Day 55 – last full day in Siem Reap

I’ve got about 3 days of stories in this blog because the internet at this hotel is just awful.

We departed for Siem Reap on Feb 2, on the way to the airport I suddenly realized how stupid I was – I didn’t bring enough money…after realizing that we had a two day guided tour to pay for in addition to spending money I realized what I brought wasn’t enough. Good thing I’m traveling with my aunt and two friends and I can just get an invoice from my aunt once we are back in Singapore. Once we arrived at the airport and got through immigration we had some lunch and waiting for our flight. The flight was about 2 hours and with the time difference we landed just after 4pm in Siem Reap. Once we arrived I had to get a visa and after obtaining the visa my aunt was wondering if airport transfer to hotel was included. I had zero clue as usual and told her I didn’t think so. Sure enough when we walked outside to see a number of locals holding up signs for pick up my name and my aunts name were on two signs. Thinking we were getting chauffeured by an air conditioned van or bus, we were absolutely shocked when the drivers led us over to their tuk-tuks. I laughed hysterically because my aunt and her two friends are used to staying at 5-star hotels and being picked up my drivers. I couldn’t stop laughing at one of my aunt’s friends face, absolutely priceless with how shocked and disgusted she looked. The ride was only about 15 mins and after that she was able to laugh at the fact that we got picked up in tuk-tuks. The hotel was another story…first of all the front desk guy really didn’t have a clue about what he was talking about, after settling into our rooms we quickly got ready before heading out for dinner. We went to an indochine restaurant that was close by. For those who do not know what indochine cuisine is, it’s food that originates in indochinese countries such as, Vietnamese, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, etc. We ordered amok soup which is a traditional Cambodian soup, we also ordered Cambodian fish soup, and a few other dishes. We chatted and ate for a couple hours before coming back to the hotel to rest for our early morning wake up.

Our day 2 of Siem Reap was the first day of our two-day guided tour. Our pick up time was 5am so that we could watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, at 4:30am when my aunt received an email from our tour guide he had rescheduled our pick up to 8am. This was annoying only because we had already woken up and gotten ready, luckily I was able to fall right back asleep. Around 7 we went down for breakfast and patiently awaited our tour guide to arrive. After giving him a little hell for rescheduling, we were on our way to Angkor Wat. This property is huge, there is so much to see and so much history behind the buildings and the carvings within the buildings. There is a giant moat that surrounds the entire Angkor Wat complex. They started construction on Angkor Wat in 1113 and completed the complex in 1150. The moat that surrounds the complex was completely man made, this giant moat was dug out by hand. I could go into more detail about the history and the carvings within the main Angkor temple but I won’t just yet. After exploring the first temple, we decided it was hot and we needed a drink and some snacks. We then proceeded to two more temples within the Angkor Wat complex. One of them had many buildings with smiling Buddhas on them – it was quite fascinating. This temple had many picture frame like windows where we could take pictures. There was one window we wanted to take a picture with, and I climbed up to where you enter the building so that you can reach the window. There was obviously a miscommunication because I thought I was suppose to go through one doorway and out another and I kept telling them that I couldn’t get there because there was a wall. Little did I know they meant the little window, which was right by the entryway. Once I poked my head out of the window I started dying laughing at how stupid I was and all the other tourists including my aunt and her friends were also laughing at how stupid I was. It’s a good thing I’m not that sensitive and I am able to laugh at myself. The last temple we visited before lunch was the site of the movie Tomb Raider, starring none other than Angelina Jolie, not that I cared that the movie was shot there because I’ve never seen it haha. The. It’s fascinating thing about this temple was that it was abandoned and not maintained, this allowed trees over time to grow over the temple walls, uprooting a mass amount of tiles and stones of the temple walls, the roots of these trees spread over top of the temple walls and through the ruins of the collapsed parts of the temple. For lunch we had some good local/traditional food. After lunch we went to see 1 of the many killing field sites in Cambodia. One thing I did not know was that there are about 10 000 killing field sites in Cambodia. I’m not sure how much people know about the Cambodian Killing Fields but it was definitely a traumatic event for the Cambodian people. The leader at the time was heavily influenced by the Vietnamese who wanted to rid Cambodia of its people so that Vietnam could take over the land. Brutal violence of this genocide/ethnic cleansing resulted in about 500 Cambodian people to survive. Every single person that died was documented by having a picture of their dead body taken. The site we visited had pictures of these sites and pictures of those who died in these killing fields. The site we visited had a pagoda, which contained the skulls and bones of ancestors of Cambodians who died in the killing fields. It is really quite a sad and traumatic time in Cambodian history. It was back to the hotel for a quick rest and shower before heading back out to watch the sunset on top of a mountain. We walked up the hill for about a kilometre before reaching the base of the temple where we were going to watch the sunset. We waited patiently in a sweaty, pushy and ultimately dangerous line to climb up to the top of this temple. To enter the temple shoulders and knees need to be covered. Part of the reason why this line took forever was because so many people were not dressed properly and had to find something to quickly cover their shoulders. I was wearing a long dress and brought a scarf to cover my shoulders. I ended up further in the line than my aunt and her friends, simply because I was taller than most people in the line, and I’ve experienced lining up to get into Phil’s so I know how to continuously sneak up in the line. I reached the front and it was my turn to climb the extremely steep stairs and once I got to the top I looked down to see if I could spot my aunt, I did and I don’t think she realized I was that far ahead. She looked up, confused that I was already at the top and started laughing. We were only on the top for about 30 mins before we decided we’d better get down before the whole lot of people were tumbling down the steep stairs. The sun was beautiful and though we didn’t see the sunset completely it was still beautiful and a nice experience. We proceeded to pub street after we walked back down to our driver. We walked and looked at the different restaurants to eat at on pub street and decided on one called Intouch restaurant, where we enjoyed fresh BBQ seafood. We headed to bed early for our 5:15am pick up

