Gemma in front of Bayon
Getting our Cambodian visa in advance paid off and we crossed the Lao/Cambodian border with ease. We arrived by a shuttle bus taxi and went into a small wooden hut where our passports were stamped by Lao immigration officials. We then walked about a kilometre down wide gravel road with all our gear to the Cambodian side of the boarder. The wooden barrier was lifted for us and in we went to another wooden hut where our passports were stamped, we paid a small ‘administration’ fee for the service, a complete bride by the immigration officials but at only a few US Dollars we just paid it and got the stamp.
Once in Cambodia there was a bus waiting for us and after waiting a few hours for it to fill up we left the border at around mid-day, a long 12 hours later we arrived into Siem Reap. It was close to midnight and of course our bus driver knew just the place that would have a room for the night. Not having much choice we took the room but with only one pillow, no towels, unclean sheets, no window, and a barely functioning bathroom we checked
out the next day and moved on. This time to a guesthouse called garden village, the room wasn’t much (we had no curtains) but it was better than what we had just come from. The guesthouse was behind security gates, with a security guard no less and there was a pretty cool rooftop bar, which redeemed the lack of curtains in our room. We spent five nights here and we very much looked forward to seeing a few of the sights Cambodia is famous for.
Our first day was just spent wandering the city, finding our bearings and finding the hot spots for eating and drinking and are all very conveniently located on 'Bar Street' and we were very conveniently staying just off 'Bar Street' Coincidence? We think not! They also have a great night market here and we picked up a few bits and pieces. There seems to be a lot of oil paintings for sale, it’ll be hard to keep our money in our bank accounts here.
We set out for the famous Angkor Ruins the following day, we paid for a three day national park pass which cost us $40 US Dollar
Bayon in the massive Angkor Thom ancient city
each and off we went to explore. The ruins we saw just kept getting more and more spectacular, and even though we walked kilometre after kilometre in the humid SE Asian heat it was well worth it. The highlight of our first day was definitely Angkor Thom which is a 3km square ancient city that used to house over one million people. Left as a ruin by French explorers when they discovered it over a century ago it felt like we were walking through a city that time had literally forgotten. This was also where the film Tomb Raider was set and Stephen looked everywhere but there was no Angelina Jolie to be found. The next morning we returned to the ruins early for sunrise over Angkor Wat, we were up at 4.30am and braved the taxi ride through Siem Reap as there are no street lights and most of the roads are dirt track. Sunrise was something very special and we felt privileged to witness it. We spent the day visiting any ruins we had failed to see the previous day, this time but hired tuk-tuk, we didn’t fancy another long walk two days in a row. The bonus
ste helping this huge fella out...
of being in a tuk-tuk meant that our driver was able to take us to some of the furthest ruins, so we got to see the much quieter Bantrey Srei and we even stopped off at a land mine museum on the way back to Siem Reap which was very educational.
We spent our evenings on bar street (surprise, surprise) and wandering around the night markets again, the temptation is almost too much. It is very difficult not to spend a fortune here, so we did spend a little more than anticipated but we have a great few souvenirs to send home. We had a Cambodian bar-be-que to finish our time in Siem Reap and Stephen tried out the snake, crocodile and ostrich, he thought it was very good; I was not as adventurous on the other hand. We also got a foot massage from a load of hungry fish in the night market, it’s about 50 tiny fish basically eating the dead skin off your feet, it tickles like crazy and it was so hard to keep our feet in the water but our feet felt great afterwards.
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