After a few hours of bus ride, we finally arrived at the bus station in Siem Reap. The hotel that we booked had offered arrangement to pick us up at the bus station. The only thing I could remember on that day was probably the heat that I had never felt before. We were led to the car which we were then quickly served with icy cold bottled water. I could feel my T-shirt was soaked with sweat and I urgently needed a cold shower.
We were welcomed by friendly staff at Pavillon d’Orient hotel in Siem Reap. Pavillon d’Orient hotel has serene and secluded ambience that offers guests with resplendent refuse for relaxing. There are two mansions hidden in the lush of tropical garden. There’s a pool in a hotel, which makes it great if one fancies a quick dip to cool down. Also, there is a spa that offers various massage at reasonable price. It is strategically located, which is only about 15 minutes by Tuk Tuk from the Old French Quarter. Check-in process was smooth. We were then led to our spacious double deluxe room with private balcony. The room was nicely decorated, making us feel settled in just a few seconds!
As our stay in Siem Reap was pretty short, we had slightly less than 1.5 days to explore from the moment we checked in to the hotel. As we planned to spend the next whole day checking out the temples and ruins at Angkor Archaeological Park, we decided to purchase our one-day ticket in advance. Our Tuk Tuk driver drove us there. It makes sense to hire a Tuk Tuk driver during your stay in Siem Reap. It is probably the best way to explore Siem Reap stress free! Just tell the driver your itinerary, where you want to go, he drives you to your destination then wait for you.
You could purchase your ticket a day in advance at the ticket office at 5pm, which during this time is the only time they start selling tickets for the next day. After we purchased our ticket, we thought we wanted to catch our first glimpse of the ever famous Angkor Wat before the whole park shut at 6pm. Angkor Wat – the best-preserved temple at the site is a Hindu temple which was built for king Suryavarman II in early 12th century. There were still many people at the temple when were there. We walked through the entrance. I couldn’t believe my eyes, standing in front of the majestic looking Angkor Wat, which I have ever only seen its photos. I love the moment admiring the real Angkor Wat just right in front of me was just amazing! As I started to admire every bit of the temple, I was really impressed with the details on the walls, beautifully carved. It got me thinking, how did they do that?
A lot of people who go to Siem Reap make sure that they catch the view of Angkor Wat during dawn. It was too early for me, I refused to wake up at 4am! So, I thought I would just catch the view of it when evening was approaching instead. I guess, the colours are pretty too.
As night approached, we thought we would spend our time checking out the Old French Quarter and had our dinner there. There are many shops in this areas, not to mention shops that offer massage. When we were there, we saw quite a number of shops that offer fish foot massage! Basically, you sit with you feet in a swimming pool with lots of kissing Gouranis or baby Piranhas swim up and eat your feet. It was said to be tickly and the fish basically chew all the dead skin off your feet and nibble in between your toes! Well, I didn’t try it though!
Went went to a restaurant in the old quarter for our dinner. We tried one of the popular dishes, called Beef Loc Lac, a Khmer dish which was said to be brought to Cambodia from Vietnam through the French colonisers. It was delicious, which I intend to make some soon!
The next day, we left our hotel at 8am after breakfast. The Tuk Tuk driver was already waiting for us outside of the hotel. It was probably the best time to start the day just when it wasn’t that hot. We brought with us 4 bottles of 1.5 litre water, as it could get really hot in the afternoon and needed to stay hydrated! We visited quite a number of ruins and temples. You really have to make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes! To be honest, I only like a few of them and a lot look pretty similar. I am not into archaeology, really, but I can summarise those that I like as follow:
Banteay Keay – It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Built in the late 12th to early 13th centuries during the reign of Jayavarman VII. It is a Buddhist temple in the Bayon style. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.
East Mebon – Built during the reign of King Rajendravarman. The East Mebon was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and honors the parents of the king.
Bayon – This has to be the one I like most! The Bayon stands in the centre of Angkor Thom. The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak.
Ta Prohm – Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.
Just before we left Ta Prohm, I saw two kids were playing. I walked over and said Hello. Ok, I don’t know what but it seems to one of my favourites so far. I started to take pictures of the kids. Then, I walked to one corner where the main kid in this picture was hiding and scribbling something on the stone with a chalk in his hand. In this photo, it seems that he wanted to say something through the intense look from his eyes and seriousness of his expression.
Our Tuk Tuk driver stopped us somewhere in the park for lunch. There were many shops near where we stopped. One thing, whenever you stop to check out the temples or ruins, a lot of kids will come and try to sell you things. Some begged for money. Those that were selling, they tried really hard to sell their items. Well, some even followed us to our table and still tried to sell. A few actually followed us to where we were going to have our lunch. We kindly rejected saying that we didn’t need anything. They stayed.
Then, we started to have a chat with them. After our long chat with these kids, we found out that they live in tough life. They have to make a living by selling things to the tourists in order to make enough to attend school. One of the little girls told us that she had to pay USD1 to go to school for a day. And that her parents didn’t make enough for her and her siblings to go to school, so, they had to start earning a living. We truly sympathised and gave them some money and told them the money given was for them to go to school and that they have to study hard. At that point, I wish that I had come prepared with some pencils, crayons and books to give to them, like all kids, they would appreciate these!
For lunch, I ordered one really good and simple dish. I don’t remember what it was called but it was dish with thin slices of pork with green tomato wedges in a spicy broth. I had it with rice and you couldn’t really tell much how it would taste by just looking at it. Well, it was probably the best dish that I had since I was in Siem Reap!
We ended our day at Angkor Archaeological Park. Headed to Madame Butterfly for dinner. It is a nicely decorated restaurant that serve fine Khmer cuisine. We ordered one fish and one chicken curry which were absolutely delicious!
After dinner, we went to Angkor Night Market for last minute shopping. As we walked around the night market and saw some incredibly cheap foot massage (USD3-5 for 30 minutes massage), we couldn’t resist but had to stop and get ourselves pampered. I got a few Krama (traditional Cambodian scarf). Well, I have 2 beautiful Cambodian scarves to be given away as souvenirs to My Cooking Hut’s readers!
Please do the following to win 2 traditional Cambodian scarves.
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This giveaway is opened to all readers around the world. You have to do this by 10/10/2010 (Sunday) 23:59 GMT I’ll pick the winners at random! Good luck!