Welcome to Cambodia my friends!
1st day in Siem Reap:
I had booked into a guesthouse which was fine but when I arrived I had the feeling of being alone in the guest house … plus there was no common areas to meet people eventually …
So when I arrived in the room, I decided to locate the European Guesthouse and see if they had a room available.
This was the case, so I change and I have absolutely no regrets!
The European Guesthouse is very well positioned, my room is very clean and there’s especially common parts, a restaurant and bar where meeting people is pretty easy!
After I put my bags in my room, I went to the bar where I met Pheak (pronounced a bit like Pierre), a young Cambodian who works at the guest house. He explained me the different options for visiting the temples …
I decided to do the « small tour » the next day by bicycle alone and to do the day after the « big tour » by Tuk-tuk with Pheak.
So there are two tours, a small tour and a big tour … Here is a map to give you an idea.
The small tour (purple line) is about 17 kilometers, and the big tour (red line) which is an extension of the small one is about 26 kilometers.
I have not done much more that day, I went walking around the city center of Siem Reap and then I stayed at the guesthouse where I talked to some people.
Day 2 in Siem Reap:
I took off around 8:20 in the guesthouse with my super bike 😉 It is not very difficult to find the way because in fact everyone seem to go to the same place and in all cases for sure all the tourists! ! Whether by bike, scooter, Tuk -Tuk , bus or car.
It is also very funny because people pass each other then stop, then pass each other again… There was a young Cambodian student who was part of a group of people all on cycles, who came to discuss with me on the road pedalling next to me 🙂
After about 20/25 minutes of cycling I arrived at « Ticket Booth » which is on the right side of the road. Here there is a crowd! And there is a whole row of point of sale Admission tickets. You have to check which queue you take, because every counter is selling different tickets (1 day, 2/3 days, 7 days entrance… ) and they take a photo from you at the counter 🙂 at least for the 2/3 days ticket, so SMILE 😀 and this photo will be on your ticket.
Then, you will be controlled just after the ticket booth and several times at the entrance of some temples.
So here I am on my bicycle for the little tour! And there, the drama ! When I wanted to stop to take a picture of the » Welcome to Ankor » panel I realize that I forgot the memory card for my camera ! 🙁 It sucks!
Going back to the guesthouse does not seem like a good idea because I’ll lose too much time so I ‘m reasonably thinking that today it will be just for eyes pleasure and I would take pictures the next day, but still keeping a little hope that I can buy a memory card arriving on the site of the temples … and YES it is! Well, $10 for a 2 GB memory card is not cheap but it’s for a good cause ! And I had to negotiate … she wanted $25! I cannot believe it!
So off I went to explore the temples of Ankor …
So I started by Ankor Wat . THE famous Ankor Wat which all guides book refer to and which is the largest and supposedly the most beautiful. Well… excuse me but for me it was not my favorite … ! In contrast, the next on, Baksei Chamkrong, I loved it!
It was raining … first downpour about 10 minutes then big storm about 40 minutes … That’s how I made the storm breaks 🙂 For the storm, I sheltered under a temple of prayer and I stole a little nap, and I can tell you that I was not the only one 😉
It’s already 2:00pm when I start again after the little nap! I go toward the East-gate and I decide to finally eat something. I stop near one of the temple and one of the woman who is selling fresh fruits and cold drinks, and who is sitting a little bit away from the others, comes to me, and tells me like the others:
“Hey my lady! You want pineapple, mango, cold water?”. I have to tell you that all these women have the same voice tone when they speak to tourists. So, at the beginning it’s funny but then, after a while it becomes quite annoying!
But these one seems nice! 🙂 so I tell her that I would like some pineapple and some water and she immediately prepared a plastic chair for me to rest 🙂
So I decide to sit for a while beside her. She is chating with one Tuk-tuk driver who is waiting there for his client who went to visit the temple.
After eating my pineapple and drinking some water I start to speak with them…
I stayed there with them for a while, Map and Tantié, taking a Cambodian course 😀
I could learn some of the basics, like « susaday » (hello, « Le Hay » (bye-bye), « Ankun » (thank you), « tchnjan » (very good), « kleipeman ?» (how much is that? ») , and also numbers : « moy-1, Bée-2, mbay-3, boon-4, pram-5, pram moy (6), pram bée (7) etc…dap-10, roy-100, Pâon-1000. »
Well, we had a lots of fun!They found it so funny to hear me trying to speak Cambodian 😀
Tantié, the tuk-tuk driver even gave me his phone number if I needed a tuk-tuk later, except that as he was not speaking very good English, we laughed about how to understand each other on the phone 🙂 So we decided that if I call him I should say “Hello! Camille European Guesthouse, 10 minutes?” We had a good laugh about it!
After saying good-bye to my friends, I continue my circuit.
It should not be far from 3:30pm and on my way I pass a little greasy spoon that is on the road but still a bit in the middle of nowhere – It seems that they have other things than fruits to eat. After a few minutes of hesitation, I stop here and ask the young nice lady if there is something to eat and she tells me « only spring roll and eggs « .
Well, it’s perfect! Here I am sitting at a table with two other Cambodian women in green uniforms who probably work in Ankor Park. It is probably their lunch break ? or 4:00 ock break? That I do not know! 😉
The young lady from the greasy spoon prepared me in a jiffy two beautiful spring rolls ! Sure, there are almost never here of tourists who stop … only locals in my opinion , it’s great ! I love it!
The spring rolls are simply DELICIOUS!
I have a thought for my dad at that time who advice me one or two days before on the phone “do not eat raw vegetables” 😉 but I think I must try !
I have to say that it was a successful test because I have absolutely not been sick after eating these spring rolls filled with raw vegetables, fresh and crispy ! 😀
Again, short course of additional Cambodian at checkout to revise my previous lesson! Moy Pôan riel plus moy pôan riel = Bée pôan riel 🙂
I continue my journey after this short authentic stop and I see on the map that the circuit is about to end … That’s good because I’m getting full legs 😛
Return to Siem Reap by a circuitous route because I lost the way a little bit 😉 that’s where I say, “Long life to GPS and 3G!”
This evening, I devoured in my guesthouse, one of their pizza which was absolutely GORGEOUS!
For the next day, appointment is set at 7.30 with Pheak for the big circuit.
Day 3: Siem Reap
Let’s go for the grand tour!
The photos speak for themselves … The light is beautiful …
Between visits to the temples of the Grand Circuit I talk to Pheak to learn more about the lives of Cambodians.
He is 24 or 25 years, he is married and has two children, two boys, one 3 years old, the other one is 10 months old.
He is living with his in-laws 😕 Because he explained me that about two years before (if I understood well) he left to Thailand for about 3 months to find for a work there…Then he had to return to Cambodia because his visa was over and his family was angry against him at this time so they didn’t want him to come back home…When he returned, he started to work at the guest house but he was dealing only with the tuk-tuk drivers I think and then he is now working as receptionist in the guesthouse every afternoon shift. He is also doing Tuk-Tuk tour to the temples on the mornings on his free time, a way of earning extra money on the side. He is earning at the guesthouse 90 USD per month, so he bought a tuk-tuk that costed him around 600 USD (he made a loan at the Bank) and a scooter and he can almost double his salary in high season I think…
This is the life of a young Cambodian boy of 25 years old, already father of two children.
As I had already seen much anyway the day before, I did not elaborate the temples of the grand tour… I took some photos but still we got back to the guesthouse at 11:30 am.
For lunch, I went to eat in a small Cambodian restaurant indicated by Pheak and evening I tried the Cambodian BBQ, very good!
Here in Siem Reap, I was amazed for two days 🙂
The day after it was released, I am on vacation after all! And anyway then it rained a lot that day …
It is already May 5, and I’m leaving Cambodia for south Thailand …
To be continued 🙂