We had a fantastic time in Siem Reap, despite the fact that all of us took turns being sick… I was the lucky one, with minimal symptoms that were likely caused by the stress of feeling like I was next.
In contrast to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap is a sleepy little town, but incredibly tourist friendly. You can’t walk too far without someone offering you a ride in their moto-rickshaw. We spent four days here, staying at the Green Town Guesthouse (which I would not recommend – the owners are incredibly unfriendly, the food was bad, and the bathroom smelled pretty horrible.)
We were fortunate to have a wonderful driver, named John. He knew exactly where to take us, and listened carefully when we expressed our desire to see some of the smaller, less crowded temples (after the first afternoon… read on).
We spent most of our first day relaxing and catching up on rest, while Jacquie was unfortunately quite ill. Beth and I headed out for our first temple experience that afternoon, to see the sunset. John took us to the typical sunset spot (Phnom Bakheng)… and we were met with our first taste of tourist-mania. There were so many people there, you could barely find a place to sit, let alone stand! I was in awe, less of the temple, and more of the abundance of tourists. In terms of the temples, Phnom Bakheng is a great spot to catch a nice view, but it is less impressive than many of the other temples as most of it is covered in scaffolding and is under repair.
The view of the jungle on the walk back down was pretty beautiful, and it was nice to be back in the wilderness, with the sounds and smells of the jungle surrounding us.
On our first sightseeing day we went to the Floating Village (where I’m pretty sure we overpaid for our boat ride at $25 USD a person). The ride out to meet the boats was pretty long, with some wildly bumpy and dusty roads, but we got to see how Cambodians live outside the city.
We then went on a boat ride up the river to a large lake, passing many houses, boats, fishermen, and groups of children playing in the water. Sometimes I feel like I take too many pictures in particular situations, and not enough in others, but I prefer to whip out my camera when I’m feeling inspired and when I’m seeing something new and different. This boat ride was a photographer’s dream!
We arrived at a floating restaurant where we had a drink and a snack before (very carefully) getting in to a smaller boat. We were shown around the ‘floating forest’ before reboarding our original boat for the ride back.
That evening we combined dinner and a show at the Bayon Restaurant! For $12 USD a person we feasted on a wonderful buffet (but avoid the dessert table unless you really like flavourless gelatin), and were entertained by traditional Khmer puppet shows and dances!
I took far too many pictures and have way too much to talk about for Siem Reap, so the rest of the temples will come in another post!