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Always drawn to places with history, culture and mystery, I absolutely had to visit Cambodia. The only downside was I had only a full two days in total to enjoy and explore this beautiful country. With two options of either Phnom Pehn or Siem Reap, we opted for Siam Reap because we wanted to see the Angkor Wat.
Stayed at Villa Indochine D’Angkor, which was a 15-20 minutes tuk-tuk ride from the airport & fairly near most of the visiting areas. The place was decently priced for all the perks we got. I live for small details, so I absolutely loved the welcome lime drink in a gorgeous silver bowl adorned with a single orchid and cold towel to cool you down from the intense heat.
Villa Indochine D’Angkor: The room was really pretty and most importantly spacious and cozy. There was even a welcome sign on our bed with our names using leaves (eco-friendly signage ftw!). The restaurant had the best Amok Fish dish I tried the whole time I was there (& all I ate was amok fish).
Amok Fish is thick soup cooked with either fish or meat, vegetables, eggs and coconut milk, served with steamed rice. It has minimal spices but is very fragrant and tasty. Another thing in the villa that caught my eye was the basic decor with maximum impact. Folded lotus flowers were everywhere! It being my favourite flower, pictures were a must!Cambodia has a one hour difference from Malaysia, we are an hour ahead. Keep that in mind when travelling there as due to this factor we missed the sunset at Angkor Wat which was planned for day one. So the rest of the day was spent lazing by the pool, and sipping on Cambodian beer;Alcohol there is really cheap. A draft of their own beer is 50cents (US currency) & cocktails range from 1 USD onwards. I had the best cocktail I’ve ever had in my entire life (I kid you not!) at a bar on Pub Street called The Sun. It was a strawberry champagne margarita and it was incredibly delicious! All for $1.50 😉
Which brings me to what we did the rest of the night, we went for an Apsara Show at Koulen restaurant which was recommended by out tuk-tuk driver. It’s a huge restaurant that seats about 500 people, and has for performances as well as a buffet. The performance was beautiful but it would have been awhole lot better if we knew the stories behind it. The food was sub par so I wouldn’t recommend it.
After the show we headed to the Night Market and Old Market, walking distance from each other to experience the shopping. I absolutely loved it! Walking through tiny shoplots with trinkets, statues and clothes, I felt so at home 🙂 The people were nice but persuasive in order to get you to buy things.
Here’s a little tip, when you bargain go down by a quarter, not half from the price given. I wish I had known this little detail earlier as I over-paid for quite a few items. After all that shopping, you can walk down to Pub Street where all the clubs and bars are for a drink to unwind before heading back.
Day two started incredibly early as we wanted to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Woke up at 4am, the villa staff packed our breakfast so we could take it along and we went on a very cold tuk-tuk ride to the place. It was swarming with tourists from all over the world, all waiting to take the perfect picture of the Angkor Wat’s sunrise!
My personal opinion? The sunrise was not as majestic as I had hoped it to be, beautiful nevertheless. It’s either that or the sky was just not cooperating on that day. I’ll definitely go back again to be extra sure 😉
Another tip that you absolutely need to do, and this is crucial is to get a tour guide for the Angkor Wat. There’s so much history and stories for each part of the place. We didn’t manage to get a guide, so we kinda eavesdropped as much as we could here and there.
The Angkor Wat was initially a Hindu temple for Lord Vishnu and was later a Buddhist temple. According to the guide, what religion it is was based on the ruler of that time. The intricate details, the amazing statues and all that history was just breath-taking!
The whole place had a calming, zen effect. I could just stay there all day exploring. It’s so beautiful. Here’s proof of just how amazing it is (and the pictures don’t even do it justice!)
Though it is a Buddhist temple now, the Hindu elements are still evident. For example, these water pools that were used by Hindu monks to store holy water and to wash away sins after prayers (information via tour guide).The whole place was gorgeous, but the best is yet to come. As much as I loved the Angkor Wat, the next temple I went to definitely captured all my attention (& heart!). The Bayon temple.
The Bayon temple is said to be a shrine to the Buddha, decorated with dozens of stone faces and statues. Bayon has a meaning in Khmer; the Magic which is incredibly appropriate. That place is absolutely magical! The statues at Bayon were smiling, which added on to the zen vibes of the whole place;
To add on to the beauty of this temple, we stumbled upon a Lingam statue as well. The Lingam is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva and seen as a symbol of energy;
I brought a little piece of my art to emerge with the art that was already there for centuries; The third temple was a walking distance from Bayon and was fairly disappointing. The entire structure was very tall and the view was nice from the top, but that was as much as I got out of it. There could have been a really great story about it, however with no guide we were unsure about it all.
I didn’t have the opportunity to scout more temples, but I definitely will be back for more. Thank you,Cambodia for the Buddha-calm vibes, inspiration, art and history. Until next time.