When we arrived in Beijing from Seattle, Hong Kong Airlines refused to give us our boarding passes unless we had a flight out of Thailand. Conclusion: here’s Julie and Dennis booking a random flight to Cambodia from Bangkok. And you know what? It was the best decision ever.
We ended up paying less than $100 or the two of us with 20kgs luggage (Dennis had 23kgs and they did not even care!) and a snack on board. It might have cost us a bit more money to travel down from Pai to Bangkok and then fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia, but I’ll be honest with you, our hilarious minibus driver from Pai to Chiang Mai and the sunset onboard of the train were worth every extra penny. It’s not everyday your driver makes chicken noises for the whole ride, and then you get to see the most fantastic sunset on board of a sleeper train crossing Northern Thailand…
Anyway! Once on Cambodian grounds, everything went really smoothly. It took us 10 minutes (and $40) to get our Cambodian visa (and it’s beautiful) and then we were out of the aiport. Thanks to the Rough Guide (and Tripadvisor) I had booked 2 beds in a dorm at The Siem Reap Hostel for $8 each, including AC, swimming pool, great tours ready to book, tuk tuks working for the guesthouse, board games, yoga, foosball, pool, books and loads of other cool things. But most importantly: free pick up from the aiport, which is about 8km away from town.
The ride was nice, and we already saw so many kids out of school and looking hungry and calling us. We knew Cambodia was significantly poorer than Thailand, but we did not expect such a slap in the face.
We arrived at our hostel, paid and settled in our dorm: 10 beds, and a lot of lovely people! Straight away we all discussed where had been and where to go and what to do and where to stay and everybody was exchanging notebooks and sticky notes and ideas and tips and advice. It was great.
We went downstairs where the pool and the restaurant/bar is and started chatting to 2 Australian girls with whom we got along really well. The next day we decided that on Friday we would go see the sunrise on Angkor Wat with them. They are really interesting people, it was nice sticking around with them for a couple of days and it’s a shame they’re not headed south to Sihanoukville with us! But we get it, Vietnam is super cool. And cooler than us. We get it.
The next morning, Thursday, we decided to have a relaxing day. We hit the old market and bought loads of fruits to make fruit salad to pack for Angkor Wat the next day.
I am starting to really enjoying bargaining everything, and we managed to get lychees, bananas, a dragon fruit and two mangos for $6!
We then went for food at Sister Srey, which a cafe with excellent food, and a part of their earning goes to their charity which help boys and girls to go to school and university. Excellent food and excellent cause: you guys got us at ”cheesecake”.
After that, we made our way to Jodie and Johannes’ guesthouse to say hi! We grabbed a drink with them and then went to the Temple Bar on Pub Street to see traditional Khmer dancers. We headed off around 10pm and went to sleep, as the next would be very long and intense.
Friday morning, we woke up at 4:30am and a tuk tuk was the four of us to go see the sunrise on Angkor Wat. We decided to do the small circuit which allowed us to see the sunrise on Angkor Wat, then Angkor Thom and finally Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider Temple).
Angkor Wat is obviously magnificent, especially at sunrise (and sunset, I guess). There is something magical and mystically about this place, especially at this time of the day, with these colours. I wish I had read about the temples before going there, because I felt I was missing out on the historical and religious aspect of the place. Homework to do for when I get home!
Our next stop was Angkor Thom. Absolutely stunning and very large, it is one of the temples with the biggest park. You can wander around and take your time. It has a very soothing atmosphere because it is so big that you don’t feel surrounded by tourists.
Finally, we went to Ta Prohm, also called the Tomb Raider Temple because this is where some scenes from the movie are based on. It was beautiful, but honestly there were so many tourists that it was difficult to enjoy our time there. So we went around pretty fast, took a few pictures and went back to our tuk tuk.
We then went back to our hostel and headed to the Peace Cafe to have lunch and a juice. We had a lovely time, and then Jodie, Johaness and Matt joined us there as well.
In the evening we went to the Siem Reap Pub Crawl: $7 for a T-shirt and 4 drinks. Definitely a cool thing to do to socialise whilst in Siem Reap.
The next day we rested a lot, and we thought my SD card had lost ALL the pictures from when we left (my heart stopped for a few seconds), so we spent most day trying to fix it. And Dennis succeeded! Hooray! What a super hero.
In the evening we went to Sister Srey again with Sophie and a girl from New Zealand whose name I forgot.
We went back to the hostel and blogged a little bit and then went to bed.
We are going to Sihanoukville on Monday night and will get there Tuesday. Don’t worry, we will keep you posted!