Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Siem Reap 17-19 Feb 2006

Money Spent:
Airfare = RM160.76 incl taxes
Hotel = US$28 x 2 nights / 2 person = US$28 x 3.8 = RM106.40
Food = US$20 x 3.8 = RM76
Guide = US$40 x 1.5days / 4 person = US$15 = RM57
Shopping = US$20 x 3.8 = RM76
Total = RM476

Arrived Siem Reap airport at 11.45am. I previously read that it was advised not to bring check-in luggage because of the long wait of clearing customs. This was untrue, how to survive with just a carry-on luggage?! The arrival process is like this. Step 1, get your visa on arrival if you require one (Malaysian and the Philippines passports do not). Step 2, all must go through the immigration, a very slow and tedious process. Each person will take 2-3 minutes. By that time, your luggage will be waiting for you.

I booked at Angkor Than City Hotel ( for US$28/night which includes a free airport pickup. On the way to the hotel, everyone drives incredibly slow at less than 60km/h. I soon realise that it was because of the bad road conditions that didn't allow them to go faster. Siem Reap is a left-hand-drive city.

Siem Reap Airport, please pay US$25 upon departure!

The Angkor Than City Hotel

Angkor Than City Hotel looked more like a very cosy guesthouse across the river. This hotel is a few doors away from Bopha Angkor Hotel, most tuk-tuk drivers don't know Angkor Than so just tell them Bopha Angkor. My room on the 2nd floor had about 40 mosquitoes waiting inside for me. Bring a good repellent!

The reception area

My US$28/night bedroom

For lunch, we headed next door, Mollopor Cafe. Meals are US$1.00 for a pasta or pizza or any of their japanese dishes. This was our favourite cafe, beers were also US$1.00, sundaes US$0.75.

Mollopor Cafe menu

My Chicken Katsu Don

We hired a guide for US$20/day and a van+driver for US$20/day. You'll need both because a driver can only bring you to the temples, but he will not be allowed into the temple. The guide is certified, and can give you the full history and story behind each carving. We first visited Angkor Wat, the most popular and largest of the temples.

In Angkor Wat, there is a very very steep climb to the highest tower, each step is about 1 foot high, and my shoes were too big for each step until i had to tip-toe up. I made the grave mistake of climbing up the sides, thinking that i can support myself on the wall. The steps ended suddenly midway to the top, and you'll have to slide tip-toe to the centre to climb to the top. Very scary! Going down was even worse, with a thin steel rod to guide u down. If you plan to go up, stay in the middle and wear not so chunky shoes.

Somewhere near the bottom, still happy

A dizzying sight

CC and HH, are they allowed to sit there?!

Climbing down is scary man!

Night life in Siem Reap is quite pitiful. We dined at The Red Piano, the ambience was very nice, but unfortunately food was just ordinary. US$3.50 for a rice and amok fish when i could have gotten it for US$1.50 outside. After dinner, we got a tuk-tuk back. Four small-built adults can fit in 1 tuk-tuk. My hotel was quite close by to walk, but after a tiring day, i bargained until US$1.00 for the tuk-tuk. Massages are cheap, the masseuse will come to your hotel room at no extra charge. US$6 for 1 hour, or US$10 for 2 hours.

Siem Reap town, before dark

This is what it becomes at night

Breakfast at our hotel was pleasant on the balcony. Eggs and bacon with toast. You'll find french baguettes everywhere, the locals sell them in the markets, but toast is hard to find.

The gang having breakfast on the balcony

French baguette and eggs were delicious

There was a thunderstorm this morning, but we went to Angkor Thom anyway. Did a lot of temples by lunch time, and got quite tired.

This is the Bayon

Each head has 4 faces, each uniquely designed

No you don't have to climb this

Trees constantly destroy the ruins

Went back to town at Central Market for lunch. There is a food centre within the Central Market complex, locals eat here too. US$8.50 for 6 of us, we had grilled fish with mango sauce, fish amok (delicious!), lok-lak (fried beef and onions), spicy pork, sour chicken soup and fried morning glory. Very cheap and nice.
After lunch, we decided we've had enough of temples (they were starting to look the same) and went shopping at Central Market. Cheap t-shirts for US$1.50-US$2.00 each. Very nice silk handbags for US$4-5.

This is Lok-Lak

Fish Amok, close to otak-otak

Some observations:
1. Staying at the airport road Route #6 is a bit too far from town. Tuk-tuks will charge generally higher to get to town.
2. Photos of hotels are quite deceiving. Most luxury hotels who charge over US$100/night are just an ordinary looking building, with a dusty and dirty road just beyond the building. No matter how luxurious it is inside, you cannot escape the reality of a dirt road just outside. Overall, this town is not the place to spend that much money on the hotel. I also wouldn't want to stay in the middle of town because of the mud and dirt atmosphere. Staying across the river was just perfect. 3. I'd spent a total of US$145 for 3D/2N, this includes hotel, food, 3-day temple pass, US$25 departure tax, food, and shopping.
4. Please bring something for the kids there. You'll come across many selling all kinds of souvenirs. I brought some sweets, so whenever they came near me I would give them one. Some pens or pencils too but not cash. Giving them cash prevents them from going to school.

Since I'm not into history much, 3D/2N was just enough for this town. An eye-opener, somewhere to go once in your life.

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