Night Bussing it to Siem Reap
6th March 2019.If you read my last post, you’ll know about the night buses in Cambodia. I managed to get a few hours sleep on the bus amidst the dirt track roads, many stoppages and what seemed like near misses with oncoming traffic. We arrived at Siem Reap at 6.30am and we got a tuk-tuk to the Mad Monkey Hostel. Today was going to be a long day!
Madness With The MonkeysWe arrived at the Mad Monkey hostel in Siem Reap, at 6.50am. It was a little early to check in and order food although we were tired and starving!
7am came and they opened the restaurant/bar for breakfast. Victory!
We checked in and saw some cool wall art on the way to the rooms. Threw the bags in and booked a tuk-tuk to take us to the world-famous Ankgor Wat.
Straight to Angkor Wat
In Cambodia, there are tonnes of tuk-tuk and rickshaw drivers vying for your business. This was pretty intense at first but you get used to it. After all, they’re just trying to make a living. So we hopped into the tuk-tuk and off we went to buy the tickets. The entry tickets to Angkor and the surrounding Wats cost $37 for a 1-Day pass. You can get a 3-Day pass for $63. If you’re into photography and want to spend a lot of time exploring all of the Wats, then maybe the 3-Day pass is for you.
At about 8.30am, we arrived at Angkor Wat. Simply amazing! How did they build these magnificent buildings, so long ago?! It really is the most interesting place I have visited in the world so far. The same and structure of the temples. The details in the walls. It really is astonishing and although a cliché, probably the highlight of any trip to Cambodia. We grabbed some food near Angkor, which was way over priced and wasn’t anything special. I even saw some monkeys going into the temple for a pray! See below.
Wats With the Faces and The Funny Trees?Within a few kilometres radius, there are other Wats, which are equally as intriguing as Angkor itself. For those familiar with the Tomb Raider games/movie, there’s Ta Prohm and then also the Wat with the many faces, known as the Bayon Temple. Again, like Angkor Wat, these both have their own unique attractions and are equally as cool to visit. Getting around can be a bit of a trek if you’re planning on walking!
Tip for visiting Angkor Wat: Get a tuk-tuk, rickshaw or rent some bikes. Depending on how fit you are and your sun-tolerance because it gets very hot and you’ll probably be walking around for hours, in addition to walking up steps and stones etc.
Booze Cruise On The LakeAfter a long day at the temples, and ready for the bed, I got back to Mad Monkey near 3pm and was welcomed with a “Wanna go on a booze cruise?” “When?” “Now!”. It would have been rude to say no…
A group of maybe 15 of us were picked up by some rick-shaws and taken to the lake. Some cans of Cambodian were in order on the journey and when we hopped aboard too. We had the tunes pumping and the sun blasting, slowly making our way down the Tonlé Sap freshwater lake before anchoring for a while as the sun set. This same lake has the famous Kampong Phluk “floating market” on it, which is pretty cool to see. The water is pretty dark brown and murky looking. I didn’t swim in it but a few guys on the cruise did. Guess where they were from!?
A couple of cans later and we were on our way and back to the mainland. Somehow, when we docked again, my flip-flops were missing. They were either stolen or someone took them mistakingly…will give them the benefit of the doubt! So I barefooted home.
Market Area of Siem Reap
March 8thThe next morning, I got up around 9am and needed to get some laundry done. So I google some laundry spots and made my way over to one. Google Maps in Asia is funny, some places are on the map and then just don’t exist when you arrive. Others are no different businesses etc. So I found an alternative laundry spot to the one Google apparently took me to.
I then took a walk to the market area in Siem Reap, where there are stalls and shops for anything and everything.
Guys Scraping the River for Green Reeds
As I passed over a foot bridge near the market, I noticed small boats of men pulling/scraping what appeared to be green shoots/reeds from the river. I’ve looked around online but don’t know what they were doing or why. Any thoughts?
