Once Around The Sun

29665 km

SIEM REAP

For over 2 weeks I haven't had my flip flops on and I’m not even sure whether I still have my shoes somewhere. My everything is full of sand. I think we are pretty beached out if that's even possible. Seemed a lot of work to wrap up my small backpack and head for the bus station again, but it is time to get going.

The Cambodian sleeping busses, that agents call ‘hotel bus’, are surprisingly comfortable. The arrangements are in double sleeping pods, so if you are travelling alone, you have a good chance to spoon a local or a fellow traveller. But other than that it is pretty comfy and the 11 hour journey was a breeze, we've slept over the whole trip to Siem Reap. Buses stop quite far out of the town, we are already used to that, but unlike the other cities in Cambodia, tuk-tuk drivers seem to be much more down to the earth and honest about pricing a journey. Our first ride with Chhoy from the bus stop to the city cost us $2. We have agreed to use his services for the next couple of days as he doubled as an experienced Angkor guide too. Well, not the chatty one boring you with a trillion of facts, but the one that points you to the right direction at the right time. Thankfully for our comfort the weather has been of comfortable parameters for the days of sight seeing the Angkor Wat and surrounding temples, however the overcast rendered an uneventful sunrise the both days we have been there. Still very hot though, so I wonder how is it even possible to tour the sites in scorching temperatures. Other than that is only the ridiculous amount of tourists that you need to get past, but can't complain there as we were just the same adding to a total of more than 3 million visitors a year. Understandably sunrise on the front of Angkor Wat with the mirroring ponds is the main attraction and the local guides ride this hype very well. If on the other hand you are looking for a nice sunset with a good foreground with temples, there is none, I think. So be careful with advice on a good spot, it's probably another hype driven by the guides. We have been drawn into one of these sunset spots at not less than amazing mountain temple of Phnom Bakheng, the sunset view is not the best and you can save yourself time and grey hair by visiting another time. Two days at Angkor were more than enough, although there is a lot more if you are willing to sit on a tuk-tuk for hours, I could take only this many Chinese tourists coughing and sneezing into my face. With Majka we've agreed on one thing. The best about the temples of Angkor are the crazy trees grooving right over the walls in the most unlikely parts of these structures. As for Siem Reap itself is a great place buzzing with foreigners. Once again, quite typical for Cambodia, the night life and party scene is well present. A visit to 'Pub Street' is a must whether you're looking for fun or just coming for the food. Probably a good idea is to couple the visit with one of many night markets. My experience with these is if you've seen 3 stalls you have seen it all and the 'same same but different' slogan that you find on the popular t-shirt designs fits exactly the stock range of these markets. Stay alert with the scammers and 'street artist' that age from 0 to 100, Cambodians don't express their feelings publicly, so don't let them push you emotionally with fake tears.

With all that out of the way I must admit I've enjoyed Cambodia very much. Not just because of the white Christmas and best New Years Eve in a long time, but for its rich cultural heritage Cambodians are so proud of. The two week beach 'holiday from holiday' was a cherry on top, but most I've enjoyed, as always, watching the everyday life go by...