Cambodia was never on my list of places to visit, actually, I just found myself going with the flow when Jetstar had a fare sale some months ago and friends invited me to go. I was glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Our flight was at 6am on October 21st, so I had only two hours of sleep before I had to wake up and get myself to the airport. We couldn’t resist cam-whoring even there.
We dropped by the money changer inside the airport itself and converted about 200 sgd to 151 usd.
On our way to our boarding gate, we saw Punch and Chi, and the five of us had breakfast at one of the eateries before boarding.
Once seated, we were amused to find that Punch and Chi had been assigned the seats across our row. I plugged my ipod shuffle’s earphone’s into my ears and promptly fell asleep.
Upon waking up, I borrowed the cute pen that Tatsie had bought onboard to fill up my immigration form. Note to self: next time, don’t forget to bring a pen!
Our flight was delayed by 40 minutes. We noted that the Siem Reap airport looked like our hometown’s.
After passing through immigrations, we were met outside by a guy bearing a sign with my name on it – our airport transfer from our hotel.
He led us to a tuktuk, a motorcycle with a buggy attached at the back. We squeezed ourselves into the backseat and enjoyed the cool breeze. It was very dusty, though, and when I could start feeling grains of sand in my teeth, I wrapped my coat around my nose and mouth.
We finally arrived at our hotel, Angkor Pearl. Chi had found it through TripAdvisory some months ago. We just emailed the owner, Peter, to make reservations and got prompt responses. The hotel staff was very warm and breezed us through check in with welcome drinks.
We were quite pleased with our room – a large and small bed, clean sheets, closet, cable TV with lots of English channels, aircon, a hot shower and most importantly – wifi! We only paid 25 usd per night for three pax for all these plus free breakfast, so it’s a really good deal!
Our tour guide and driver were both waiting for us at the hotel lobby. We had booked a private tour at Derleng Tours, paying 255 usd for a three-day fully guided tour with our own car and driver. We stashed our luggage in our room, quickly freshened up and headed back downstairs where we were ushered into a van.
First we had to purchase temple passes because we needed to flash these at each temple before we could be allowed to go in. We bought the three-day temple pass. They actually take your picture and print it on your pass so you can’t pass it on to other people.
Our first stop was the the Ancient City of Angkor Thom’s main temple called Bayon or four-faced temple. Before we walked inside, though, Cate spotted some shops selling wide-brimmed hats so we each bought one at $2 apiece. These turned out to be our best buys for this trip as the sun beat down on us 80% of the time and they shielded our face from the sun’s merciless rays.
After that we also visited Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King.
Afterwards we broke for lunch. We were brought to one of the restaurants and ordered a Cambodian meal after asking our tour guide for recommendations.
The outside was very beautiful though.
We then headed to the mountain of Phnom Bakheng and see the view of Siem Reap town, Angkor Wat, and the Ancient irrigation system called West Baray.
We were going to watch the Sunset with spectacular view. We climbed a mountain to get to the temple and once there, we had to climb a bunch of really steep steps to get to the top of the temple. The steps were so steep that you could not climb it with your feet facing forward; you had to angle it sideways. I had such a hard time that our tour guide offered to carry my bag for me so I wouldn’t get out of balance and plunge to my death.
We got there quite early (along with loads of other tourists) so we had to wait a while for the sun to set.
Three hours of sleep and an entire day’s walking finally took its toll on me so that I actually fell asleep while sitting on the stones next to Tatsie.
I woke up when someone grabbed my camera from my hands, just in time to witness the sunset, one of my favorite things.
We asked our tour guide to bring us back to the hotel straightaway as we were too tired to have dinner but after resting, we got hungry and decided to venture out and found another nearby hotel that served meals so we went in and once in there, a lady that was seated at one of the tables asked us if we were from Singapore, surprising us.
Turns out she’s Singaporean and she owns the hotel. She and her husband talked to us all night and even gave us a free glasses of wine and a plate of pineapple slices. We loved the food, which tasted better than what we had for lunch at the same price range despite its being in a hotel. We also enjoyed the conversation which ranged from the Marcoses to their love for dogs to how they founded the hotel.
We left before 10pm so that we could sleep early as we needed to be up early the next day.
Continued… Cambodia Day 2