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  • katycillis

Oh Cambodia

A few years ago I would have raised an eyebrow or two at someone who would say they were travelling to Cambodia. I had nothing against the country or the people, I had a personal problem with culture shock. I had barely been outside my safe front door, barely walked down the safety of my easy well known Canadian streets. I grew up getting used to stop signs, stop lights, regular traffic rules, food only bought in restaurants unless you're getting "street meat" after a night out in Toronto, which usually consisted of familiar food anyways. Cambodia to me was the complete opposite of my sheltered bubble of an existence. So when I took that crazy new path, and was asked if I would take a leap into an unknown yet beautiful adventure I said "screw it, what am I going to do, sit here for the rest of my life?". Siem Reap, Cambodia was stop #3 on my amazing two and a half week adventure around South East Asia.

When you get off the plane you hire either a bike or a Tuk Tuk to take you to your hotel. It's the only way to get around and it's quite the experience. The drivers are nice, and they know their way around the city. It's a bumpy open ride, so hold on to your personal bags tight. We stayed at a family run hostel called the Jasmine Lodge. While the rooms were incredibly cheap, I must say I was impressed with the accommodations. The room was large and there was a private bathroom. We were placed on what felt like the 50th floor, so walking up and down everyday was not the best. Oh, and and no real hot water in the shower so it was a brisk wake me up every time I wanted to get clean.

We were about a 10 minute walk from the infamous Pub Street, a local bar scene filled with restaurants and bars where all the tourists come together for a long, loud and cheap night out. Here you can find amazing fruit shakes, ice cream, local foods and little shops with paintings and souvenirs. Beer filled margaritas were apparently our go to, about 6 or 7 of them later we we're zig zagging around the streets looking for food before passing out at 3am. Not the best idea seeing as we were doing a Angkor Wat Temple Tour at 6am! We did find a restaurant called Red Angkor, which we liked so much we ate there everyday. How could you not when two giant plates of noodles, an appetizer, two beers and two fruit shakes only comes up to $11 USD with tip??

I could live off those noodles too. I think about them everyday.....

Now on to the main event. The main reason we decided specifically on Siem Reap. Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a Buddhist Temple complex in Cambodia and is the largest religious monument in the world. It was recommended to us to do the sunrise tour, so naturally we gave our Tuk Tuk driver $10 USD (by the way they deal only in US dollars in Cambodia which makes conversion super easy!) to pick us up at 5am drive us in the pitch dark through a forest and drop us and about the 70 other tourist off to blindly guide ourselves to the sunrise watch point. We waited, and waited, and waited as the sun slowly crept over the horizon revealing the magnificent temple to us, while everyone (including myself) snapped about 500 photos each looking for that Kodak moment. I can tell you this, it was not worth getting up at 5am. The sunrise was slow, the colours we're muted, and the pictures didn't wow me. In hindsight I would have probably tried sunset instead, seeing as we decided to drink ourselves silly the night before, I did not feel the best that morning either.

Also, bring a selfie stick long enough to avoid everyones picture taking.

After waiting for the sunrise it was time to walk through the temple. Make sure you wear long pants and t-shirts if you want to enter the Temple. The morning did make for a beautiful landscape I will say. The colours and architecture of this place really took my breathe away. It is amazing to think of the people who lived here those hundreds of years ago and their lifestyle being so different from our own. Touring Angkor Wat did not take much time at all. Once I got enough pictures I was hungry and tired and ready to go back. Many people opt to tour all the other Temples in the complex, but for me I had seen one, I had seen them all.

I am very happy we left when we did, upon walking back to the main entrance we were greeted by a family of wild monkeys. At this point I had realized our blind dark walk to the temple was actually right beside a dense jungle (wild cats? probably). The monkeys were all over the tourists, running around playfully looking for food. I got close enough just to take some amazing photos and see them up close. I was not brave enough to feed let alone let one of them climb all over my like another woman did.

Picture perfect to say the least and a great way to end the morning. After taking a much needed late morning nap, we wandered the streets of Siem Reap, enjoying coffee, lunch and little bit of shopping before heading the next day to our next destination Phuket, Thailand.

Coffee in Cambodia is absolutely amazing. We found a coffee shop called Gelato at Fifty5 which had wonderful breakfast and lunch options and delicious iced and hot coffees. Another place we frequented on this part of the journey. We did tend to find good restaurants and stick to them, you like what you like right? We ended the trip at the same bar we were at the night before, sticking to only a couple drinks each before calling it an early night to be up for our 8am flight the next morning. I can't say enough about Siem Reap, but I can say its worth your time to visit, even if its for a short time like us. Two days later and onto the next destination......


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