Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia
We arrived in Siem Reap in the evening after about a 6 hour bus journey. As soon as you get off the bus, tuktuk drivers surround you and instantly ask you where you are going, if you’ve booked accommodation and what you are doing tomorrow! As you are dropped in the middle of a car park in the dark, your only option is to get a tuktuk. We showed them our accommodation on Maps.Me and paid a few dollars each to take us there with our luggage. All four of us managed to cram in with our bags, now used to this kind of thing.
Our accommodation Kirin Marry Villa, was in the Muslim area and just a short walk out of the main streets. It was definitely slightly quieter but it was good value for money and the rooms were nice and clean with AC, fridge and TV; the staff were very friendly too.
Unfortunately, Jackie had her camera stolen on the bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, so Jackie and Luke spent the day finding a reputable camera shop and Ben and I wondered around the main town.
Whilst exploring, we walked past Stung Thmey Primary School, which had sign up which asked tourists to come and spend an hour or two teaching English to students. As we went closer to the gate to see if anyone was there to speak to, we could see it was break time. There were children playing and a little girl said it perfect English ‘Hello, how can I help you?!’ We were surprised to find some of the children spoke very good English. The girl told us with great authority to come back at 5pm to teach English!
When we went back to teach we met the teacher Paula, who was a tiny Cambodian lady with mediocre English. She led us to another classroom and left us in the deep end with a text book to read to the children and comprehension questions to answer. The children were so lively and half of them didn’t have the correct book or any book at all. They were very friendly but the boys were more interested in whacking each other with water bottles and rulers!
After a decent effort of slugging through the dry textbook (which was far too high pitched), we abandoned ship and played language games! Ben actually really enjoyed himself which was great, as he was initially only coming along for moral support!
After the lesson, Paula and another male teacher explained that they had a lack of teachers and the person coming to teach English had a problem with their visa so they missing structure in the classroom. They were both very grateful that we had stepped in.
We contacted a tuktuk driver who was recommended to us through some friends we made in Da Lat. Unfortunately, he had to cancel in the morning as his daughter was taken ill but he sent us a brilliant replacement. Ang Pisey, also known as ‘Pepsi’ was our tuktuk driver for the day (You can find him on Facebook!).
After helping us complete a few jobs in the town, Pepsi suggested we first buy our ticket then we could come and go as we please. He took us to the ticket office and you can either choose from: a one day pass for $20, three day pass for $40 or a week pass for $70. We were also told the price was set to increase next month so we were lucky. They take a quick photo of you and print out your ticket.
Pepsi advised us to do the ‘big tour’ in our first day and watch the sunset on the mountain, then do Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple and Ta Pro ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ on our next day.
On our second day, we were picked up at 5am from our hotel and headed with the crowds to see sunrise at Angkor Wat. As you are driving to Angkor Wat, it’s like a playstation game with other tuktuks racing next to you and weaving in and out of buses and mini vans! Once there, you follow flow of people making their way from the parked vehicles to the temple, not knowing where you are but trust the sea of the phone lights know where they are going.
There are two pools opposite the temple and the one of the left is the most popular as it has lotus growing in the pond and is framed by slabs. The other pond is more like a big puddle but is probably a better option as the main one is PACKED! We made a beeline for the main pool on the left, and moved to the left hand side of the pool where it was not so condensed with selfie sticks and jostling elbows.
Our favourite day by far was the second day, we got to the best temples are really enjoyed these as they stood out from the rest. After trudging around hundreds of temples, they all seem to feel a bit similar, spectacular non the less but as the phrase is so well put…’same same but different!’.
We stayed a few extra days in Siem Reap to chill and recover from our hard core temple stomping. We strolled around, relaxed in cafes and generally took it easy. This is when we really felt at home in Siem Reap, greeted by smiling faces on every corner and finding new things to see each time.
Temple Café (V Design)-lovely relaxed café on Pub Street with great interior design, nice western food and AMAZING coffee- free wifi
Footprints Café– gorgeous hipster café who give back to the local community, opened November 2016; delicious food-free wifi
Café Indochine Siem Reap– lovely colonial style building, previous used for the UNESCO office, nice Khmer food and a very decent price compared to how nice it looks you’d think it would be more expensive-free wifi
Turkish Kebab stand (outside the big supermarket at the south end of pub street! Rnage from $2-$4
Hot Rod, Authentic Thai– chic interior which looks more like a club, great Thai food however you pay the price- free wifi
- Angkor Complex Ticket: One day pass: $20, Three day pass: $40, One week pass: $70-PLEASE NOTE: this is set to increase some time in February 2017.
- Tuktuk driver for the day: approx. $5 a head.
- Getting around in Siem Reap you tend to pay $1-$2 for a tuktuk ride.