The past few years, I have been blessed to visit many beautiful cities like Zurich, Berlin, Munich, Kathmandu, London, Bali, Yogyakarta etc. My only regret is that I didn’t I schedule time after every trip to capture the fun I had in words. This year, I told myself I’ll spend a few hours to write “10 things we did in…” series.
1. Watch sunrise at Angkor Wat
As the Boyfan had been here before, I relied on him to take me to around. So when asked “What are we going to do in Siem Reap”, he said “We’ll get a three days pass to go to the Angkor Temples”
I was quite confused. The temple is so huge you need three days to explore?! Then I realise Angkor is a huge land with different temples scattered on it. Imagine Angkor as Petaling Jaya, and we’re going to Damansara Utama for one Temple and SS 17 for another. Good analogy eh?
Angkor Wat is the main attraction and the most popular temple in Siem Reap. Naturally, tourists flock to this place. We woke up at 4.30 in the morning to watch sunrise by the pond. By then, it was already crowded with tourist.
Tip: For a good sunrise, don’t go during the rainy season like we did. Come earlier if you want an unobstructed view right at the edge of the lake. I wished I bought some newspapers/mat so I can sit on the ground and watch the sun wakes up….with a box of sweet potato chips for breakfast! 😀
3. Visit other Temples of Angkor – Bayon
My favourite temple of all. There are many funny faces made from carved rocks. Oh, remember to wear long pants if you want to climb up to Angkor Wat. They don’t permit shorts and the sarong that I wore won’t do.
4. Visit Kbal Spean (River of a thousand lingas)
Most visitor will give this place a miss. It’s rather far from Angkor Wat and requires you 2 km climb uphill. There are no temples but you’ll be amazed of the intricate carvings everywhere – rocks that are on the surface as well as under the bed of river!
5. Banteay Srei
If you enjoy historical structures, you wouldn’t think this is yet another temple. The material is redder than the rest and the carvings are the most intricate. Historians believed this temple is carved by women. I’m not sure how they come to this conclusion, but let’s hope they are not being sexist as surely men can carve as well.
7. Visit Galleries and bookstores
When I was in Siem Reap, I was fascinated with the Cambodian culture. Perhaps I don’t know about the khmers as much as I do Thai, Korean or Chinese for example. So we had a lot of fun discovering their history, culture and art. I particularly like this coffee table book “Carrying Cambodia”. It shows how Cambodian transport everything on a bike.
8. Dine at the Foreign Correspondent Club
This placed used the French governor mansion. It’s now turned into a luxury dining place with interesting galleries. We’ve got some art from McDermott Gallery and a local artist, Sokpheng
9. Visit Museum
We learned a lot about Hinduism and Cambodian’s history at its glorious era. I like King Jayavarnan VII, the most compassionate King who built about a hundred hospitals for his people. My favourite story is about Ganesha, a boy made from turmeric, killed due to his obedience and resurrected.
I’ve been to a few good museums such as Lourve and rijksmuseum. Surely didn’t expect much from a museum in Cambodia but I was pleasantly surprised on how well it was build and presented. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos here. I think it’s a huge marketing mistake.
10. Visit Tonle Sap on a boat
We took Tara Riverboat, a tour company recommended by our hotel. A tour guide arrived in our hotel, took us to a dock at Tonle Sap and led us into a motorboat. We stopped by a few places – see Crocodiles and have lunch.
12. Enjoy a 5 course dinner and Apsara dance on a swing
One of the more unique dining experience I’ve had. We sat on a swing, with our leg extended under an elevated tray. Menu included local grilled vegetable, beef skewers, sour soup, fish amok and my favourite Cambodian dessert – pumpkin custard.
13. Visit a local village
We visited a local family before our cooking class. They have no electricity and no pipe water supply. Each family has a water well and an old-fashion water filter. Boy, getting drinking watery to cook is hard work. I was told that if I draw water the way I did, it would take all day!
15. Go on Tuk Tuk
This is my favourite mode of transportation in Siem Reap. The drivers are always friendly and the bumpy journey reminds me of theme park rides!
If there’s a number 16, it would be eating homemade ice-cream at the Hyatt’s Glass House. We’ll surely be back!