Escape to: Siem Reap

I will be travelling again soon (YAYYYYYY!) and this time to Europe. Before I go, I thought I’d finally share my way too overdue story on Siem Reap, Cambodia. This was my very very first time to travel completely solo (I’ve flown solo a few times before…), and to be honest I LOVED IT.

The first thing that I noticed about Siem Reap is how similar it is to Philippines. Except I think it’s definitely a lot hotter, and the soil is red. I was not expecting that. Also, in Siem Reap (and I think the rest of Cambodia), they use USD and don’t have coins. If you get a change that needs is lower than a dollar, it gets converted into riel. Weird. I know.

I was lucky enough to be there during their New Year, which lasts for a few days – and it was chaotic. In a good way, don’t worry. The Cambodians like to celebrate their New Year water festival style. If you were at Pub Street during one of the nights, there are pools of people (pun fully intended), carrying water guns. There were A LOT of pick up trucks loaded with a drum, which I assumed to be filled with water and people at the back – all firing at will. I felt like it must’ve been the zombie apocalypse. Minus the zombies. If you stayed on the sidewalk though, you won’t get soaked – it’s only on the road that the water chaos happens.

The best thing that I saw was Phare, a mini circus company that gathers disadvantaged youth and former street children and educates them in the arts – theatre, dance, and music. The profits from the shows goes to help and support these disadvantaged youth and street children. I love knowing that there is hope for these kids, regardless of their past circumstances. I’m pretty sure they run shows all year round, so if you’re ever in Siem Reap, please please check them out and show your support.

Things to do

Other than the obvious, which is temple hopping and Pub Street, my non-touristy activities included: Pottery Class + Quad Bike (I also checked out a couple of museums which names I can’t remember).

When you’re in Siem Reap, enjoy the cheap noodles, cheap roti pancakes, and cheap foot massages ($1 USD for a half hour foot massage, yes please.) I was spending $10 USD ($15 NZD) a day and that was me eating for two, but probably three. I was also having dessert for appetiser, and then dessert again for dessert.

I had one blank day in my itinerary, so what do I do with it? I checked out a cafe called Temple Coffee & Bakery. Apparently, you can take the Aucklander out of Auckland, but you can’t take Auckland out of the Aucklander. I practically stayed there for the whole day because they have beds instead of seats. Yes. Beds. Instead of seats.

Where to stay

I stayed at this hotel that I found through Airbnb and I highly recommend it for so many good reasons. You get way more than you paid for. It’s a 15-min tuktuk ride from the city centre, but I didn’t mind it at all. It’s nice to be able to go to a little haven (with a swimming pool!) after roaming around temples and night markets on a hot day. The hotel owner is always happy to help you – especially with tuktuk rides and general getting around Siem Reap. When I went temple hopping, he organized my tuktuk ride. And my tuktuk driver had a chilly bin filled with water bottles and cold face cloths. Amazing, I know. Okay… I did get lost because I couldn’t find my tuktuk driver. I’d completely forgotten what he looked like! Oops…

I hope I get a chance to visit Cambodia again. Honestly, I absolutely loved travelling solo. I’m sure travelling with someone will have resulted in better Instagram worthy photos and all that (what. a. millennial.), but I can’t wait to do it all over again in October. This time, for six weeks. Around Europe.

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