Cambodia Part 1

Arrival in Phnom Penh and the road to Siem Reap

We arrived in Phnom Penh late at night and went straight to our hotel (after getting the mentioned SIM-Card and forgetting my Passport at the network provider). The city is immersed in a stuffy atmosphere, heat and the need to breathe are following everywhere you go.
The morning after we got breakfast in a little café a few streets away and let the busy city life soak in. I’ve read a lot about sneaky thieves on their scooters rushing towards you, grabbing anything that’s in your hand or loosen on the back like camera/bag/phone and speeding away before you even know what was going on. First I got to mention: this didn’t happen to us, nor did we see it happen to someone else. But when we went to a small grocery store to buy a bottle of water, the concerned lady asked what we were doing in a place like this and we had to be careful of theft. After telling her that we would leave anyway in a few hours to Siem Reap, her face brightened up. That left us with a strange feeling about Phnom Penh sitting in a Giant Ibis Bus to Siem Reap. The ride took about 6 hours with a break.

Siem Reap is different.

Still busy, even dustier, but feels less crushing. To get a first impression, we declined all the tuk tuk drivers at the bus stop and walked by foot to our previously booked resort – which wasn’t as easy as planned. We ended up in a poor district with no paved roads, but red, muddy soil paths that were almost all flooded. After a long adventurous trip through the submerged boroughs we finally ended up at the Clay d’Angkor Spa & Resort, a beautiful place to stay amidst locals in what seems to be nowhere.

road to the Clay D'Angkor Resort & Spa

The first evening we wandered around in the Old Market area of Siem Reap. A Wat (Wat Preah Prom Rath) is found nearby, the Old Market itself and not too far away the nightlife Pub Street.

The market itself is full of little stands, selling everything from paintings and clothes to figurines and jewelry. Just behind the shops we had dinner in a small and cozy vegan restaurant (Chamkar – The Passage) which served us spring rolls and a curry. We also recommend the self-made ice-tea! We sat there for a while enjoying delicious food while seemingly everlasting heavy rain poured down right next to us.

Vegan Siem Reap
Vegan Curry at Chamkar
Siem Reap Pub Street
Siem Reap Pub Street

At night, Siem Reap shines up in all colors and dozens of streetfood stands are gathered up on the streets. We tried a fresh smoothie for 1$, which ended up super sweet. Taking a look over the mixed fruits on the stand, we saw why: the lady poured over 4 spoons of sugar in the blender and instead of the fresh coconut we ordered, she opened a can of coconutmilk that was probably sweetened, too. Therefore we can only recommend ordering what you’re sure to get: a whole coconut that’s opened in front of your eyes.

Siem Reap Street Food
Siem Reap Street Food

If you leave the area to the east over one of the bridges, you come across the Siem Reap Nightmarket which has a more artistic approach. Art like paintings and handmade sculptures are offered between the classic shirts and scarfs.

siem reap nightmarket
Siem Reap Nightmarket

Getting back to our stay made clear that every tuk tuk driver claimed to know the location of our resort, yet really didn’t. From then on we opened the maps.me app to navigate or just to make sure they weren’t going the wrong direction. It was also quite an adventure driving into the by now even more flooded, muddy streets in the dark.

Jim
Author

Cambodia Travel Log

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