Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cambodimania 3: Siem Reap

I feel like I should warn you that this is a very long post. Feel free to breeze through it or read it in chunks.

Anyway, back to the story. The next morning, Lillian and I took a six-hour bus to Siem Reap. That was definitely an interesting experience. They played Khmer pop music the whole way. All six hours. And they didn't just play the music; they cranked it up! There was no way they were going to let us sleep and miss out on the beautiful music that all sounded the same. They also had tv screens showing some of the most cheesy, romantic music videos showcasing beautiful but sad starlets. It was quite the trip. We did manage to relax a little bit and take pictures out the window.

A busy street in Phnom Penh.

Views from the road.
Such a cute stilt house.

We made a pit-stop for lunch in some small town. Lillian and I went into a restaurant and ordered our food, but it didn't come as soon as we had anticipated. We asked them to make it a to-go order, so they loaded our food into plastic bags for us to take. Although it sounds strange, it worked out pretty well. Good thing we didn't order soup, though.

I had some delicious frog legs and garlic. :)

We arrived in Siem Reap in mid-afternoon and were immediately swarmed by a crowd of tuk-tuk drivers offering their services. Since our guesthouse provided a free pick-up, we clawed our way through the mass and rested on some nearby plastic chairs to wait. And wait. And wait some more. After thirty minutes, we started developing a plan B. We were discussing whether we should hire another tuk-tuk or try to walk when a man ran up to us carrying a sign with my name on it. Hooray! We got in his (GREEN!) tuk-tuk and were off. For a short time, until he ran out of gas. We were amazed to see him trot off and then return with an old wine bottle of gas. After filling up, he went back to the station to return the bottle, and we were amused. Cambodian gas stations look like lemonade stands! They're amazing!

Only the most awesome gas station in the whole world.

After checking in at the guesthouse, we went out wandering. One of the girls in Phnom Penh had told us we should visit a cafe called Art Deli in Alley West, which turned out to be a really cute area with lots of great little shops. We met a nice Australian girl at Art Deli, and the three of us all went to dinner together. After dinner, Lillian and I wandered around the night market, buying some gifts and souvenirs and getting an infamous fish massage. Do you remember my post about getting a fish massage last summer? Well here are finally pictures to show you what it's all about! Lillian was very reluctant, but I weasled her into it by pointing out that we would have great seats for watching a nearby Khmer dance performance. That did it, although she only put the very tips of her heels in the water. :)

I have to include a bathroom picture because 1). the tiles are so cute and 2). it's a great example of both the wall-less shower and the butt-sprayer.

View from our guesthouse balcony.

Lillian, sampling a turnip cake bought from a street vendor.

We found Art Deli!

The inside was fun.

They're eating my feet!

The traditional dance was very fun to watch.

The next morning we hired a tuk-tuk for the day and headed off to the famous Angkor Wat! Angkor Wat is an enormous collection of amazing temples. Apparently you can spend weeks there, if you want to, but we only had one day. The temples were something else. We enjoyed our day even though we were dragging by the end of it.

We were chipper, ready for our temple adventure. We also were wearing matching duck shirts that we bought in Bangkok. We figured that if we got lost from each other we could just ask people if they saw a girl who had on the same shirt.

Our first temple.

The view from the top.

This temple had lots of faces all over it.

Me, ascending yet another level in this temple. Notice the monk coming down?

This was my favorite temple. The trees were taking over everything!

That night we went out to eat, wandered the city, and got the worst massage ever! Seriously, I've never had a worse massage. The night before Lillian had had an amazing one, so we were hoping to go to the same place. Unfortunately, they were closed by the time we got there so we went somewhere else. The lady who was working on me didn't seem like she knew what she was doing at all. She kept poking and prodding and pressing my back in ways that were not so great. I asked her a couple times not to press but she kept doing it. Besides being a terrible massage, she kept up a continual stream of talk with the others around her (we were all in a row). She was even playing matchmaker for other masseuses and their clients. "Hey, mister," she'd yell across the room. "She's very beautiful, isn't she? No boyfriend. No husband. You like her?"

I didn't get a picture of the massage place, but here's one of me and my dinner! Rice, Khmer curry, and a coconut smoothie!

After my interesting but painful massage, I decided it was time to call it a night. After all, our bus was coming at 7:40 the next morning to take us back to Phnom Penh.

Disclaimer: my camera died halfway through the temples, so some of these pictures are Lillian's. Probably the better ones.


  1. I'm so jealous that you got to go to Angkor Wat! Awesome post. I can't wait to hear more!

  2. i really like how the trees were taking over too. Those roots are incredible! So many of your pictures reminded me of thailand. And that IS the coolest gas station ever. I'm glad to hear you're having fun adventures over there!


I like comments just as much as fresh guacamole and chips! Well, maybe not quite that much...