My time in Siem Reap is something that I could not have ever imagined or planned. I had some unique and scary personal experiences. Upon arrival, I had been sick for about two weeks prior, so my trip started off a little different than I had expected.
And without further ado, Siem Reap through the eyes of the Wanderlusting Yogi …
Arriving at Siem Reap International Airport, you need to get your Visa on Arrival. It was a very simple process, that did not take long. You fill out a paper, pay $30 USD (which Cambodia uses America Dollars), and wait for your Visa. Piece of cake!
We waited outside for our tuk tuk driver to pick us up and take us to Siem Reap Hostel (included in the hostel price). Before even seeing our room, our driver took me to the Royal Angkor International Hospital and he gave me a 10% discount coupon on services. If only American hospitals gave discounts. I ended up getting admitted overnight from 10am-7pm.
Here is one of my battle wounds …
As scary as it sounds, the hospital staff was amazing and very attentive. The room was large and clean, with a refrigerator stocked with different beverages. My 33 hour detour had me feeling back to normal, which I was thankful for. They even had a hospital staff member drive me back to the hostel when I was discharged.
Finally I was back at The Siem Reap Hostel. It is about a five minute walk from the main tourist area, Pub Street. Pub Street is full of bars and restaurants. Mostly foreigners all on vacation. It is a very energetic and lively street. We walked around and found a place to eat and drink, and eventually watching people dancing in the street. It was a great first night out of the hospital.
Back at The Siem Reap Hostel, my friend and I booked a private room with a balcony, combined with breakfast ($34 USD a night). The breakfast included pancakes, cereal, toast, fruit, and drinks. One morning I ordered two fried eggs, bacon, and a baguette for $3.50 USD. Also bottled water is $.50 for a small, $1.00 for a substantially larger bottle. The larger bottle is definitely the better deal. The wifi was not great in the room, but there were computers in the lobby that you could use. There was a pool, a lot of lounge areas on every level, a movie center, yoga classes, and a three hour happy hour with 2 for 1 drinks. We extended our stay one night, and the only available room was the six female dorm with bathroom en-suite. The dorm did not provide towels and definitively did not seem as clean. I was happy to only have to spend one night like a college student, but it was cheaper. I guess you get what you pay for.
The next day our tuk tuk driver picked us up and we spent the day at the Angkor Wats, an UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately, it was a rainy, dreary day and that may have dampened the overall experience.
It was not as impressive as I thought it would be, but I am glad I was able to see the Wats. They usually say pictures don’t do things justice, but in this case, pictures seemed more thrilling. I only needed a one day ticket, but you can get up to a five day ticket. I would recommend five days if you want to hear the history of each and every Wat and to see every inch.
Ta Prohm is where the movie Tomb Raider was shot. It had massive trees over taking the Wats.
Bayon was my favorite of all the Wats. It had smiling faces carved into the stone. It was a happy place.
We ate lunch near Preah Khan with authentic Cambodian food, which was very good.
The next couple days we were free to explore Siem Reap. We had an amazing massage at Body Tune with essential oils and tea for $20 USD. Ate lunch at the very accommodating Yellow Mango Cafe. They let us eat in their private room with air conditioning and had happy hour from 12-7. Yellow Mango Cafe was a lovely place to cool down from shopping at the markets. I loved all the shopping, especially in the old market (Aladdin pants and elephant souvenirs). And remember, always ask for 50% less or walk away.
If you are up for a little food undertaking, try Ecstatic Pizza AKA “Happy Pizza.” I added two scoops of “herbs” to make the pizza happy. They call marijuana an herb so they legally get away with this type of pizza restaurant. Two scoops kicked in and lasted a long time. Let’s say climbing up and down to the top bunk was quite a humorous struggle.
The following day, our tuk tuk driver had invited us to join him and his family for dinner at his house.
He picked us up with his wife, son, and daughter, who did not speak English. We went to the local market to buy food and then went back to his house to cook together.
His house was an open, old boxing garage with an attached bedroom, which they all slept in (rent was $70 USD a month). We helped his wife prepare all the food and played with his children. He invited a few friends and family over and we all sat around eating and drinking beer. I was also praying I would not get sick again from all the salmonella that I was ingesting. However, it was the most authentic and eye-opening experience I have ever had. It was unbelievable how much fun you could have with people who do not speak a spec of your language. His wife kept motioning me to drink my beer faster. I did have Vuthy (tuk tuk driver) to explain how I had just got out of the hospital. Vuthy had named us Godmothers to his children. It was a perfect evening and a memory I will never forget.
The next day before our flight, Vuthy took us to get a massage where his sister works. We had met her at the dinner the previous night. Molis Ruot Spa and Massage was outside of town, but was actually more expensive ($25 USD). The massage in town was better and cheaper, so no need to venture out of town.
At the airport, through security, we ate lunch at FCC Angkor. We shared a cheeseburger($12) and calamari ($6). It was average tasting and expensive. I would recommend eating somewhere in town before heading to the airport to get some last minute Cambodian food.
Cambodia is full of generous and caring people and I hope you get a chance to explore this city one day.
Use American Dollars … no need to exchange to Cambodian Riel
TRAVEL INSURANCE! I used World Nomads
Always remember to bargain at the markets … shoot for 50% less