Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cambodia 2017: Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

On November 4th, in the evening I came by a comfy bus to Siem Reap. The city itself is a capital of Siem Reap Province and a popular resort for visiting Angkor region. The weather was cloudy and also the forecast for next days announced constant rain. For a guy who worked 6 years in foggy Donauwörth in Germany and drove a bike on a daily basis in a snow or rain to get to work, I really did not care. Nevertheless the forecast here is as bad as in Europe and most of the stay I had a sunny or cloudy weather without any showers. I planned to stay 5 days, relax, read, do sport and enjoy the famous Angkor Wat temple and several others ones. Well, all that region and mainly the temples themselve are the main reason why many people are heading to Cambodia. And they are really spectacular, breathtaking.

The hostel I chose was located 200 meters from Pub Street and Night Market so pretty in the centre of Siem Reap. Despite its position the prices of accomodation here is really low, starting on 4 USD/night (3,50 EUR). I made few new friends including a girl from Germany who knows Donauwörth and has been born on the same day and month as me. Sometimes the world is small and full of coincidence.

The Pub Street itself starts to be alive in the evenings. Many stalls along the street offer coctails and playing music from YouTube via connected laptop and as everywhere else you can hear often a Despacito song that has already over 4,5 billion views on YouTube. Everywhere you go, you see massage clubs where for as low as for 1 USD (0,90 EUR) you are offered a 30-minutes foot massage, for a little bit more a back massage and if you refuse even that and you are a man, you are offered even more with no shame. On the night market you can buy almost anything you want but mainly all is about the location and temples themselves including posters, cups, magnets, t-shirts, postcards and many other. That reminds me that I still need to buy some Angkor magnet for the fridge and send few postcards back to Europe.

On the third day I rent a bike, being ready to visit all the temples. I woke up already at 2:30 without an alarm, did my fitness training because I wanna stay cool, took a cup of coffee and at 4:30 was ready to start the journey. The first temple is about 8 km far and you need to go through forest with no street lights. It was funny drive indeed, trying to see a concrete in front of me using a light from the phone. Once I reached Angkor Wat spot I was being asked for a ticket. What a surprise to find out that the ticket office is back in the city and you are not able to buy a ticket directly on place. The day started to be even funnier. I drove back to the ticket center but not being sure to catch the sunrise back in Angkor Wat, I postponed my visit for the next day and did the sightseeing in the city instead. Anyway having a ticket office in the city might make sense because it covers all the temples around and for each you need to show the ticket.

The day after I was ready not to do the same mistake. I took a bike, drove to the ticket office first, bought a 1-day ticket for 37 USD (31,90 EUR) and just after I drove towards Angkor Wat temple. The sunrise was amazing despite many tourists having the same idea as me. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, measuring 162 hectares. Originally it was built as a Hindu temple but later on modified into Buddhist one and has become a symbol of Cambodia. Nowadays it is appearing on its national flag.

Taking a bike I drove to visit Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, Jayatataka, East Baray, Prae Roup Temple, Banteay Kdei Temple finishing with Ta Prohm temple where the famous Tomb Raider movie was filmed. Coming back to the hostel, I did 47 km on a bike that was probably used by some grandmother for a weekend grocery shopping. But it was fun. Rental fee 2 USD/day (1,70 EUR) as well. Time for photos filtering, I made about 1000 of them.

One more day of chillout, nice talks with travellers from UK and Philippines, reading and planning and I am heading back to Phnom Penh for 2 days before going to southern part of Cambodia to enjoy seaside and sandy beaches of Sihanoukville, Otres beach and few islands. Bus was booked online to get to Phnom Penh and it cost 5 USD (4,30 EUR). One of the traveller from hostel joined me on that trip. We took a walk from the hostel to get to the place described in the bus description but once getting there, nothing but the market. After few chats with locals we were pointed to the 3 km far bus station, piece of cake for a tuktuk. Once reached, the bus guy told us that he manages only non-online tickets and we need to go back 4 km to the city where the company office is located and the bus initially starts its way. Alright. Why not. Another tuktuk, another long minutes, another dollars, 15 minutes delay. I called the agency to wait for next few minutes. We arrived to the office, paid tuktuk and got into the bus. What a surprise to see that in next 15 minutes we arrived to the same bus station from which we were sent to the city just 30 minutes ago. But still, lovely stay I had. Good bye Siem Reap.

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