We arrived in Siem Reap a couple hours later than expected and to our amazement we had a tuk tuk waiting for us sent by our guesthouse – The Happy Guesthouse. We arrived late in the night but were still greeted with smiling faces and great service.
The next morning we borrowed some bikes from our guesthouse and rode into town to the markets and shops. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. From the moment we arrived in Cambodia I have just felt this deep connection to the country and it’s people. Both pride and compassion for the people and place.
Our second day here we were picked up at 5 am to start the first of three days of temple trekking Angkor Wat and more. We were blown away by the sheer volume of temples that sprinkle the countryside surrounding Siem Reap. The first day we explored Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom which had us out and about from 5 am to noon. We easily could have spent far more time at each place but with the temperature increasing and our energy decreasing we decided to call it a day. The second day we explored the temples on the bigger circuit and the third day consisted of a 45 minute tuk tuk ride in the hot breeze to the furthest temple. Maria and I both seemed to have an interest moreso in the temples that lacked preservation and rather remained in their natural state so we didn’t fully appreciate the temples on the last day. After three days of temple trekking we were templed out and exhausted from the heat. Our friends that stayed at the same guesthouse did three full days – 8 am to 6 pm – so needless to say, they were exhausted.
Our evenings included trips into town to the night markets and then back to the happy guesthouse to watch a movie or call it a night.
Shopping in Cambodia got the best of me. For some reason I had a hard time holding on to my dollar bills (they use American dollars here!) and it wasn’t just because of my love for shopping but more so for the deep compassion I felt for this country and it’s people. When I could I tried to compensate a cold drink or a snack in replace of the dollar bills but it wasn’t always well recepted. Regardless I walked away feeling good and usually with some sort of souvenier for friends and family and the children or vendors were a couple dollars richer.
The last day of temple trekking we found ourselves with a couple hours to kill so we hung out at one of shop areas alongside the road. It wasn’t long before we had a group of local children around us playing the alphabet game. It was a pretty rewarding experience!
Now a tid bit about the happy guesthouse. For anyone going to Siem Reap I strongly recommend staying here. Although it’s located across the river and few blocks from the city centre it is well worth the one dollar tuk tuk ride to town. The owners are fantastic. Although they don’t speak a lot of English they understand completely, and have enough young locals hanging around that step in to help. They have free wifi and free computers with Internet. They have bikes you can use for free to get to and from the city centre – less than a 10 minute ride. If you want to use the bikes to see the temples it’s about 1 or 2 dollars a day (if you’re brave enough to bike the distance in the scorching heat and hike around temples all day-this is definitely the cheaper way to do things.) They have DVDs and tv and a book swap as well. Our room for two people was 6 USD night which they discounted to $5.40. And on a really hot day they came in and gave us free air con for an hour. They arranged all of our transportation for the temples and our bus to Phnom Penh as well as took care of our laundry and our postage. And the food was delicious and much cheaper than most places in town. I absolutely loved this place!
I am sad to be leavig Siem Reap as we are now on the bus to Phnom Penh. It’s a six hour bus ride which in comparison to some of our previous bus trips, it’s a walk in the park. We will be in capital for two nights, one of which is the Khmer New Year so that will hopefully be a unique experience.