Time is moving so extremely fast in the last couple of weeks. It’s already Sunday, another week is over and I have finished another country: Cambodia.
To save me some time I flew some Vientiane, Laos into Siem Reap. It not only saved me from spending two days in a bus it was also an adventures in itself. Tiny airports and small planes. Getting into Cambodia is absolutely no problem, you just pay 30$ at the airport and get a 30-day visa. Although they did tape the visa on top of the stamps from Dubai, don’t they know how important passport stamps are?
Siem Reap is a medium sized city in the north of Cambodia which is really just a support town for the temples of Angkor. They do have quite the nice nightlife with the Pub Street and also a lot of interesting night-markets. But no one comes here for the city itself, Angkor Wat that’s what it’s all about. The temples are a bit outside of the city so you can either get a bicycle and explore them on your own or do what most people to and hire a Tuk Tuk for the day. It’s not too expensive and definitely more relaxing in the heat. The entrance fee to Angkor is 20$ for a day or 40$ for three days. It’s a bit expensive but you just have to see this.
To see Angkor Wat sunrise you will have to get up at crazy early at 4am to get there in time but it’s so worth it and being sleepy the rest of the day is just part of the whole experience. I actually did it two times since I wasn’t a 100% satisfied with the first sunrise but the second one was even worse as there was no sun at all. I should have just stayed in bed but yea that’s what it means to be a photographer.
There are said to be over 200 temples in the Angkor area but most of them are almost completely covered by jungle. But unless you want to spend weeks there you probably can’t visit them all. Most tourists who stay just for a day visit the three main temples which are accordingly quite crowded. You start with Angkor Wat, the most famous temple, then Bayon, the temple with a thousand faces and finish in Tra Phrom, a temple overgrown by big trees and also known as the Tomb Raider Temple.
If you have more time it’s very nice to do some of the smaller temples as well as they are generally less crowded and therefore just more peaceful. You can actually enjoy the place and get a bit of an explorer feeling instead of just listen to the unbelievably loud noise of Japanese tourist groups. Some of the small temples are actually a lot older than the rest of Angkor. It’s just incredible to imagine what a huge metropolis this most have been and who it could be completely forgotten and hidden in the jungle for so long.
I bought the three day pass and did two days and one extra sunrise at Angkor. Afterwards I just had enough of temples and went to see another extremely interesting sight of Siem Reap: The floating villages.
Located in the Siem Reap are is the largest freshwater lake in southeast Asia and there are a couple of villages around this lake where the people live with and from the water. They either consist of actual floating houses in the rivers or houses on giant stilts on what is next to the river in dry season or right in the middle of it in rain season. The people there live extremely simple lives with fishing being the only source of income available. Definitely a great place to visit, especially for sunset.
My second stop in Cambodia was the capital Phnom Penh which I reached after an 8 hour bus ride on often times extremely bad roads. As it is the capital it’s actually a really big city but still there is not really that much to see there in terms of sights. In the city itself there are a lot of markets which are always fun to visit. Or maybe just for me because I always take so many pictures there. Other than that there is the Royal Palace which is way to expensive to visit with 10$ and the small Wat Phnom temple which is more reasonably priced at 1$.
The most interesting sight and probably the main reason many people visit the city is just in front of the town. It’s the Killing Fields which the Khmer Rouge used all over the country to kill millions of people they didn’t like. It was just a horrible time in Cambodia and the fields are actually quite depressing to visit but I always like to learn a bit about the history of the countries I visit. And it’s just 3$ to get in.
You might have noticed how I was talking about dollar all throughout this post. Well there is a simple reason for this: Cambodia has it own currency but nobody really likes to use it. At least not in the big cities, here everything is always priced in dollar and everyone is just asking for dollars. I made the mistake of exchanging 50€ at the airport and I actually had a hard time spending it. This is really annoying because the dollar makes everything more expensive. Cambodia was actually the most expensive country I visited in south east Asia so far and I really wasn’t expecting that with it being such a poor country and all.
This is it for this part of Asia on the trip, I’m now heading further south to visit Malaysia and eventually Singapore. It’s going to be completely different and I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully there aren’t any of those damn Tuk Tuks down there annoying you on every corner...well just a couple more hours at the airport and I’m about to find out.