Hello dear readers! Here I am with the new post about the trip that my boyfriend Gabriele and I had in January. After two days in Bangkok and three days in Chiang Mai, our next destination was Siem Reap, Cambodia. We left our hotel Tri Yaan Na Ros, in Chiang Mai, at 4 o’clock in the morning. We went to the airport with a pick up taxi that we booked through our hotel, we didn’t want to risk and look for one in the middle of the night with the Grab app (even if it would have been cheaper). We had a bad experience in Bali, when we refused the hotel taxi because the price was 4 times what we would find on Grab, but then we couldn’t find any driver at the moment of having to leave for the airport and we had to accept the hotel taxi, at the very last minute, to not miss our flight! Unfortunately there wasn’t a direct flight from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap so we had to change the plane in Bangkok after one hour up in the air, which was quite stressful because we were up from the early morning and I couldn’t sleep on the plane (moreover I’m quite afraid of flying, I’ve never been as a child and teenager, but lately I’m always quite uncomfortable… AH, growing old!)
After the cooler climate of Chiang Mai, we arrived in the crazy heat of Siem Reap at about midday. In the airport there was a long queue and we had to fill in a lot of papers (the visa that they gave us on the plane wasn’t enough) and prepare all the documents for the counter, that is photos in passport format, passports, visas, more paperwork and money. Regarding the money, please don’t be stupid like me, and prepare 30 US Dollars for the airport because otherwise you will lose a lot of money, as they do a ridiculous change at the counter (they earn a lot and you lose a lot). We had only Thai bahts so we have been fooled, losing 36 euros (both of us, not per person) and I was really mad because we tried to save money as much as possible to spend them in better ways and losing them in such a stupid way has been frustrating. I had read that preparing 30 US dollars was better but we didn’t because I didn’t know that the loss was this big.
Once we’ve finished the various queues and we got our backpacks, we found a kind tuktuk driver from the hotel waiting for us. A tuk tuk transfer airport-hotel (20 mins) was included in the hotel price (great bonus!), many hotels in Siem Reap do this, so if you’re planning a trip choose one which has this service. When we arrived at our hotel (the Cyclo D’Angkor Boutique Hotel, beautiful and cheap) we were so relieved, because of the stress, the heat and the tiredness. The staff was extremely kind, they gave us a welcome drink and explained everything about the hotel and the surroundings, the small tour or the grand tour (of the temples), the sunrise or sunset visit (same). Luckily our room was ready in advance.
On our first day in Siem Reap we didn’t do anything except rest, freshen up and study the Lonely Planet to plan what to visit the following days. Actually we just wanted to visit Angkor and the Landmine museum and for four days of our stay it was a reasonable plan.
Maybe the word “Angkor” doesn’t sound familiar to you but you may have seen the Tomb Raider movie (2001) with Angelina Jolie? Well, Lara’s floating Defender lands exactly on the roof of one of Angkor’s temples! We watched it a few days before our departure for Asia and we were very surprised and amused of seeing scottish Iain Glenn, AKA Jorah Mormont from Game of Thrones, as the young, black-haired, villain!! :-D)
After settling in the hotel we were very disoriented to be honest, because we didn’t know where was the center, where were the temples, which was the best way to visit them, how to move from one place to the other. Our hotel suggested a taxi but it was very expensive and we didn’t need it, a tuk tuk was fine for us. Brave people even explore Angkor’s temples by bicycle! Visiting it on foot is out of the question because of the miles and the heat.
On the same first day we had lunch and a short stay in the pool, because it wasn’t that sunny, and in the late afternoon we booked a Grab and went into town.
Our hotel was closer to Angkor than to the city centre. I really liked Siem Reap, it’s a colonial city, with colonial buildings and wide sidewalks. It reminded me of Cuba. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of that nice part of the city because we were just quickly passing by with the tuktuk. We were usually going to the more touristy part to have dinner, because there were a lot of recommended restaurants, around the famous Pub Street.
While out and about in Pub Street we saw a lot of begging people with amputated limbs, because of the injuries sustained from the landmines, and this really clashed with the atmosphere of the area, full of tourists and loud music, and it brought you back to Cambodia’s difficult history. The hardest scene that I saw was a poor man crawling on the street, beside the tables where tourists were having dinner. I don’t remember exactly but I think he had both legs missing. Those are scenes that break your heart and make you feel powerless. Mostly farmers are left without limbs or even worse, dead, because of the crazy amount of mines still left in Cambodia. It was really dizzying the fact that, while visiting some temples in Angkor, you had stay on the main path because in the woods you could step on a mine, that’s what I was reading on my guide. I feel so lucky to live in a place where I know I can go in the woods, in the fields, wherever I want, without risking of losing an arm or a leg…or dying. I will write in the following days about our visit to the Landmine museum, in Siem Reap, and also to the Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the other jaw dropping temples.
Thanks for reading.
Have a lovely evening,