Angkor Wat temples and Cambodian market shopping

Firstly apologies for the lateness in the next instalment of my travels, surprisingly there’s lots of things to see and do out here, who’d have thought ey?

So back to where we left off…

We’d booked a flight from Phuket to Siem Reap to resume our eastward travels, but it was a very early flight and as we were on a tight budget we ended up staying in the airport for a cheap yet uncomfortable night. Luckily we were able to put our big rucksacks in storage for the night (though cracks began to show at 3am when Katie ripped up her bag receipt!). We prepared by buying some snacks and found a place to bunker down. my eye mask and sleeping bag liner really came in handy, and though it did get chilly in places, we saved some money and were there in plenty of time for our early 6am flight🙈 

Luckily when we got to the other side, getting a Cambodian visa on arrival was super straightforward and didn’t take as long as expected. Their system is a well oiled machine and isn’t too expensive at $30. We were able to easily get a taxi to our hostel at a set rate ($7) and when we arrived we were so grateful that we could check in straight away and go straight to bed! On a side note this hostel/hotel Naga Angkor had the comfiest beds on the trip so far – the extra wide memory foam singles were heavenly 👌

After our well deserved sleep (it was too long to be called a nap!) we decided to explore so as it was now late afternoon we headed towards to the night market which was just beginning to get started. Safe to say the three of us marvelled at how cheap everything was, between us purchasing tops, a dress, sarongs, shorts and bracelets the whole time we were in the city.Close by we stumbled across a restraunt we liked the look of so sat down for some yummy yellow noodles and spring rolls.

In Siem Reap we did some hostel hopping and we adopted two different hostels. We stumbled across Onederz hostel on our second day whilst looking for somewhere for food as our accommodation’s was quite expensive – well, expensive for how cheap food in Siem Reap turned out to be. Our adopted hostel did amazing breakfasts of toast/pancakes/museli and fruit and a drink for a bargain $2! And we ended up booking tours to the floating village and Angkor Wat through them too:

That same afternoon we went on an excursion to visit one of the amazing floating villages called Kompong Phluk. There appear to be three different ones you can go to but I read that one called Chong Knead should be avoided as your money doesn’t go to the local people and instead to a private tour company. I can highly recommend the tour we did though! We got picked up from the hostel in a minivan, given bottles of water and driven an hour or so out of the city through pretty villages. Though this was just a snapshot, you can see how the wealth of the cities isn’t distributed throughout the whole country. We arrived at a ‘marina’ where longboats boats were tied up together and guided down the riverbank towards one. We got to sit on the roof in the sun as we meandered downstream,  passing lots of houses on high stilts on the way. (Note: visiting in the dry season means there’s less floating going on 😂 but it was still incredible to see all the structures.)

Along the way there were lots of adorable kids waving and saying hello, so cute. Eventually the river opened up into a massive lake that went beyond the horizon, and we watched sunset from a floating pontoon come restaurant which was glorious! After sunset we headed back to the city where our evening consisted of the cheapest dinner we’d had so far: around ten dollars for spring rolls, three dishes and three fruit shakes, lush! Here’s a pic from the pontoon:

For the next day we’d also booked to go to the main reason we came to Siem Reap: the Angkor Wat temples. I really wanted to see sunrise above the temple, even if it meant leaving the hostel at 4:15am. Sunrise over Angkor Wat is THE iconic picture of the complex so of course that was a must-see at the UNESCO world heritage site. There are different ways you can explore the temples depending on your preferences – we booked a tuk tuk guide to take us round for the day though you could hire bikes and cycle or even walk, though personally I think it’s too big to walk as some of the temples are really far out. Anyway this is the (Katie’s) result of our early morning escapades:

Angkor Wat at Sunrise / Photo credit: Katie Vickery

Seeing these temples that are so ancient was something special. They’re continually crumbling and being restored, with lots of investment from countries round the globe to help preserve them.  As well as Angkor Way we also saw other beautifully old temples including Bayon temple which had a population of monkeys roaming about:

As well as the place they filmed Lara Croft which has this incredible tree woven into the surrounding stone:

We saw all this and more and were back by midday(!). We felt we could’ve stayed longer to explore but would have liked a tour guide to tell us about the history and significance of certain things to get the most out of the experience. So we headed back into town, grabbed a bite to eat and then went to chill out at our other adopted hostel Mad Monkey. It was somehow twinned with ours and so allowed us access to their swimming pool-  result! Though nowhere near as cultural as our morning, a lazy afternoon by the pool was exactly needed after a 4am start! 

A lovely few of days all in all, I’m definitely preferring smaller towns and cities to big capitals thus far.