Ben says Cambodia holds good energy for me. It is actually astounding to see a country bounce back so strongly from such recent tragedies. Visiting a country where you know many people you meet have been affected by those events makes you grateful for what you have. I also highly recommend reading a few books to be especially aware of what has happened there so you don’t go into it blindly. Where I feel we went wrong in our Bangkok planning was not to Chang Mai or somewhere outside of the city. For our Cambodia leg we skipped Phnom Phen and went straight to Siem Reap, a main draw being the temples. Which were, of course, completely worth it. My only regret was that we could not stay there for way longer. People here are truly the most generous, kind hearted people I’ve ever met and unbelievably this city is really clean. I feel like a few sentences can’t sum up how much I fell in love with the city.
Our first day was more of an afternoon since we flew in so late. We arrived in the peak heat (somewhere in the 100 degree range, yay winter!) but our guide Mr. Tivon met us at the airport ( if you’re reading this, I’m really sorry I made up a spelling for your name). Guides aren’t a must but…for the first time they feel borderline essential and you can lean on them for local tips, knowledge and a some history on places you’re touring. Greeted by cool lemongrass soaked towels, we dropped our bag off at the hotel and got in a day filled with temples. First however, we stopped by our home for our stay in Siem Reap – the Sarai Resort and Spa. While we’re never resort people, this wasn’t a resort-y type place and truly one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever stayed at. It felt like a little oasis in the heat of Siem Reap during our time there and the staff treated us like family.
After dropping our bags we made our way to Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. Our guide, who from the beginning decided that Ben might be Mark Zuckerberg also had a fun time pointing out how much water he was “bleeding” in the heat. I have to admit, I couldn’t stop laughing at how in awe he was given how we must have looked like sad hot puppies wishing for a dip in a pool. If you’re doing this in the winter, it’s still in the 100 degree range and don’t wear anything you’re not willing to sweat through. I think the pictures however will prove just how worth it this was. Built in the 12th century, this beautiful temple has been well preserved, the walls literally telling a story and the center mirroring the center of the universe is the pinnacle of the walk through the site.
Note: At this point I realized why all my pictures have come out looking AWFUL. As it turns out sometime maybe six months ago I accidentally turned the dial on my aperture wide open. Since then it’s been a series of me threatening my camera with retirement. Tomorrow’s pictures will be the turning point for things being in focus!
After this we made our way to Ta Prohm aka the Tomb Raider temple. The best timing for this (thanks to our guide) was to go right at closing time, the sun had just set and you could hear the absurdly loud whistle of the cicadas. The combination of the eerie cicado sound, no one being left from a tour and sun setting made it feel so magical. This temple was discovered many years after the others and the beauty is in how forgotten it was. Gigantic Banyan trees reclaim the temple and roots run all the way through until the entrance.
We returned to our hotel room to find it turned down for bedtime with a tangine filled with desserts like their Khmer Pumpkin spiced cake. The chef at the hotel who is Cambodian is truly talented. With many going out of their way to try his food at the Goat Tree restaurant, we decided to eat dinner at the hotel. The rest of the meals we ate out as we generally don’t like to stick to hotels for meals but with a pre- 4 am wake up the next day and many days of traveling we gave up. The good news was that this was one of our favorite meals we’ve ever had, we were totally rewarded for our laziness.
With that, it was time for bed. We were tired from all the heat and after a quick swim we passed out right away.