Last Christmas I had a Christmas in the sun with my boyfriend. We decided to head to Siem Reap, Cambodia since neither of us had been there before.
After having a quick Christmas via FaceTime with my family we headed to the airport on Christmas to start our vacation. We arrived in Siem Reap late in the evening to a small airport. We got off the plane right on the runway and walked about 5 minutes to the terminal where we had to get our visas. Fun fact you need to have USD already on hand to get your visa, thankfully my boyfriend had us covered and had the cash. I sadly didn’t think that there wouldn’t be an ATM available in order to get cash for the visas before going through immigration. Overall, it was a simple process, give your photos and cash, wait about 5-10 minutes and bam you have a visa. From there we went to the front and hired a car to get us to our hotel.
We arrived at our hotel and it was a nice hotel. Nothing fancy but a nice quiet street to stay on. The first thing I noticed was that we had to take our shoes off before entering the hotel lobby. This was unexpected since in Korea you usually take them off before entering your home and some restaurants but not a hotel lobby. We got all checked in and into to our room when we found that our A/C wasn’t on and that the control was gone. Needless to say, it is very hot and humid in Cambodia in December. I called the front desk and they said I had booked a fan only room. I said I definitely hadn’t and they said I had to speak with a manager in the morning. Therefore, we were a bit sweaty that night and the first thing the next morning I went down and we got it all straightened out. They gave us the control and it was fine. The hotel was cute and had a great rooftop where we got to enjoy a continental breakfast every day. The rooftop also had a nice pool.
Day 1: Our first day we just took it easy and rested. We enjoyed breakfast and then got massages done at the hotel for $15 each for one hour!!! Not the best, but very relaxing. After we went out and explored a little around our hotel and the city. Where we passed the National Museum and did a little shopping. We ended up buying our first “couple” thing. We both bought the same style of shoes Nike sneakers, but not the same color. It’s a big thing to be matchy-matchy with your boyfriend or girlfriend here in Korea ( not that either of us is really into it). So I finally agreed since it wasn’t too matchy. We also enjoyed some good coffee at Cafe Noir! It was so cute and had great wooden and refurbished farm equipment decor and furniture. From there we found our way to the Buddhist temple and the old market. At the market, we did Doctor fish for like $3, but the fish were huge! It felt way different from the Doctor fish I had done in Korea with only little fish.
After that, we found Pub Street. It is a famous street as you can guess full of pubs. It was very lively and lit up for the holidays. Around there we found a place to eat and we enjoyed egg rolls, fried rice, and frog. It was actually quite tasty, much like chicken. We continued exploring and found the Night Market and looked around for a bit before heading to the hotel. On our way back to our hotel we found a Korean owned cafe and stopped to have tea. The owner was married to a Cambodian woman and they lived there with their family. Their two daughters were there as well and speak, Cambodian, Korean, and English. I was so impressed by them and their ability to speak so many languages at such a young age. It was so strange to be in Cambodia and be ordering our tea in Korean and chatting with their daughter in English and Korean.
We finally made our way back to the hotel for the night, but not before we had, had a second shoulder massage.
Day 2: We got up and enjoyed our lovely rooftop breakfast once again. From there we went to walk around downtown more and to explore more of Siem Reap. We, of course, got two messages throughout the day and spent less than $20 total for both of us. We found some nice cafe’s to cool down in and just relax and talk to family back home. It was so hot in Cambodia and you needed to take breaks and get out of the heat. By that evening we found ourselves back around pub street and my boyfriend decided to try some street food and he chose a dried snake on a stick. I tried the tiniest piece since I was worried about getting sick. On our walk home he found some less scary street food that was a fried noodle dish and it was delicious.
Day 3: We had planned to do a sunrise tuk-tuk tour of the temples but my bf didn’t feel so good, I blame the snake on a stick. So we decided to sleep in and just relax. Later that day my friend that worked in Korea with me Jillian came to pick me up for a little lunch date. We caught up and she told me all about working and living in Cambodia and how different it was and how much she loved working for the volunteer non-profit that she worked for now. We enjoyed a great lunch and smoothly together. It was funny she picked me up on her moto and she had always told me how she hated driving and now she’s just motoring around Siem Reap. It was awesome to see her and to have her drive me around! She had to go back to work, so Tae Yang and I went back to the markets, looked around, had another body massage, and coffee. That evening we met back up with Jillian to have dinner. All and all it was a great day exploring Siem Reap.