Day 3 of Siem Reap we had to be ready to leave the hotel by 5:15am. We were all downstairs and ready by 5:10 and our guide was late….he didn’t arrive until 5:30am. After being slightly aggravated for the second morning in a row we proceeded in silence to the Angkor Wat temple. It was very dark and we had to use our phone flash lights to lead the way. By the time we got to the temple it was about 5:45 and we had to wait about an hour for the sunrise… The place was packed and everyone stood taking pictures for the next hour. The sky seems slightly foggy and we were worried that we got up so early to see nothing, fortunately the orange yolk of the sun appeared at about 6:50am. After we saw the sunrise we went back to the safe cafe as day 2 and we had a delicious breakfast, I had eggs, bacon and toast and we all shared a bowl of pho noodles. After that we visited two more temples. One of the temples was in complete ruins. It was once surrounded by an active land mine site and occupied by the army up until 12 years ago when it was safe for tourists to visit this site. It was just absolutely incredible. After that we drove for about an hour to this little fishing village. On the way we saw many local Cambodian homes. All of these homes were built up on stilts, the families that occupy these homes use the shelter under the home as storage areas or to put their hammocks for shade. We arrived at a very small fishing village the houses were all raised on very high stilts due to the fact that during the rainy season the water level raises all the wait to the bottom of their homes and instead of driving around the village they have to travel by boat. We made our way through the village until we got to the spot where we had to board a local boat. The two Cambodians that drove us were young, one was 10 years old and the other had to be no older than 17 years old. We traveled to a floating village, all of the homes were boats, including the school and the church, it was an experienced. Unlike floating villages in Bangkok, which are very commercialized this floating village was not even close to being commercialized, so unexposed. After the floating boat we made our way back to Siem Reap for a traditional Khmer massage. If you’ve ever seen the movie taken you’ll understand my next reference, walking into the massage room was like walking into the rooms where they kept all the drugged up girls being sold for sex in the movie taken, it was a similar feeling. The narrow room contained 4 mattresses on the floor, separated only by curtains. It was the most ridiculous massage I’ve ever experienced, I have never been pulled, hit and twisted so much in my life. At one point the lady pulled up both my legs twisted them behind her back and stepped on my back. It was so bizarre. I got my back cracked and everything, the strangest part was that they gave you clothes to put on and they massaged you without lotion or oil. I literally felt like a piece of meat being marinated for dinner. Happy hour with some vodka soda’s before heading for dinner and seeing the night market. For dinner we had another Khmer BBQ dinner but it wasn’t as good as the night before dinner. After that we ventured to the night market and walked around after bargaining a little bit I bought two pairs of pants, a small purse, 4 scarves and two shot glasses for about $20. Before heading back to the hotel we stopped at a street stall for a banana crepe it was delicious and I added chocolate on mine!

Today is our last full day here and we will be getting an oil massage today and probably doing some more shopping and walking around.

Jenn

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