This sneak preview photo probably killed you with anticipation.
Or not. Whatever. I'd like to think that the world revolves around me, sometimes. Don't you? No? Fine. Moving on.
Okay, so last December, my girlfriends and I took a 4D3N trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Flight tickets were about RM600, including my KK-KL tickets. Think we got a good deal as I remember waking up at 12 a.m. and staying up until 2 a.m. just to get those damn cheap tickets during the AirAsia big sales.
Anyhoo. Why Siem Reap? 'Coz my two jetsetter friends have been to most parts of Asia except Cambodia. Plus there's Angkor Wat - the eighth Wonder of The World. Or seven, in some parts of Google. Doesn't matter,
So here's an account of this mythical, always mistaken country. (Countless people thought I went to either Vietnam, Thailand or Myanmar. Not once did they mention Cambodia.)
We arrived at Siem Reap International Airport at the break of dawn. Our flight from KL was at 6.50 a.m. for fuck's sake. Flight was about 2 hours, but the time zone there is one hour behind.
Cambodia is rich with culture, and they are damn proud of their artsy fartsy wonders, and their ability to preserve it. Even their airport itself is a piece of art, albeit small.
Since we took a 4D3N free and easy tour from Airasiago.com, the paranoia of the tour guide NOT being there and being ripped of was there. But of course, AirAsiago is a reputable travel agent so as we stepped out of the airport, we saw what was waiting for us.
We were then brought to our hotel, Lin Ratanak Angkor Hotel.
It's a 3 star, yet super comfortable.
After messing up the beds and camwhoring ourselves silly, we hired a tuk-tuk to bring us anywhere our hearts desire to go for $15, if I'm not mistaken. This trip was 3 months ago, so I can't quite recall all the details. And oh yeah, the currency used here is US dollar. They do use their own currency, which is Cambodian Riel, but since half the population here is tourists, US dollar is the way to go. It's also easier to count and convert your money, compare to using Riel, $1 = 4000KHR = MYR3. If you are cheapskates like us, you will be constantly multiplying your dollars into 3s whenever you want to buy something.
Forgive my digression. This is a tuk-tuk.
The first destination we went was Tonle Sap Lake, where the floating village is.
The road towards there was of course, an abomination.
It was bumpy, dusty and dangerous. If you are 30 days late of having your period, you will get your period right away.
About 20 minutes later, we reached the outskirts of the town. A village surrounded by a vast oceanic lake, the Great Tonle Sap Lake. I believe you sort of read about this lake in your Geography text book.
We then hopped on a boat to go to the Floating Village.
We also got the chance to drive the boat.
...For like 15 seconds. It was the scariest driving experience ever. Can't even top that time when my car when auto-pilot. The boat felt like it was going to topple any time. Plus we had no life jackets on. I didn't even get a sim card to call my mom. Drowning in the biggest lake in South East Asia due to a dumb attempt to drive a boat that uses ropes as accelerator and gear is not the best way to meet your maker.
Luckily our boat driver came into his senses and took the wheels back. We then saw a lone boatman in the middle of vast lake, rowing like boss.
We have finally arrived the Floating Village.
The village is literally floating in the middle of the great lake. And what does this village has to offer?
A floating house.
A floating sundry shop (with a headless man?)
A floating information centre/cafe/gift shop
A floating school.
A floating basketball court.
And my personal favourite:
A floating pig farm!
There were also floating police stations, clinics and karaoke bars. And floating beggars too.
Poverty is one of the issues here in Cambodia. We were told by the guide to ignore beggars. child beggars especially, as this would only encourage them to stay out of school. Despite their dark history of genocide and due to the rampage of human trafficking and child prostitution, they care deeply towards their children. There are lots of schools, orphanage and hospitals built for these kids.
Never in our life would we thought of doing something good for once while travelling.
We donated food and money to the floating school/orphanage. In fact, the only way this school can survive is by the kindness of tourists with souls.
Now I get why Angelina Jolie wanted to adopt a child from here. Maddox, that lucky bastard.
These kids have no parents, live on charity and are stuck in the middle of a lake. Makes you think how spoilt and ungrateful our Malaysian kids are.
The teachers here teach voluntarily, while wearing neat, formal clothes. Makes you think how spoilt and ungrateful our Malaysian teachers are. Also their stray dogs are super cute. Look at the doggie. Forget I just made that remark about Malaysian teachers. Just keep your eyes on the doggie.
|Meanwhile, a teacher in a school in Cambodia...|
That's how huge the lake is. Like a fucking ocean.
Then we went back to town.
The next thing we did was going to The Old Market to buy souvenirs. It was only our first day yet we were already buying souvenirs. We had so much time to kill, so we just thought, why the hell not.
It's basically like your average flea market where you have to bargain to death to get a good price. Some vendors were pretty ruthless though, like grabbing your arm and scoffing at you when you don't buy. Those normal stuffs. We had to converse in Malay so that they won't understand us.
When we were done with our shopping, we went to some random restaurant to find something to eat.
Then I saw something awesome.
$1 BEER! Booze here is fucking cheap. Made a mental reminder to take advantage of it. For lunch, we had some Khmer Fried Rice. We also ate their must-try Khmer spring rolls. Khmer is a race in Cambodia, in case you're that ignorant.
|WHAT HAVE BEEN SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN|
While enjoying our food, it poured like mad. Our tuk-tuk driver had to pull down the shades of the vehicle in which made us go, "Oh, now that's what it's for."
And oh, this is what the town looks like.
Siem Reap is really just a small town.
