17.06.2011 - 25.06.2011 35 °C
Siem Reap is not what we expected. It is the ancient capital of Cambodia and boasts temples like Angkor Wat that are over 800 years old, and as such you imagine an old looking town. First of all, it is no older looking than any other city we’ve visited, secondly Pub Street is about as hip as it gets in Cambodia. The whole block surrounding Pub Street is a bustling tourist trap full of restaurants, night clubs, massage parlours, and bars.
^^ Siem Reap at night is especially beautiful
We had some time to kill here as it was our last stop before heading into Thailand to meet Ellie and Steven and we didn’t want to enter too early and waste our short Thai visa. So, what better to do in a city that boasts a ‘bar street’ than enjoy a few of the bars?
For the first 6 days we didn’t really do anything. First of all it was raining pretty much non-stop and when the rain did let off the thermometer would shoot up close to 40 degrees.
We got a fair few massages from a group called ‘Seeing Hands’, they are all blind and this organisation gives them work massaging, plus they were really good.
^^ Feasting on my dead foot skin
^^ It's ticklish
^^ Our $7 per night accommodation
^^ We also saw a traditional Khmer dancing show
Kirby did a cooking class which she really enjoyed; she learnt how to cook a peanut curry, a green mango salad, and a bean pudding. The best thing was she got to eat it all at the end of the class, and because the class only cost $10 it was cheaper than when we had ordered it at the same restaurant the night before, go figure, oh and also she got a free shirt that stated ‘Proud to be Khmer’ – we gave it to a tuk tuk driver.
^^ Cooking ace
We also tried finding a swimming pool because it was sooooooo hot, although the cheapest one we could find wanted $16 for the day! Our hotel only cost $7 per night, so we decided to skip the pool and just stay around air-con.
We also discovered that in Cambodia they don’t have enough TV ads. So when a show goes to an ad break they show 1 or 2 ads and then an ‘intermission’ screen appears along with accompanying ‘elevator’ music; a world away from the ad-infected TV at home.
^^ Delicious bugs on sale
Finally on the 23rd we headed out to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple complexes. It was an awesome experience, the air was thick with history and we had to pinch ourselves to actually believe we were visiting an ancient wonder of the world!
The temples have many strange carvings and characteristics that obviously arise when you swap from being a Hindu temple worshipping Vishnu to being a Buddhist temple, however nothing can draw from the amazing architecture and awe inspiring skill that the Khmer builders possessed. A fun fact is that the binding material used in the construction is still yet to be identified by modern science.
It’s hard to put into words how cool it was to be visiting such an amazing place. Definitely weren’t disappointed!
^^ Lost in the ruins
^^ Carvings decorate all the walls
^^ Polished boobs - apparently everyone likes to touch them
That afternoon we got another massage each and purchased our $9 bus tickets to Bangkok!
Our last day in Cambodia we spent at the markets in Siem Reap; a bit of fun bargaining with the locals. Kirby picked up a camera bag, and I got myself what I’m calling an ‘asian’ style shirt .
^^ The markets have anything you could possibly want
The journey to Bangkok was rather uneventful, which I guess is a good thing when border crossing are concerned, especially with the recent tensions between the Thai and Cambodian military.
The bus dropped us off at Poipet on Cambodia’s side and we walked across the border. The no-mans-land of approximately 100 meters is the home to possibly the world’s dodgiest casino. We didn’t stop and have a look, as gambling in land owned by no one freaks me out for some reason. After we passed through Thai immigration and received our 15 day visa (yes only 15 days when entering via land – sucks) we were shuffled into a mini bus and taken to a nearby restaurant where we had to sit for an hour (and purchase food/drinks from the drivers aunties restaurant). After the driver was satisfied the group had spent enough on his auntie’s overpriced food and drink it was on to an 18 lane highway straight into the heart of Bangkok!