Angkor What!?

The next morning we set off with two new friends for a full day of temple visits. The four of us hired a tuk tuk driver to take us around from sunrise to sunset. Our itinerary consisted of visiting temples further out that had less tourist traffic. It was still pitch dark when our tuk tuk driver picked us up from the guest house. The cool wind swept my hair as we sped along the dirt road to see our first sunrise. We saw a variety of temples that day – each place had an ambiance different from the next. To highlight a few: we saw intricate carvings on the temple walls of Banteay Srei, built in honor of female deities; we hiked through a forest to see the waterfall that awaited us at the top of Kbal Spean; and we played a game of hide-and-seek at Banteay Samre, a smaller remote temple that we had all to ourselves.
When Melinda and I had purchased a one-way bus ride from Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat, we anticipated staying for only one full day – plans changed, of course. There was so much to see that we decided to go “templing” for two full days. We saved the more touristy temples, including Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (where Tomb Raider was filmed), for the second day. Our visit to the Angkor Wat was well timed. The clouds were minimal, unlike the sunrise and sunset on the previous day, and the sky was a perfect canvas for the viewing of the sunrise over Angkor Wat.

At the end of the day, Melinda and I booked a red-eye bus ride back to Phnom Penh, in order to make our flight to Thailand (from Phnom Penh Airport).

The photographs do not do justice to our unique experience. I am looking forward to my return visit to the temples in a couple weeks. This marks just the first of my many anticipated trips to Angkor Wat. I hope you enjoy the slide show.


Siem Reap or bust!

On our last day in Phnom Penh, we decided to hit some of the other tourist spots we missed on the first day – we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Sisowath Quay and the Russian Market.
The next morning, we embarked on a 6 hour bus ride from Phnom Penh to see Angkor Wat. The bus ride was long and it made frequent stops to pick up locals on the way. Surprisingly, the bus driver took in more people than there were seats on the bus. He placed tiny plastic stools in the aisle for the extra people to sit on. On top of that, our bus driver and his friends must have been gangsters. While we were trying to speed past a tuk tuk on the road, the tuk tuk didn’t budge. In retaliation, one of our bus driver’s friends went to the back of the bus and grabbed a crow bar, opened up the front bus door (while the bus was still in full motion) and threatened the tuk tuk driver. I got to see the entire episode since I had front row seats on the bus.
Another interesting visual from the bus ride includes seeing a motorbike drive past us on the road with an entire pig lying face-up on the back seat of the motorbike. More shockingly, a couple seconds later I see the pig blink – poor Babe was hog tied to the back of a motorbike while still alive! (My friend says the motorbike driver must have kidnapped the pig from his farm to set him free – I like this version of the story better)
Melinda and I had no plans when we arrived to Siem Reap. Tuk tuk drivers swarmed in to offer us rides to our guest house, but we had no idea where we were going. Luckily, we met another traveler who told us about Popular guesthouse in Siem Reap. Accommodations were cheap – you could rent a room for as little as $3 per night, but Melinda and I decided to “splurge” a bit and got ours for $14 (which included A/C and hot showers). We dropped off our backpacks and went to catch our first sunset. At night we dined outdoors, got our feet nibbled on by fish, tasted tarantulas, and bargained our way through Siem Reap’s night market for goodies.

More to come on my trip to Siem Reap!

Sisowath Quay

Boat running along the Tonle Sap River

Russian Market in Phnom Penh

Carpick - My favorite dish so far

On our way to Siem Reap

On a tuk tuk to see our first sunset

Elephant ride to Bakheng Hill

View from Bakheng Hill, Angkor Wat

Our first sunset from Bakheng Hill

Siem Reap Night Market

Paintings for sale from the Night Market

Fishy feet

Deep fried tarantulas

Touchdown, Cambodia!

After 19 hours of air time on China Airlines, I arrived in Phnom Penh with my friend Melinda. Despite being jet-lagged, we planned out an ambitious itinerary for our first day. Here are some of the highlights of our trip: Central Market , Sorya Mall, Wat Phnom, Royal Palace, and the Independence Monument.

Driving around Phnom Penh

Elephant outside of Wat Phnom

Independence Monument

Central Market