Khmer To Me Little Froggy - Khmer GrillI don’t usually use Trip Adviser for food recommendations, I just find somewhere and trial n’ error it. However, this time I did actually find good reviews of some restaurants in Siem Reap. The Khmer Grill was nearby and was highly recommended. I went. I ordered my first frog dish and I conquered. It was surprisingly tasty. In Cambodia, they cook the whole frog, whereas, in other countries, they'll only cook the legs.
Booking Stuff To Do In Siem ReapI found one of the many tour operators and I booked the Cambodian Phare Circus for March 9th as have heard good reviews and wanted to find something to do. The cost was $18.
Bar Crawl From Mad Monkey To Pub Street…eventuallyBar crawls at Mad Monkey are on Mondays, Wednesdays an Fridays and kick off at 11pm. About fifteen of us started off at the Mad Monkey bar with some shots, got our wristbands and made our way to Pub Street, where we hit a few bars and clubs including Angkor What? Club and ended up in X Bar.
Pool Day in Siem Reap (Cambo Beach Club)I found a great pool, with diving point, good restaurant, inflatable and a good crowd to hang with. Cambo Beach Club. You pay $5 in and the entry fee includes food. You can stay all day if you like. The jumping in was fun, it’s maybe 20 feet high(?) There’s also a lower-down point if you’re week at the knees. I had a nice relaxing day here and got some great seafood noodles dish as well as a nice sun burn. Check out this cool 360 shot of Cambo here.
The Cambodian Phare CircusI got a tuk-tuk to the circus, grabbed a beer and some popcorn and went inside to the ring. After a little warm up, the real action began with a series of stunts, trapeze swings, wild jumps, drama and miming in what can only be described as a thoroughly enjoyable experience. There are no animals, just people performing and dancing around. It lasted about 1 hour 40 mins and is a great day outing for any stay in Siem Reap. More about the Phare Circus here (link).
Other Hostels in Siem ReapI walked by the Funky Flashpacker hostel and a few others, pretty near Cambo Beach Club. It all depends on what level of noise, drink, fun, games etc you are looking for. Some are quite than others. Apparently, Funky Flashpacker is mental. Mad Monkey was a good mix for me.
Check out more hostels in Siem Reap here.
Ron Jeremy in Siem Reap?After making friends with other travelers, we started a game of beer pong in Mad Monkey and made our way to Pub Street. Up in X bar, I could have sworn that Ron Jeremy was up there at the bar! See pic below.
A Yard or a Metre in Cambodia?It was time to test our intelligence, in the weekly Mad Monkey Pub Quiz. With a team of three other bright sparks, we ended up winning ourselves a yard of beer! Sweet! This called for yet another night out.
KTV in Siem Reap
I had heard about this KTV phenomenon and wanted to see what it was all about. So on one of my random strolls, I wandered into a KTV place not too far from Mad Monkey Hostel. So basically, KTV is a Karaoke/Entertainment venue which is wildly popular in SE Asia. You pay in for the hour or two, you get a booth/small room to yourselves, can order food and drinks etc and have fun. South East Asians don’t mind singing karaoke even if they can’t sing. This is something that Westerners would probably be reluctant about. Interesting cultural difference.
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville
12th March - 7.45pmYet another night bus! It was time to bus it for 12 hours to Sihanoukville, to catch a ferry to a remote island (More on this in my next post!).
I luckily had nobody beside me for 3/4s of the journey so got some sleep but there was some crowd playing cards and rolling dice, which was really annoying while trying to sleep! Again, these night buses have pretty narrow “sleeping cabins”, and when I say that I mean a space with a thin mat-tress, to share with a complete stranger.
There was some guy with what looked like a tattoo of interwoven swastikas…he also did look quite crazy.
Finally, after many stops and bumpy roads, we made it there and got a tuk-tuk to the port. I had arranged for my ferry ticket back in Mad Monkey so just rolled up and collected the ticket. The ferry takes 40 minutes, carrying maybe 60 people at once. I was destined for one of the islands, can you guess which one?