Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cambodia, Siem Reap

A day before I left Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Siem Reap, I realized that Cambodia is Prince Norodom Sihanouk's country.

As I consider myself as a member of ASEAN countries, I remember his name ever since I was a kid. At school, we had to remember the names of Presidents, Vice Presidents, Sultans, and Prime Ministers of all ASEAN countries. I even remember that his wife's name is Monique. I used to like watching him on TV during the ASEAN ceremonies.

Most of the people I know in Vietnam, has visited Cambodia or to be specific the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Therefore, after almost a year living in Saigon, and when I was about to move somewhere else, I had to make an effort to go to Siem Reap!

One of the street directions

Hallo Siem Reap!

Is there any privilege of being ASEAN country member? Visa exemption! No need to queue at the immigration upon arrival.

It is only 45 minutes flying from Saigon, and I arrived safely at the destination! Virek, the Tuk Tuk driver from the hotel, picked me up at the airport. He has been working as Tuk Tuk driver for ten years and speaks good English.

The Prince's House

As soon as we got out of the airport, rain started. Apparently, May to October is rainy season… It's hot and humid. Oh well, the hotel reception said their saying about the rain; when it rains, it means the king is walking. Wow... Am I the queen who is walking now?

Soria Moria is a hotel in the center of Siem Reap that I found through TripAdvisor. Good choice. The room is big, spacious and clean. Wifi is available. Staff is helpful.

The Old Market

The Old Market is apparently only 5 minute by Tuk Tuk from my hotel. It's a traditional market, lots of shops selling garment, souvenirs, coffee, day to day needs, etc. My favorite thing to see is the cute Cambodian women pants, different designs and colors.

Shopping in Siem Reap requires bargaining skills which I am not fond about it. Partly is because I don't know the real market price. Other stuff that attracts my attention is the cushion sheet with colorful beads in elephant shape. It is similar to Thai's souvenir.

It's a different attitude of people around the world. In this Old Market, shop attendants are not aggressive. At least when I was there! Perhaps it's because it was during the quiet time after lunch, or probably it's because it was raining and less customers.

Pub Street, Old Market

Pub Street is walking distance to the Old Market.  Along the street where the Blue Pumpkin restaurant is, I noticed there are some cute shops!

Amok Fish & Coconut @ Blue Pumpkin

As my first introduction to Cambodian cuisine, I had Amok Fish, yummy…. and fresh coconut to satisfy myself with the thirst...

After good late lunch, I walked to find those cute clothes shops. One of them is Old Forest which is owned by Japanese entrepreneur. Most of his clothes are designed by Japanese designers. When he knew that I am Indonesian, he told me that he likes Bali and Batik!

On the way to floating village


You should be the master of your own mind, wise man says. You should be the captain of your own trip.

The monks, near boat dock,
floating village

After refusing to visit the Landmine Museum and Silk Market, I finally accepted the idea of visiting the floating village; Chong Kneas, Tonle Sap – with a wish to see the sunset.

Tuk Tuk and small cafe, boat dock, floating village
Petrol station on the way to floating village

It is 18km return trip by Tuk Tuk, after the rain, has a little bit of challenge i.e. dusty road. Anyway, on the way to this village, I got to see how the people live in this area; some live in wooden stilted house. Closer to the destination, there are paddy/rice fields on both sides of the road.

Floating Village

This floating village is the closest to Siem Reap. Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia. As soon as I arrived, I paid boat fee of US$25. Plus the Tuk Tuk costs US$11 (return).

Floating Village

Like in other floating village, people live and work in the boat, use the water for living. There is hospital, school, church, restaurants and market. 

During the trip, I was taken to a shop and offered to donate drink/food for the school children nearby. Yes, it is up to us if we want to do so. So it is a mixed feeling. Partly, I want to do something for the kids, but this approach was out of my expectation. They asked a few times and I politely responded. They understood.

Coming back at the mainland, while I walked to find my Tuk Tuk, blessing in disguise, I got this cute pic of Tuk Tuk and green rice field.

I could not see real sunset that day, but I had a hope to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat the next morning! *

*It will be uploaded soon!

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