on holiday with you xxxx

by mum

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint