Saturday, January 28, 2017

Motykas in Asia 2016 Part 5 - Cambodia

We arrived in Cambodia in the evening on New Year's Day. Cambodia and Vietnam are two of the very few countries where I do not need a visa to enter while DH did. Ha!

I had obtained visas for Miss Kiki and DH for Cambodia via their website just before we left for our holiday. MM and TM still had to get their Visa On Arrivals at a different counter. We lined up at different lines. It was not DH's lucky line, it was moving super slow, he went through even later than MM and TM! 

I had booked Angkor Boutique Tropic Hotel via Agoda, and had arrange an airport transfer service for us. We walked out of the airport door and searched for my name on the signs... no luck there. We waited and waited and DH remembered to buy a SIM card. It was the cheapest SIM card so far. We spent US $3 each for a data and calls. With a working cell then, I was able to call the hotel. It turned out that they had made a mistake in jotting down the time so the hurriedly sent someone to get us from the hotel. Fifteen minutes, they promised.

20 minutes later I called them back because there were still no signs of my name anywhere. They asked us to wait because the car should be close. A few minutes later, the hotel called me back to inform me that the person picking us up were already by the door and no one responded to their sign. I assured them that my name was still not in sight. Not long after, someone approached us and he showed his uniform with the hotel logo on it. It was the right hotel, but it was not my name on the sign! Only then he realised that he had grabbed the wrong sign on the way out. I was unhappy.

So we gathered everybody and the car came around. It was an old Toyota Corolla. We fit our luggages into the trunk, piled ourselves on the back seat and we let TM take the front seat. We were packed like sardines but that wasn't all. It turned out that there was a driver and an escort from the hotel, and they all tried to fit into the same car! Wooooow we were so confused and we bursted out laughing in that little thing of a car. What an experience! Check it out....

My first impression of Siem Reap was that it was very remote. The road we took was dark and there weren't a lot of things on each side. It turned out that they took a shortcut. As soon as we were on the main road, we passed several 5-star hotels such as Le Meriden and Sofitel. They both looked big and fancy at night with a lot of decorative lights.

Somewhere on that main road, we took a left turn into a small alley that would only fit one car. To be honest, it was a bit unnerving at that time and I wasn't the only one. MM and I exchanged a look. Lol. Our hotel was at the end of the alley and I wasn't really too worried, I had been closely following our location on Google Maps anyway.

The hotel was actually very clean and equipped, except for insects everywhere. Crickets, mostly. This wasn't surprising though because even inside the airport I saw crickets everywhere. They also had House Geckos (Cicak) in the rooms.

None of us had had dinner yet, so TM and DH ventured out on a tuk tuk to the city centre to hunt for food. The tuk tuk ride cost US $2 each way. They came back with very good fried noodles, BBQ chicken, and some BBQ skewered meat. Yum!

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel as it was already included in the room rate. They had about 5 different options for breakfast, most of them egg based. Quite decent, I would say. We rented a van from the hotel for a half day tour, and we wanted to see the Angkor Wat complex. But first stop, The Hive cafe for some good latte. It had been a while!

The Angkor Wat complex was not too far from our hotel, but because of some traffic jam it took us longer than it should've. On the way, we passed a local market and I think that it was the cause of the traffic jam. Very similar to the situation in Jakarta.

Our next stop was the ticketing office. There were options for 1 day tickets or 3 day passes. Children under a certain age can enter for free and they checked everyone's ID.

Our rented van and the driver

Ticketing office
The first temple we visited was the Bhayon Temple. It was relatively small and not too crowded. I think it's comparable to Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta.

There were many people walking inside the complex between the temples and even more people riding the tuk tuk. I was very glad we took a van because the sun was scorching hot and the streets were super dusty.

Tuk tuk

Elephant Terrace

Next on our list was Ta Prohm Temple, made famous by Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider movie. This one was what I was excited most about, because I don't know of any temples in Indonesia that are overgrown with giant trees. The path from where we got off the car to the temple was not too long but very dusty.

Somewhere inside, we got separated so Miss Kiki and I went to explore on our own.

Miss Kiki was so excited to see this lizard and she took a bunch of pictures of it.

Here's a funny story. Miss Kiki and I were the first ones to go through the temple, and we waited around on a platform just before the exit path. We waited and waited for a while and finally DH showed up. We were wondering where the MM and TM were, and after waiting a while longer, we decided to go ahead to the exit in case we had missed each other. It turned out that we actually did miss each other. We were sure of this because after we looked back at the pictures that MM took near the exit, Miss Kiki and I were in the background on the platform! Lol...

It was about lunch time and our driver took us to a restaurant within the complex. The food was pretty good but I liked Vietnamese food better.

After lunch, we were supposed to be dropped off at Angkor Wat. The largest and most famous temple there. Miss Kiki was really tired by then so I stayed with her in the car while MM, TM, and DH went. From what I heard, it was very hot and super packed. There were lineups that could easily be 2 or 3 hours long in the temple. Here are some pictures DH took.

Meanwhile... in the van Miss Kiki tried to nap unsuccessfully. Instead, she saw a monkey on a tree nearby and got excited and took many pictures of it.

From Angkor Wat we went back to the hotel and the boys took the chance to cool down in the pool with Miss Kiki.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Marum. This restaurant was rated 9 on foursquare and it was part of a restaurant chain run by a charity organization. To find out more about this restaurant, you can visit their website.

Beef with red ants

I was so tired by the end of the day, I didn't have energy to visit a night market we passed on the way. 

The next morning, we had to catch a plane to our next destination. I requested the hotel to prepare our breakfast to go. In each pack there were bottled water, bread, jam, boiled eggs, and bananas. They wouldn't allow eggs and water past the security gate, so we and a bunch of other people there with similar breakfast packages quickly ate our breakfast before passing through.

So long, Siem Reap!