We arrived late to the airport in Siem Reap, and it was the most challenging to get through. We were paying for visas on arrival, which were $60 USD a piece, and then we had to go through customs. The airport was surprisingly nice inside. When we walked out with our bags we expected to find our driver from the hotel… However, no one was there despite having it confirmed. We ended up having to hire a driver to take us, but it was no problem. Our driver found our hotel, Chronicle Residence & Spa, easily, and we went to check in. I informed the gentleman at the front desk, and he took care of the issues. We were escorted to our room & given a wonderful tour. It was unconventional, but shows their level of hospitality! It was bed time, but we still needed to book the sunrise tour for Angkor Wat the next morning… Brad called downstairs and took care of it for us.
We had requested a tuk-tuk but the next morning we were put in a car instead, which I think was their way of covering for their mistake the night before. Our driver drove us in & dropped us off at the ticket center. Once we had our day pass, we were brought to the front of Angkor Wat for the sunrise… TIP: Angkor Wat has a very strict wardrobe policy, so I suggest you have your knees and shoulders covered at all times while there.
The morning truly did not go as planned. When we were buying our tickets, it was raining pretty hard. When we got there is the lightest drizzle…. When I pulled my camera out, it fogged out so much that it was basically useless. …. It wasn’t much of a sunrise view,but we still got some gorgeous photos… Here they are:
We called our driver, on the phone provided by the hotel, to come get us and take us back to the hotel. We figured it would be smart to get some of free breakfast before we did the rest of our exploring. We journeyed back for a relaxed morning over breakfast. I was also able to get my camera back into working order, which was great.
Once we were ready to go again, we headed out of the hotel on foot in hopes to find a tuk-tuk, We walked for about 10 minutes, and were even able to stop in a very small shop to get water, before we got in a tuk-tuk. Our new driver drove us back into the park, and to the front of Angkor Wat. We started again… We crossed the bridge into the main entry in awe of the beautiful and intricate detailing. … We kept going… We wandered down the steps in the grassy fields below, away from the main path. There were dragonflies everywhere, and we even found some monkeys as we encroached up on the main structure.
As we wandered up to the main structure, we entered through one of the side entries, and then went left to the main walkway. As soon as we walked in, you notice all the people taking in all the grandeur… …and all the selfie sticks and umbrellas for sun protection. It was overwhelming, and it was basically so humid that you were instantly wet from the amount of moisture in the air. We wandered around a little bit, and then got in line to go up the incredibly steep steps to the top of the temple. The view was incredible! You can overlook all the people coming and going, the view goes for miles, or should I say kilometres? Here are some of Angkor Wat photos:
We eventually decided to head back down. We looked a bit more, and then headed back out, but this time we exited to the other side. We had a run in with a critter with many legs, and we headed to get lunch. We ate at one of the cafes outside of the park called Angkor Cafe. I got a bowl of soup & Brad had a sandwich, and we finished it up with ice cream. It was all really good and delicious.
Once we were done with lunch, we were feeling bold enough to go venture on… So this time we headed up the main way of Angkor Wat and cut through. Brad ended up having to go the bathroom, so we had to find the restrooms before we could do anything. That however, put us on another journey down a beautiful dirt road behind Angkor Wat. We followed it along, past a couple of ruins, and eventually reached a point of having to take a tuk-tuk, or attempt to walk. We figured we would walk because we really did comprehend the area of temples actually was. TIP: I urge you to please, please, please get a tuk-tuk. Don’t be those dumb tourists like we were… I had read how big they were, but I really didn’t get it until we were there, and we didn’t have a tuk-tuk. UGH!! We continued walking blissfully unaware that we were getting nowhere anytime soon, and started to debate if we should turn back, when suddenly a couple of other tourists from South Africa stopped & offered to share their tuk-tuk with us. We were really grateful, and head to our first alternate Temple… Here are some of the photos before the story continues:
We started at Banteay Kdei Temple… I just remember thinking it was really neat to be walking along ancient ruins… This is also where I bought my first piece of travel art (at the very end). We followed the long road in and followed it right back out once we hit the end, while simultaneously wandering through the ruins. We weren’t sure where the two girls were that we came with, but we knew we needed to get our own tuk-tuk anyways. We waited around for a little bit, with no luck. All the ones that were there, were already hired for other guests. We ended up wandering across the way to use the bathrooms, and then waited on the street corner in hopes that someone would see us and offer us a ride… Finally it happened after about 30 minutes, we had our own tuk-tuk.
He was taking us on an adventure to Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider temple) & Angkor Thom (Bayon Temple). He dropped us off at the front of Ta Prohm, and told us to meet us at the other end. He did the same with Angkor Thom… Here are some photos from both.
It was a really long day, and we were exhausted. So after our magical monk experience at Angkor Thom, we asked our Tuk-Tuk driver to take us back to our hotel… Our timing was just about perfect, as soon as we reached the point of Angkor Wat it started to rain… …and as we drove on, it began to rain harder and harder.
When we got to the hotel, we jumped out of the tuk-tuk, and ran in as quick as possible, feeling guilty about our muddy footprints that we left in the lobby. We went upstairs, took our showers, and then ended up napping for about an hour.
When we awoke, we were wanting dinner… but not just any dinner, Indian food. We looked for a place, but were coming up short. When we went down stairs to request a ride they made an excellent suggestion, The Curry Walla. Their chicken korma & naan was so delicious, that we just scarfed it down. Afterwards, we wandered a little bit. We found a place called Blue Pumpkin, a small cafe offering pastries, light meals, and ice cream. It was a great way to finish off our dinner. With plenty of R&R we hit the streets once more and ended up running into Pub Street. What a funny place… There was lots of action here. Large karaoke bars open to the streets, more bars, more restaurants, vendors, shops… It was happening! After the day Brad & I had though, we were tired and sore. We weren’t out for to much longer. We probably explored for about an hour before we headed back toward the restaurant. When we got back to The Curry Walla, we used the hotel’s phone again to call the driver. We ended up waiting way longer than we probably should have, but it’s Cambodia, what can ya do??… When we got in the car we ended up going back to Pub Street to pick up a couple of guys that had been partying. I was really happy for them, but really wanted my bed.
The next morning we woke up at a fairly normal hour, got our bags partially packed, went to have a delicious breakfast, then went back to the room to finish packing. We eventually made our way down stairs to check out and were then on our way to the airport for our next exciting chapter.
1) You need a lot of bug spray in Cambodia… The mosquitoes were having a feeding frenzy on me…
2) Make sure you have a mosquito net & that it is closed all the way. I woke up our last morning and had a few brutal bites around my feet and ankles because of the way I sleep.
3) Cambodian chicken noodle soup is amazing!
My travel art: a watercolor painting of Angkor Wat complete with birds!