I have about 4 more hours before I head to Melbourne. That’s right, I am currently back in Australia. My week in Siem Reap was all about food, giving back, and food.
I’m glad that I had experienced this place last because my body was getting tired from all the moving and traveling and I just wanted to relax and do nothing. It took us about 2 days from Luang Prabang to get to Siem Reap and thankfully, I had spoken to someone along the way because we had did a detour and went back into the Thailand to cross into Cambodia rather than go all the way south of Laos. I saved at least 16 hours on the bus. Route: Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Ratchasima (stayed here over night) – Aranyaprathet – Poipet – Siem Reap
Once we had arrived to our guesthouse, we fell in love with the city immediately. Out of all the countries I have been to in my life, the Khmer people were the kindest people I have ever met. Although it was hot and humid, the city is beautiful. I felt like I had step back in time because it seemed like there was a bit of the old buildings and not much modernization left behind.
My first guesthouse was Angkor Why Not and I am so glad I had stayed here. For $5/night with AC and my own bed in a big room with my private bathroom, it wasn’t too shabby especially since we can walk to the center within 5 minutes.
I have already posted some stories on my stay in Siem Reap and this post is just dedicated to all the good eats, kids in Cambodia, and Mr. Why Not’s story.
Mr Why Not
Jasmine and I wanted to have a Cambodian BBQ and so he took us to a local one near by with two of his daughters. Over dinner I learned how Mr. Why Not came across his guesthouse. It all started when he was a tuk tuk driver and a lady from Australia had come over to vacation. She had hired him as her driver for the entire week that she was there. He had told us that since she was older, he would carry her from temples to temples, and basically just took good care of her. She told him that she will find him 3 years later.
Mr. Why Not didn’t think anything of it but a few years later she came back with a poster of his face asking for him for 2 days in Siem Reap. His friends had told him about this and finally, they were reunited. She had asked him to take him around to his family and see what the life of Mr. Why Not’s family was like.
She then made an offer to him and asked if he could, what would he like. He replied with, “Restaurant or hostel”. After some conversations and 10KUSD, he bought a guesthouse and the rest is history. She is now his god mother and they still speak to each other.
Food and Markets:
Thanks to Mr. Why Not, we had gone to a Khmer market where I seriously didn’t see any tourists or backpackers here. It was pretty neat to see all of the locals with their families on a Sunday night with their motorbikes posted up with mats and food. It was like being at a fair but on the streets.
The biggest and most populated market is the Night Market in the center. Here you find lots of items for super cheap and bargaining is definitely negotiable.
All we did was literally walked around eat, eat, and eat. I was obsess with the rocky road ice cream at Blue Pumpkin and since the weather was scorching hot, we had $1 shakes every where we went. To me, the food was not in particular the greatest thing ever but it was good enough for a couple of bucks. Must go to La Boulangerie for their espresso $1 and make your own sandwiches for $2.50! There is a street called “Pub Street” where you will find bars with happy hour ads for .50 cents draft beers, and meals for an average of $3-6 with a nice view, and great setting.
Out and About:
Jasmine and I had met Chris walking the streets in Thailand and we reunite for a couple of minutes! In addition, we also met up with Andres who we had met in Laos. It’s a small world! As always, we don’t like to be around tourists so we found a club called “Hip Hop” where 90% of the locals went to and had some dinner off the main street with some new friends.
Kids in Cambodia:
After researching some orphanages, we decided to go to the CDO. There have been many stories and true facts about directors at orphanages taking money, not taking care of the kids well, and just overall bad ones. One of our friends was teaching at this orphanage and had invited us to come observe to show us that there are good ones out there. Excited, we bought pencils with erasers, jello candy, and a big jug of Fanta.
The kids were so excited but I do have to say that I was not impressed by their manager there. He was not professional and it skewed my opinions on this orphanage; however, the smiles on the kids left an impression.
The next day, our friend Andres who we met in Laos came along with us for a bike ride into the country. Our guesthouse had left us use their bikes and we wanted to explore the countryside but with a purpose. Again, it was hot and humid and bought some more candy and biked away into the villages. We had given out more candy to the kids that we saw on the streets and I only wish I could take them to the BBQ that I was at earlier and paid for all the kids!
Overall, it was a great experience in Cambodia. $4 dollar foot and body massages. Pura Vida was my favorite place to go since they were comprising on what we wanted.
I seriously didn’t think I was going to make it to the airport in time. Last Friday, I had paid for a bus to go directly from Siem Reap to Bangkok. I think it was the first time I was ripped off because I was picked up in a mini van at 7:30am and got to the border and was told that I had to wait for enough passengers that were going to Bangkok for us to leave the border in another minivan. It was suppose to be a bus with AC and a reclining chair!
We waited around the border and finally, we were ready to go with enough passengers about 12 crammed in a minivan with our luggages and AC that was not blasted all the way. It was miserable! We left about 1:30p and had many stops along the way (thus why I wanted a bus). I was told that I would be drop off near the airport, nope, they just dropped me off in the middle of no where.
I got a taxi driver and signaled a plane with my arm flying off to the clouds and I thought he knew where I was going but he had taken me to the wrong airport. Finally, after a few phone calls to someone that spoke English and giving the phone back and forth, I made it to the airport 2 hours before my international departure. Woohoo! That was a relieve.
Best part, I didn’t know I had business class and the wine had eased my nerves. I got my seaweed chips one last time before I left Asia!