Cambodia Part 2
Siem Reap is the hub to the Angkor region, ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire. Stunning architecture surrounded by jungle and water didn’t only drew us to Angkor Wat, but also a few thousand other tourists.
After a refreshing coconut (those are in touristic places usually 1 $), we headed into the crowds and almost immediately regret our trip to the temples. Almost.
As between the thousands of people we found a few corners that were empty and thus the architecture and remarkable details could finally sink in. Groups of monks walked past us several times until we took the decision to leave for smaller and hopefully less cramped temples.
By foot we crossed various small ruins and ended up in a tuk tuk that should take us to Ta Prohm, an outstanding temple completely taken back by nature. The driver took us a stop ahead, the Banteay Kdei Temple, which we are really grateful for. This turned out to be the most fantastic one: ignored by the crowds, amidst the green jungle and just gorgeous to look at. Even the way to Banteay Kdei was stunning.
After roaming Banteay Kdei, we headed to Ta Prohm by foot, taking a break for a meal at the side of the road. We ordered fried rice with vegetables and made clear no to use oyster sauce.
Ta Prohm left us with mixed feelings.
It was exactly what we expected: roots all over the place, stones piled up and covered with moss, detailed walls with figures and all kind of signs hinting at an ancient civilization. Yet it seemed to be “under construction” – metal bars and wooden beams tried to hold up the place, preventing everything from falling apart. Or just to keep visitors at bay. Understandable, but it took away the feeling of exploring an old, strange temple and also lowered the number of photos we shot.
Back in Siem Reap we found us again in front of heavily flooded streets due to yesterday’s rain. I guess “sea” would be a better name…
Vegan Breakfast in Siem Reap
On the third day in Siem Reap, we had breakfast at the Peace Café, a somewhat hippy place with yoga classes and vegetarian/vegan food. Jessica was certainly satisfied with a sweet breakfast, as she was displeased with our resort’s offer in the morning: fried noodles or fried rice.
After pancakes, a fruit plate, a smoothie and packed lunch we headed back to the temples. This time a bit further to Angkor Thom, starting in the Bayon temple.
Bayon is a cluster of smiling faces in stone.
As expected, Bayon was well visited by tourists but still nothing compared to Angkor Wat. The smiling faces convinced us to stay around for a while and wait for waves of people to pass by, enjoy the the trip and shoot portraits of stone. At last, we finally had a blue sky after our first cloudy and rainy days.
The high humidity and temperatures were crushing us. We had enough of temple exploring and got back to Siem Reap, where we ate early for dinner at the Kang Le Restaurant. The restaurant is basically a few plastic tables and chairs in a small garage, yet it’s got its own charm and offers really tasty Chinese and Khmer food at a low price. We even went there two times and loved the noodle soup and fake chicken. If you’re traveling on a low budget, this is it.
The following day was our last one in Siem Reap. We left the resort late in the morning and got a tuk tuk to the Old Market.
The Kang Le Restaurant is in a rural area the other side of the river, less busy and more authentic part of Siem Reap. So we decided to look around the neighbourhood and came across cows on the street, locals on their motorbikes and dusty, muddy paths.
The busy streets of Siem Reap are full with tempting street food and smoothie stands, but be careful! We ordered a jack fruit smoothie and got one with cow milk in it. We don’t get the point of that, as a smoothie should be fruit only and adding milk was just increasing their own manufacturing cost (given that fresh fruit is immensely cheap). Disappointed of the already second smoothie disaster, we went a last time to our resort where we grabbed our big backpacks, ready to leave Siem Reap after a big hearty meal at Chamkar.
We almost missed the Giant Ibis Night Bus, as the meeting point wasn’t the same where we were dropped off arriving in Siem Reap. There is a second bus station specifically for the night bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh in the city centre, so we were told by a tuk tuk driver. Good to know!
We made it in time and hopped in the bus, hoping to get at least a few hours of sleep during the 6 hour ride to Pnomh Penh. We arrived in PP after 5 am. At sunrise, we took a walk along the Mehkong river and watched fishing boats and locals doing their morning sports routine. The earliest vegetarian/vegan restaurant opened at 7 am, by then we’d already been waiting for several minutes in front of the door like hungry wolfes. In Cambodia there’s no specific breakfast menu, they tend to eat the same as for lunch: rice or noodles. Seitan seemed to be a good option to fill up on protein, even though it is unusual for me that early of the day. As always, Jessica couldn’t take a bite and was grossed out by seitan in the morning.
At 8 am we were in the next bus heading to Kampot, our destination for the next 2 days.
Cambodia Travel Log