Our next destination is The Killing Fields 'coz that's one of the touristy sites to go in Siem Reap. Here, we get a glimpse of the Khmer Rouge dark history under Pol Pot's regime. He's pretty much like Hitler, going on a mad killing/torturing spree of people who are deemed 'smart'.
Since we came here on our own, without a guide, we surreptitiously join other tour groups to listen in a few history lessons. Teehee.
We then head to the mall in Siem Reap. I say 'the' mall because there is only one mall here. And why are we so dumb to go to a mall when travelling? Because there's nothing much to do here. We've already went to the major tourist sites (not including Angkor Wat). Do I have to stress again how small Siem Reap is? It's even barely a mall. More like Giant.
We did our 'food' souvenir shopping here, buying food that aren't available back home like Khmer pork instant noodles and Cheetos. And of course the $1 beer.
|Angkor vs Anchor - Tomato ToMAHto?|
Day 2 is our Angkor Wat tour under AirAsiago. Angkor Wat is actually a temple complex. Here, there are hundreds of templea and you need more than three days to see ALL of the temples. If you are a history buff, that is. Therefore, in Angkor Wat, you can see amazing temple ruins with mind blowingly intricate artistic designs. Your eyes will bleed with all the photos I post here. Ready? Let's go!
First of all, to enter, you need a pass. You have to stand in front of an inconspicuous camera to get your photo taken for the pass.
Then, the eye orgasm begins.
This used to be the greatest empire/civilisation in the whole wide world. And now we're standing on its ruins. How cool is that?
This used to be a royal lobby. No shit.
In the temples are bas reliefs. Bas reliefs are carvings on the wall that depict either myth or historical events of that era. And mind you, these temples were erected like, oh I don't know, a thousand years ago?
The designs are effing intricate and it makes you wonder how on earth these people with rudimentary tools did it. Some geniuses with PhDs suggested aliens, but who knows, right?
|Carving of a traditional dancer|
There's even a dinosaur being carved in! Could it be that they'd SEEN dinosaurs?! Ugh, jealous.
Inside the temples, there are also statutes of deities and Buddhist shrines.
I'm pretty sure this place will creep you out if you were alone at night here. Another famous temple here is the Smiling Face Temple. And I just made up that name because I can't for my life recall its name.
And there are smiling faces every where! In which is pretty magnificent, and magnificently creepy.
Click on photo to scare yourself.
Nevertheless, we had our fun taking silly photos.
Me making out with Smiling Face
Me looking forlornly at Smiling Face
And oh, did I mention that this was where the movie Tomb Raider was shot? Now die of envy!
Spot the Lara Croft wannabe!
We were supposed to a see fabulous sunset view from Angkor Wat, but the weather was an ass. Our tour guide brought us instead to other touristy sites like soap, silk and art factories, WTF. Well, that's the price we pay for being in a tour group. Yeah, we were put together with another group of old ladies from KL. Soaps and silks apparently excites them.
Later that night, we went on our own to The Night Market, where you can get souvenirs, again.
Also, we went to the infamous Pub Street.
Where the whole stretch of street is full of pubs and bars. They even closed down the road, and barricade it with police to ensure the tourists' safety. Also, ONLY tourists are allowed here. It's a pretty double standard thing, but hey, I guess the locals don't mind as long as their country makes money out of it.
And of course, we had to go to the best pub in in town - Temple Club, as approved by Lonely Planet.
If there is something awesomer than $1 beer, it's got to be 50 cents beer. But what's even more awesomer than 50 cents beer? $2 cocktails! *faints*. But seriously. Proof:
A Sex On A Beach, Margarita, AK47 and Long Island Tea for just $8 = RM24. *Dies*
Did I tell you how small Siem Reap is? Well, believe it or not, we spent the whole day onlining in our hotel room, only going out for lunch and dinner.
|Traditional Khmer dish: Amok and something something|
|I think this BBQ is traditionally Cambodian too. I think.|
Too bad I had a cold, 'coz I really wanted to get wasted. I mean, c'mon. $1 beer. That's gotta mean something.
And oh, I almost forget to tell you about the best ice cream in the whole wide world:
Bailey's flavoured ice cream. What a gem!
All in all, we had a great time sight seeing, as always. I'd recommend you to visit Cambodia once in your lifetime ('coz that's as many times I'd go) to see the magnificent Angkor Wat. Here are some tips and info that you should know:
- Get a tour guide to take you to Angkor Wat. Your trip will be meaningless if you don't know the back stories of it.
- 3D2N is just enough to experience Siem Reap. Unless you are a historian, an architect and a photographer, you'd wanna stay longer.
- Currency's in US dollar, but they do use Riel. You won't be spending much anyway, unless it's on souvenirs.
- Cambodia may be a third world country, but Siem Reap is relatively safe. They appreciate their tourists, as this is one of their sources of income. Still, don't be stupid to take your life/belongings for granted.
- Since there are lots of tourists, the locals do understand a bit English. Even the beggars know how to beg in English. But of course, their English isn't perfect.
- Ride a tuk-tuk. Don't care if you eat dust. Just ride it like boss.
- I don't have to tell you what to about the $1 beer, do I?
I also recommend you to book a tour through AirAsiago. It's much safer. Our 4D3N Free and Easy tour costs RM187 (hotel + airport transfer), and our Angkor Wat day tour was RM160. You can get cheaper deals through the many travel agents, but of course, there's a risk of being conned.
Just PM me if you have any questions about Siem Reap should you plan to go there someday.
So that's the story of my Cambodian voyage.
And no, I didn't adopt a child.