Getting our holiday in Cambodia proved to be more stressful than anticipated. After the surprisingly painful process of booking flights, we were shocked to find out that Erin may be denied access into the country. Her passport, although valid, expires in 5 months and 3 weeks…1 week short of the 6-month requirement by the Cambodian government. Because of this Erin had to sign a waiver saying that she was risking getting denied and may have to fly back to HCMC. Needless to say, she was not excited about the idea. We all joked to keep the atmosphere light but I will admit that the thought of missing out on Siem Reap was upsetting. Jallison and I watched nervously as Erin put on her best poker face and went through the gauntlet of people that is Cambodian customs. The mood was intense. It was a series of highs and lows as each time she received her passport back she soon after had to give it to another customs agent. 3 stamps and a very anxious Erin later we were all in Cambodia and tuck-tucking our way to our hostel. Thank Jebus. In a way, it was almost better that we went through this little scare as it made us appreciate going to Cambodia that much more. That and it was entertaining to hear Erin say she was going to a Cambodian jail or work camp. Not the holiday in Cambodia she was looking for.
Travel Tip: Want to avoid a headache like the one we experienced? Get your Cambodia Visa online!
Arriving at our hostel we were greeted by the manager Sony, given cold towels and drinks and shown our rooms. It was by far the best place I have stayed for $7.50 a night. The fact that is had its own crocodile farm didn’t hurt either. In Europe I paid over 35 euros a night for much, much worse.
After some great Thai food and a $6 couples massage, we retired for the night. We booked a 5:00 am tuk tuk to take us to Angkor Wat for sunrise. Since Erin and I don’t do sunrises (unless a night of drinking precedes) we thought it would be best to get some sleep that night.
5:00 AM came very quickly. We were dropped off in the dark and like lemming or sheep, we joined the rest of the heard. It was our intention to hire a guide so we knew what we were looking at however in our sleepy state we just started walking towards the single largest religious monument in the world. Guide or no guide it didn’t really matter, this place is impressive in size alone. Most baffling to me is the 200m wide moat surrounding this 200 hector area. How? We walked in amazement towards a reflecting
pool and waited for the sun. I took 15 thousand pictures. Everyone that told us to go at sunrise did not disappoint.A holiday in Cambodia must.
We spent the next 2 hours or so wandering the ginormous grounds. Guide-less we made up stories and came to our own conclusions on what the sculptures and stone murals meant. By our account Vishnu liked to party. When we arrived at the honeycomb looking towers we were not surprised to find that they were closed for cleaning for the entire day. Vishnu must have heard our jokes.
By 8:00 AM the heat was unbearable. +36 was 10 degrees more than my pale skin could bare. After watching some monkeys feed we headed for the tuk tuk and asked our driver to turn up the A/C which really meant go faster.
Next up was Bayon, the all-facing, all-seeing temple. This was my favourite of all the ruins and sites we saw that day.
Another favourite was the Ta Phrom made famous by the #1 blockbuster “Tomb Raider.” For those not familiar with this instant classic it stars Angelina Jolie and follows her as she raids this tomb for cute Cambodian children. Jokes aside these trees are crazy. The roots appear to almost melt over the ruins like an Antonio Gaudi piece.
That night we showed our new friends at the hostel how to make a caesar. I brought some Clamato for Jallison and the bartender and cook were kind enough to let us raid their cupboards for ingredients. Drinking a ceaser in Cambodia is something I never thought would I would do. Dream big children. After dinner and a foot rub in town, we headed back to the hostel for a mad game of Yahtzee. We taught our host Sony how to play. He not only enjoyed the game but got two “Yah-tees” and won. If anyone out there goes to Siem Reap stay at the Golden Mango and challenge the reigning Cambodian Yahtzee champion.
The next day we headed out of town to visit the floating village of Tonle Sap. Although there is a serious violation of “don’t crap where you eat” it is pretty amazing how the people of the village live. During the rainy season, the water rises by 10’s feet making it unsafe to live. So every year these houses are moved to higher ground.
We briefly strolled the market before saying our goodbyes to our holiday in Cambodia and its very friendly smiles. Thankfully Erin had no issues leaving the country and was sad to go. “Goodbye Cambodia. You upset my stomach and warmed my heart.”