Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor

Any visit to Cambodia would be incomplete without a visit to the ancient Temples of Angkor in Siem Reap.  We'd been looking forward to this since we started planning our trip last year and we could barely contain our excitement as we made our way to the bus station in Phnom Penh to catch an overnight bus for the 5 hour journey north.

Excitement quickly turned to horror when we saw the bus we'd be traveling on.  Our night bus was actually more of a nightmare bus!  To say that the bus was suffering from a bit of wear and tear would be a gross understatement.  If you've read any of our other posts you'll know that we've been on one or two rough bus rides (it's become a bit of a theme actually) but this one topped the lot.  Not only was the bus in truly shocking condition, the driver was a completely insane.  When we joined some other passengers in insisting that another bus be provided his response was "no problem, no problem."  As you can probably guess, that didn't mean "Of course, we'll have a nice new bus along in just a moment.  Your comfort and safety is our number one priority.  No, it meant you either get on this bus or you won't be going anywhere any time soon.

Ad for bus to Siem Reap

Actual bus to Siem Reap.  Spot the difference.

Getting on the bus was probably not the wisest choice we've ever made but we made it there in one piece in the end, albeit with our nerves a little shot.  And as Lizzie would say, the story is "good for the blog!"

Anyway, Siem Reap.  What can you say about this place?  It's pretty hard to put into words how amazing the Temples of Angkor are, the pictures barely even do it justice.  We rented tuk tuks for the day ($35 for 2) to take us out to the temples and drive us from site to site.  We arrived at Angkor Wat, the main temple, at a little after 5am to watch the sun come up over the temple and lake.  We spent the whole day exploring various sites, we visited 5 in total, and watched the sun go down from one of the temples in the evening.  Unfortunately, Courtney was quite sick for the first half of the day with an upset stomach so she didn't have the best morning but she was determined not to let it ruin our day so she soldiered on and made it through a full 12-hours of walking around the temples.

While in Siem Reap we stayed at Mitri Guesthouse (  A nice, family-run guesthouse with basic rooms that included AC, TV, hot shower and free internet all for $12-a-night!  Great value.

On either side of our marathon day at the temples we decided just to relax in town.  On our first day we grabbed breakfast at the Singing Tree Restaurant, an awesome little place on the food alley in town (next to Pub Street) and after some exploring we treated ourselves to a some fish!  For $2 you can have little fish nibble the dead skin from your feet for 15 minutes.  After you get over the initial ticklishness of it it's actually quite a nice sensation.  Some local kids came by selling books and ended up watching as the fish went to work.  Their poor little feet looked like they could use a break so we ended up treating them to massages of their own and they loved it!

On our last day in town it was so hot so we decided to find a hotel with a pool that we could cool off in.  We each paid $4 to use a lovely rooftop pool at the Riverside Hotel.  We watched the sun go down in the distance before heading out for a few drinks to say goodbye to Kate, Lizzie and Claire (for the second time!)   A great way to end our whistle-stop tour of Cambodia.


  1. Hello Lee & Courtney keep on trucking! Lee congratulations on Fulham reaching the Europa League Final. There's me thinking you were a tinpot club!

    Still doesn't compare with the famous Barrow playing at Wembley a week on Saturday in the FA Trophy Final. Might be bobbing over for a long weekend.

    Take care and good luck as you continue your travels.

    Neil & Bonnie

  2. Neil,

    Looks like Fulham and Barrow may end up with more silverware than your boys this season!

    Briefly considered making a detour to Hamburg on Wednesday but my current financial situation wouldn´t really permit it. Watching from Spain instead.

    A win on Wednesday will be a nice preamble to the big one this summer. Can´t wait!

  3. Lee just back from a long weekend at Wembley and the Barrow boys did not disappoint with a 2-1 win in extra time. London pubs crowded with Barrovians picture the scene!

    Just waiting for a similar result for Fulham now.