4:30 AM. Time to get up. Groggily I greet Tivon in the lobby and climb into the back seat of the car. My eyes fluttering open, then closed as I sway back and forth, listening to the sound of tuk tuks all around us quietly racing to Angkor Wat. So why are we back when we were here a few hours ago? To catch the sunrise of course. Despite the immense amount of selfie sticks and selfish tourists pushing others to get a good view, this sunrise is one of the most magical, purples and pinks shooting out behind a silhouette of one of the few west facing Buddhist temples in the world.
Despite the fact that people for some unknown reason blocked the view and physically shoved each other for pictures. We saw a man shove some Japanese woman because she was in his shot. Ben and I were horrified and expressed it to each other only to have some bro go “I would’ve pushed her, she doesn’t even have a camera”. So yes, even when witnessing a sunrise in Cambodia that is just magical…you can realize others don’t value it. Honestly it made us double down on not taking our opportunity for granted. We had grabbed some fruit and bread from the hotel and sat on the stoop of a temple to watch the sun rise all the way and have our breakfast date.
Afterwards we went to Angkor Thom. The day kicked off as we crossed the bridge into the complex. The main take away for this section of temples is that the ruler at the time essentially let several different religions co-exist not only at the temple but within the country in order to keep the peace. You’ll see different features that are more Buddhist or more Hindu as you walk through based on who occupied it at the time.
We went back to our hotel and prepared ourselves for our next activity, another cooking class. Even though we were taking two classes in the span of about a week, this was totally worth it. Getting to taste the food the way it is supposed to taste, made from scratch and able to ask questions the entire time is amazing. Also it was roughly $20 a person so there is no reason not to cook in an open air kitchen after traveling there by tuk tuk and then sitting down to a beautifully set table to way too much food.
After class we were dropped off by the market and did some shopping. I also made both Ben and I stop for a manicure and foot scrub. The woman working on Ben’s feet looked like she might pass out. Not only did she gasp upon seeing his enormous feet that did not justify the $5 price tag for an hour foot scrub. He also wiped out an entire foot emery board. She kept looking back and forth at his feet and the board just amazed one customer could do so much damage. We tipped generously.
The road back into town
We stopped for our first coffee slash juice break at Sister Srey Cafe. While the smoothies, delicious coffee and the fact that everything comes with a miniature cookie is a selling point at this establishment – it’s also a great small business. The Aussie sister cafe employs locals who work it, some wearing little name tags denoting if they are still learning English. The entire staff volunteers and a percentage of the profits goes to supporting education. I completely missed that they have a boutique and reading lounge upstairs called “Twiggy” so be sure to follow the narrow staircase up if you find yourself there.
Not being caffeinated enough we also stopped by Little Red Fox Espresso just a few streets over but technically in Kandal Village. I wandered down the street where I also found one of my favorite purchases – a silk wrapped bead necklace. Little Red Fox was another Australian find but much like Sister Srey is all about giving back to the community. There was a great local vibe and I had a ginger and lemongrass latte. Ben had a long black which is an Americano in all countries where people look at you blankly when you ask for an Americano *hint, this is many countries. To be honest, the owner was wonderful and chatted with us for awhile. It’s not hard to want to support a business you believe in. To boot there is an awesome Cambodian barista who can do insane latte art while you wait.We went home to our hotel for a little bit and took a swim, had a little snack and hit the town for dinner.
We grabbed a drink and some snacks at Miss Wong’s after walking around down town. The cocktails no offense were not amazing but the ambiance was wonderful and of course we gobbled up our tapas as you can pretty much not go wrong in food and coffee here. The eye for design here has been pervasive in every outing of ours.
Afterwards I found my much sought after banana pancakes. I felt bad taking a video of this wunderkid at first, trying to not get his face in the shot until he kept motioning for me to film him. He is clearly the star of the street and the only teenager working. His skills speak for themselves… (I should mention at this point that a lot of children/teens go to school for about half the day, six days a week here. Education is basically in two sessions, a morning and a afternoon/night one so that everyone can work the rest of the time and help out their families).