Cambodia: Angkor Wat in 75 Seconds
Our Southeast Asia circuit continued with a quick 4-night trip to Cambodia where we finally got to see Angkor Wat, the #1 tourist attraction in the world according to Trip Advisor (and Trip Advisor is never wrong, right??). And see Angkor Wat we did, but that wasn’t where it ended. We also downed all of the Western food our hearts desired, partied on Pub Street, and experienced a flash flood! Here are the highlights…
We may not be historians (or archeologists), but we can tell you with 100% certainty that Angkor Wat is super old and super cool (technical terms). During our visit to Angkor Wat, we got to travel back in time to meander through temples built in the 12th century, WOWZA!! It was unbelievable to see these enormous structures with multiple rooms and floors, high ceilings, and ornate carvings. It also didn’t hurt that we could pretend that we were in the movie Tomb Raider for a day–I see you Lara Croft (Angelina, if you’re reading this, I was sorry to hear about you and Brad). Our favorite temples were Ta Prohm, where gigantic trees are literally growing over and through the ancient temple, and Angkor Wat (obviously) where we got to see the sunrise. There are tons of temples so some people spend 3-4 full days exploring them, but we focused on the temples of Angkor for 2 days (we did the small loop and large loop by private car) and left feeling satisfied—the art of seeing temples in Southeast Asia is a tough one and you have to be careful not to over-do it!
The town of Siem Reap is….odd. We rolled into Siem Reap at night and were met with dark streets with water-filled potholes, small street food carts, worn down houses and seemingly very dirty streets. All of those things were true, but there’s another side to Siem Reap that totally caters to tourists. Pub Street is filled to the brim with trendy bars with loud music and Alley West near the Old Market is full of cute shops and restaurants that could be found anywhere in the world. Although this is a really interesting juxtaposition and really shows the effects of tourism on a small town. That said, we can’t complain too much as the bright side was all the great western food (after talking about it for months, Johnny finally satisfied his craving for quality Mexican food). We also had amazing prosciutto pizza from Little Italy Trattoria, unique (& delicious!) burgers from The Sun, and legit Mexican burritos, enchiladas, and nachos from Viva! Who knew we need to come to Cambodia to chow on our favorite greasy food?!
Don’t worry we weren’t the lamest people ever and only had western food in Cambodia! Turns out, Cambodian food holds it own in the delicious world of Asian food. We also had great food at Sinn Sisa, which plays The Beatles on repeat. Our favorite dish was the Lok Lak (beef or pork) sautéed in a yummy onion and lime-pepper sauce.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Cambodia without a few bumps in the road, right?! We had the pleasure of visiting Cambodia during their wet season, which began as me obsessively applying bug spray because I was convinced I was for sure getting dengue fever from a bug bite and ended with a flash flood. While having our last dinner in Siem Reap, a massive storm rolled through. We knew it was raining really hard, but had no idea how bad it was until we tried to leave the restaurant and the exit was blocked by water up to our ankles. After walking through that initial puddle, we rounded the corner to find about a FOOT of water on the road leading to our hotel. After being hit by a few waves of water caused by the cars and motorbikes (and dropping one of our phones in the water), we decided we had to suck it up and wade through the water, which was dark brown, halfway up my shins, and filled with trash. I wasn’t happy about it. LUCKILY, I was wearing tennis shoes (unlike the rest of our group who trudged through in their flippy floppies). It was about as disgusting as you’d imagine, but we survived and got a good laugh out of it! It’s always funny how you can avoid drinking water, apply bottles of bug spray, and use hand sanitizer on the reg, but then end up doing things like wading through dirty Cambodian street water. Life is an adventure!!
While visiting Siem Reap we stayed at the Tareach Angkor Villas, which worked well as a cheap place to catch some ZzZz’s after a long day at Angkor Wat. We may not have had hot water and the Wi-Fi was a bit spotty, but our rooms were clean, we got free breakfast, the staff helped us set up a driver to take us to tour Angkor Wat, and they tolerated us as we spent endless hours streaming the Cubbies in the lobby. Go Cubs Go!!! Our highlight at Tareach was when the staff asked to take a picture with us on the last day, BFFs.