I checked into the Central Hostel in Siam Reap. I had booked one night, but once I had seen the place, especially the dorm and the bathroom, I added 3 more. It was nice and clean, it was pretty central and the staff was very friendly. The pool was not very welcoming though. Once I had settled in, I walked around
and went to Circus Phare to get a ticket for Tuesday and treated myself to a 30 min foot massage for $2 on the way back. The rest of the day I got things organized including a driver and two girls to share the tuktuk with for the next day. Another traveler had recommended a driver named Borey to me and had given me his number. He was free the next day and we agreed on a price and tour for Sunday to explore Angkor Wat. If you want his number, send me a message.
Next morning at 8 Lena, Hannah and I got picked up by Borey. He was a young, nice guy, who worked as a tuktuk driver to make a living for his family and allow his kids to go to school. As a tuktuk driver he could earn more than in a profession he had a proper education for. Crazy! The tickets for Angkor Wat you only got at one place which was outside the city, but also far away from the temples. Probably another way to make money, since people need to pay for transport just to get a ticket. The tickets were quite expensive (1 day $37, 3 days $62) and since 1990 the temple complex is unfortunately not owned by the state but by a private company of the petroleum industry. Angkor Wat is a very important symbol for the Khmer culture and the Cambodian people. You can find a picture of it on the national flag, on banknotes and such. I got a 1-day ticket. In order to avoid people handing their ticket to somebody else, they print your name and picture on it. This temple complex is just huge, it is the biggest sacral building complex in the world! So it is impossible to see everything in one day, even not in three days. You can also get a week pass, but I have to say: at one point I have just seen enough temples! We first visited the temple Angkor Wat. We spent almost two hours in there.
Then we drove to Angkor Thom
with the temples Bayon,
Baphoun and the Elephant Terrace.
We had a cold fruit shake in the shade after before we visited the two small temples Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda.
There is one temple with the nick name “Tomb Raider temple”, officially named Ta Prohm. Nature is claiming back this temple and I loved the combination of buildings and trees!
We were all hungry so we went to the Jungle Restaurant for lunch. Borey managed to get a good discount for us. After we shortly visited Banteay Kdei before we walked up the hill to watch the sunset from Phnom Bakheng. They only let 300 people on top of the temple, so you have to get there rather early. We had to wait for ages, but the sunset was not very impressive. You couldn’t really see anything of the temple complex from up there.
Once we had walked back down Borey drove us back to the hostel. We had paid $25 for all three of us for the whole day including the sun set. Although we had a tuktuk we walked about 16 km that day. It was very hot and the place was full of Chinese. I was pretty knackered. It was a fantastic day though and I would definitely recommend to visit Angkor Wat! Just be aware that everything inside the temple complex is really high priced. I took a shower to wash the dust off and went to the night market for dinner.
I explored the Art Night market a bit and went back to the hostel for a quiet evening. The next day I walked around
searching for a tailor to fix the broken zipper of my belly bag. They put in a new one for $1. I had lunch close to the market, bought some pants and a t-shirt. After working on my blog for a couple of hours, I took a nap and a shower and took off to the Angkor What? Bar for the pub crawl. I had the information from a flyer at the hostel. When I got there, there was not much going on though and when I asked at the bar they told me they are not doing that anymore.
Guess they only do it in the main season. I met a German couple at the bar and had a beer with them. Then we left Pub Street to get some affordable food and drinks and played jenga in a nice bar.
The next morning I had breakfast in a nice French bistro, spent quite some time on my laptop, had a seeing hand massage for $7 and had dinner on the night market on my way to the circus. Circus Phare is the Cambodian answer to Cirque du Soleil. The school for this circus is in Battambang. They also have shows there, but the original one with the completely trained artist is in Siam Reap. Phare is so much more than a conventional circus, with an emphasis on performance art and a subtle yet striking social message behind each production. Many of the performers have deeply moving personal stories of abuse and suffering, making their talents a triumph against the odds. It really enjoyed the show and had a great evening with those young talented artists. Circus Phare is a must go, if you visit Siam Reap!
The city of Siam Reap is also a bit more expensive and very touristy, but very nice as well. If you stay out of the most touristy areas like Pub Street you can also find reasonable priced food, drinks, massages and stuff. The markets are great and I liked the atmosphere. Definitely a place you can stay a while, not just as a base for visiting Angkor Wat.
On the next day it was already time to say goodbye to Cambodia. After another breakfast at the nice French bistro close to my hostel, Borey picked me up and drove me to the airport. I had booked my flight over Opodo. When I booked, it showed the flight would include luggage, but when I got the ticket, there was no luggage all of a sudden plus the price in the end was also a lot higher than when I clicked on “book” on the homepage. Opodo is really great in hiding costs and ripping off customers combined with basically non-existent customer service! For days I had tried to fix this problem but without success. I thought well, then I have to add luggage at the airport. That will be more expensive than doing it upfront online, but still possible. Unfortunately the airline Cambodian Angkor Air doesn’t allow that and you have to pay by kilo. They were kind though and gave me a discount. I anyway had to pay $75 extra. Thanks Opodo! That was the second time I had problems booking with you and by far the most expensive one. Never ever I will use Opodo again to book anything!!! In the end I had to pay more than $200 for a 50 min flight. When I clicked on book it was like $95 including luggage.
Cambodia is definitely more than only Angkor Wat! There are some really nice places and there is a lot to learn about the history of this country. That part is not exactly easy, but I find it very important that we also learn about this. I have to admit that Cambodia is not on top of my favorite list for Southeast Asian countries, but mostly I had a great time! Aw-kun and Choum reap lear Cambodia!!!