Feeling slightly worse for wear, we checked out and boarded the coach to Siem Reap. Regardless of the early start, we were pretty happy to be heading somewhere new. The coach ride was gloriously uneventful and we used our time well to fully inspect our eyelids.
Arriving in Siem Reap, Luck was definitely on our side as our coach passed directly in front of our hostel on its way to the station. In five minutes, we had checked into our 6 bed shared dorm and had begun sampling the menu in the restaurant downstairs. The hostel was a huge building with around 5 dorms in each floor. As it’s still “off season” this meant people were nicely spaced out and we didn’t have to listen to too many drunken renditions of Robbie Williams, “Angel” in the wee hours. The hostel even had its own pool next to the restaurant and even though it was quite small, it was nice enough to attract a permanent gathering throughout our stay. After some much needed grub, it was time for some equally needed admin. We took up residence at the two desktop computers and booked a few options for our journey back to Thailand. That night we slept soundly, and by soundly, I mean to the sounds of the American girl snoring in the bed above. 🤗
The next day we enjoyed a really nice breakfast of fresh fruit and omelettes before going for an explore around town. It was a short 5 minute walk, passed the Hard Rock Cafe, over a small bridge to get to the main market areas. Compared with the rest of sleepy Cambodia, this 1km sq section of town was buzzing with life. As well as the collection of different markets and the famous “Pub Street” there was also the largest super market we had seen in 5 months. We made our way a little further out of town towards the nearest “Maybank” ATM, the only cash machines in Cambodia that don’t charge. The good thing about withdrawing money in Cambodia, is that most cash machines dispense dollars as standard. This does make everything a little more expensive but means you’re not in a rush to get rid of any remaining local currency before you leave.
That night we had dinner at the very appropriately named “Try Me” restaurant. Another amazing find by Ella, it has great reviews on TripAdvisor and os listed in almost every “cheap eats” article online. We expected cheap and cheerful but instead arrived at a really nice boutique restaurant.
We would thoroughly recommend,
• “Amok Fish” (traditional Cambodian fish curry – tasted amazing, kind of like a Thai green curry but with delicious cuts of fish fillet)
•”Lok Lak” (again traditional Cambodian dish – a huge serving of spiced beef strips with rice)
Both dishes tasted amazing and at $3, we couldn’t work out why anyone would order anything else.
The next morning, we begrudgingly awoke to our 4am alarms. Our prearranged tuk tuk driver/guide picked us up from the hostel at 4:30am so that we could collect tickets and arrive at Angkor Wat in time for Sunrise. Annoyingly, having to wait 15 minutes in queues at the ticket office meant that sunrise was already well underway by the time we reached Angkor Wat.
Annoyances aside, watching the sun rise through the trees as we drove through the stunning national heritage site was enough to make us happy our eyes were open.
Our first stop was at the entrance to the Angkor Wat temple itself. We joined the mass of bodies shuffling towards the entrance, managing to find ourselves at the front of the crowd, as most people stopped to get 50 different photos of the same thing. We’ve seen our fair share of temples on our travels but this was absolutely gigantic. The gate was opened at 5am and the procession of backpacks and selfie sticks then made its way into the temple. The stunning stone carvings along endless hallways make it easy to see why so many people flock here everyday. We spent a few hours, walking around, taking photos and probably still missed out 40% of the temple grounds.
📷 – morning blessings
After 10 mins of trying to find our driver amongst the sprawl of sleeping tuk tuk drivers, we were off to the next temple. Driving through the site is just as impressive as the temples themselves and make us contemplate how nice cycling would be, before we quickly dismissed the idea and resumed our cosy tour.
📷 – speeding to the next site
The next temple was a little smaller and didn’t open until 7:30am. We killed another 45 mins, walking around the grounds before the gate was opened. Although smaller, the complex building was equally impressive with detailed faces carved in the stone towers. From inside we watched a family of monkeys pruning each other while teaching the babies to jump and climb.
📷 – if you look closely, a baby monkey is jumping across the gap on the right
Over the next few hours, we made our away around the site, losing count of the temples we had seen, yet remaining in a kind of continuous state of awe at the sight of these incredible ruins and the enormous trees that seem to grow happily through the carved stone.
By the time midday rolled around, we were exhausted and happy to be making our way back to town. We refuelled with a late breakfast/lunch at the hostels restaurant before heading back to bed to ensure our pillows didn’t float away.
That evening, we explored a few of the markets in and around pub street before joining the mayhem for a tour of the street itself. I can only imagine that it’s exactly what a street in magaluf would look like if you dropped it into Cambodia. Lots of noise, lights and tackiness.
We changed our minds about stopping for a beer and instead headed out of town to a local restaurant bar & grill. The food was great, super cheap and far from all things neon. We had some deep BBQ skewers, squid and couldn’t resist another amok fish. 🐟
The following morning and another early start had us heading to the airport. Time to say farewell to. cambodia as our shirt but sweet visit was at an end. Fingers crossed for that 90 day Thai visa stamp!! 🤞🏼