A very late blog post on Siem Reap 2018


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March 24th 2019
Published: March 24th 2019
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The wait is over. Here is my very delayed blog post on an amazing time that I had in Siem Reap, December 2018.

After two short flights from Vientiane to Paske, with a landing that made me wonder if I would live to see another day, and then from Paske to Siem Reap, I finally arrived in Cambodia for the first time. There is always that fear of how the devil am I going to get to my hostel by myself from the airport in a country I have never been to but as per usual, it all went swell. After living in Vientiane with tuk tuks that have broken down or almost on fire due to pushing too hard, getting a tuk tuk in Siem Reap from the airport was a delightful treat. It looked absolutely glorious and it was more like Cinderella's carriage and soon enough, I was merrily on my way through the streets of Siem Reap to Onederz Hostel.

Knowing Cambodia was a third world country and still developing, I really didn't expect much from this hostel except a bed and hopefully a central location. Onederz Hostel definitely did not disappoint. At first, I was overwhelmed with the number of people there. It was intimidating to see so many people together in this open floor layout but I took a deep breath and just got on with life. After an extremely warm welcome from the staff and organising a tour to Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour for the next day, I chucked my stuff away in the dorm then came back downstairs and decided to plunge into the deep end and introduce myself to a group of people who were from America and were happy to have me join (at least this is what I told myself because as per usual, I just forced my friendship on them....) and everything started to seem less intimidating.

Being super close to Pub Street and the Night Markets, we decided to venture out that evening. It had a really relaxed but busy vibe full of like minded travellers... or so I thought. After a look through night market and forcing myself not to buy lots of unnecessary items, the group I was with wanted to find some Happy Pizza, something I don't condone but not into so I parted ways and ventured down pub street. The food there was absolutely divine and so incredibly cheap but after a day of travelling and looking round which involved a bit of walking I decided it was time to relax so I got myself a manicure then headed back to the hostel for an early night because I knew I had to be up for the sunrise tour at Angkor Wat at 4.30am, a very early start, something my body is not accustomed to.

I woke at 3.30am to the sound of Ed Sheeran internally groaning wishing I had chosen the sunset tour but had a gut feeling it would be worth the early morning wake up call. I went downstairs and grabbed myself some breaky. A group of us were going on this tour, too many that we couldn't all fit in the van so I ended up being placed in a tuk tuk with three others. One thing I hadn't been told was that it is a good idea to buy your Angkor Wat pass the day before so you don't have to wait in line in the morning to get your entrance ticket but luckily for me, it wasn't a long wait and soon we were on our way to Angkor Wat. There is one or three day pass you can buy but due to time limitations, I decided to go with the one day pass.

There was a bit of walking involved when we arrived as the tuk tuk dropped us off at the entrance which was fine but would've been a nightmare had we not had our cellphones for torches because the ground was a bit uneven and it was so dark that you could hardly see where you were going. Upon reflection, a small torchlight as to not waste phone battery would've been a great addition but we survived nonetheless.

When we arrived at the classic Angkor Wat sunrise photo spot, I was absolutely amazed...not by the grandeur of Angkor Wat itself but by the number of tourists already there. I thought we were early and there wouldn't be that many people there... how wrong I was. It felt a little like China where there are so many people fighting for the best seat on the subway but in this case, the best spot for a photo. In attempt to find a better spot and also some new friends, I started chatting to two British girls who were just as keen as I was to find the perfect spot. With their determination and will power, we found a really good spot and we settled in waiting for the sunrise.

It was around 6.30am when the sun began its spectacular show over Angkor Wat. Seeing it rise behind the temple and peaking through the cracks is a sight I will never forget that was absolutely worth all the fuss I felt I went through to get there. It was worth that early wake up call and lack of sleep. A photo was amazing but the sight in person is a whole other story that I highly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to go to Siem Reap.

After we had taken our photos, the girls and I joined the tour group once more. It was amazing how quickly and fast we clicked because before I knew it, we were having a blast walking around Angkor Wat, marveling at the pure majestic sight of it all. We were blessed by a monk while there and got given a bracelet that should supposedly bring good luck.

The rest of the day, we spent walking around various temples, being transported by tuk tuks (or van for the rest of the group as I mentioned earlier) between each different one. The day was meant to be a total of 6hours so a finish around 10.30am. After temple number 2, the feeling of tiredness was starting to sink in from the early morning start, and the day was beginning to heat up and we still had two more temples to visit. At the end of temple number three, I was so keen to leave. My legs were feeling like lead from all the walking (so highly recommend excellent walking shoes), I was so thirsty because it was so hot (bring lots of water), and after seeing Angkor Wat plus those other temples, I was getting a bit temple-d out and it was becoming more of a chore than an enjoyable tour. It was around 2pm we finally started making our way back. Many hours more than planned so you can imagine I was ready to do absolutely nothing but relax in the sun.

Overall, I really enjoyed the day but if I were to do it again, I would stay longer in Siem Reap and do it over a longer period of time so I wouldn't get to a point where I wanted to be back relaxing at the hostel and not caring about the next temple. Luckily for me, Onederz Hostel has two pools, one fantastic rooftop pool and one across the road so to relax and unwind after a long and trying but overall pretty great day, me and the girls went the roof top pool and lay in the sun which was fab way to end the day.

Luckily, this tour ended so early so after a few hours of resting by the pool, the friends I had made over the course of the day and at the poolside we decided it was time to get some food and a drink so we headed to a Mexican restaurant for a delicious burrito then to a rooftop bar for a couple of relaxing drinks. After getting a bit of a buzz, we found an arcade in the building we were in. We ended up playing various arcade games like shooting baskets, dance offs, and air hockey. It was an unexpected fun time! But it was definitely time for bed so we went back to the hostel to hit the hay.

Unfortunately, my time was limited in Siem Reap as I had already booked a flight in advance to Phomn Penh so I had no time to waste. Since I knew I would need the sleep in, I chose a tour that started later the next day. As I had just spent a whole day looking at temples, I was ready to see something different so I joined a tour group that would go see the floating village and a boat ride through mangroves that would lead us to watch the sunset over the massive lake in Siem Reap that I may or may not have mistaken to be the ocean due to lack of geographic knowledge....

My expectations for this tour were pretty low because how could it possibly top something like Angkor Wat. However, my it completed exceeded all expectations because after a long hard day of walking the day before, this tour had little to zero walking, we got a lovely proper boat ride around the floating villages seeing how locals live and then on a small boat made for three people we went through the mangroves which was just so peaceful and beautiful. Then to top it off, we had a glorious view of the sun setting over the lake with a couple of beers on the boat, or in my case, a delicious cold pepsi. I felt so peaceful and calm and just pure blissful happiness, again a moment the camera could not do justice but something I will continue to treasure.

Then sadly, it was time for me to depart. I packed up my belongings, said goodbye to the friends I had made but made plans to meet them on Koh Tao which was my next destination after Cambodia but first it was to Phomn Penh which I will go into detail into another exciting blog post. Stay tuned!

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19th May 2019

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