Day 4: Angkor Wat! Today’s the day. We got up at 4 a.m. to get our tuk-tuk to go tour the temples of Siem Reap. It was a bit chilly riding in the tuk-tuk at 4:30 in the morning but oh well. First, we had to go and get our tickets, where you stand in a long line (but they move pretty fast) and then they take your picture (was not expecting to have my picture taken that early ha). After we found our tuk-tuk again and headed for Angkor Wat. It was still dark when we arrived, but we and hundreds of other found our way to this pond and sat around the pond and waited. It was about 45 minutes or so until the sun started to come up. But it was totally worth the wait, it was so pretty and you felt such a calm all around you. After it had fully come up we got up and went to look around the temple. It was beautiful and it was crazy how much of it you could walk around on, climb, etc. It was the closest I’ve ever been to an ancient ruin.
After about an hour of exploring we went to find our tuk-tuk. From there, he took us to (Bayon, Baphoun Phimeankas, Royal Palace, Preah Palilay, Terrance of the Leper King, Preah Phithu Group, Terrace of Elephants, and Chav Say Thevada), Takeo Temple, and Ta Phrom Temple. They were all very beautiful and fun to explore and of course take many pictures. We ate while at one of the temples and where there were some little restaurants. After 7 hours of exploring and picture taking we headed back to our hotel by 12 p.m. Which was nice since it was starting to get really hot. We showered to get the dust off of us since surprisingly the roads are mostly dirt roads in Siem Reap. Then we had a little nap and got up to go enjoy Siem Reap some more.
We finally tried a Khmer massages the traditional Cambodian massages and they were very similar to Thia massages but still nice. We met up with my friend again to have a drink with her and her bf. After we went back to the hotel and enjoyed dinner on the roof of our hotel.
Day 5: We took it easy and just relaxed by the pool at our hotel for a bit. After we checked out and we went to stay our night at our fancy hotel that I booked for our last night. It was really nice when we walked in they put scarfs on us, gave us a cold tea, and a cool wet towel. It took a bit for them to have our room ready but then once it was, it was really nice. After we relaxed at the hotel for a bit and later we went back out to have some dinner. We went back to a restaurant we had gone to a few days before, but this time we tried the quell. We had planned to meet my friend and go out for our last night. But while we waited we both started to not feel so well and then had to go back to the hotel. It seems we got food poising from what we can only guess must have been the quell. We were sick all night, but at least it was a very nice bathroom to be sick in.
Day 6: We got up to try and eat some food and stay hydrated, but we didn’t feel like eating much still. Jillian was an angel and went to the pharmacy and got us some medicine to take throughout the day and visited with us for a bit. The medicine helped a lot but we still felt awful. Our hotel was fully booked and our flight wasn’t until like 12 a.m. that night. We had originally just planned to be out and get massages, etc. but now we felt terrible. So I booked us a cheap but decent hotel for the day to be able to sleep in and be inside where it was cool. By that night my bf felt better and I did a little too but we were not looking forward to the 5+ hour flight and time home from the airport. We stayed at the hotel as long as we could then we went to the airport. Thank God that on our flight we didn’t get sick and we had the whole row to ourselves so we could spread out a bit more. We still didn’t feel great when we arrived in the early morning back in Korea so we took a cab home, slept more and woke up early. By Morning my bf was feeling much better, but I still felt nauseous at the thought of food. So, I ate some broth and crackers and stayed in bed.
Although our trip ended on a not so pleasant note it was a great and very relaxing trip for the most part. Cambodia was unlike any county I have ever been too. It was clearly poor and less developed in a lot of ways. Cows just walked around freely and stayed where they were supposed to. Chickens roamed freely and seemed to know which was their home. Little kids walked abound in all alone and it wasn’t a concern. I saw huge strings of power lines lining most streets and they looked a little like they could fall down or catch fire at any time. You would see 4 and 5 people on one moto driving down the street and fresh coconuts on almost every corner. The people we very kind and the massages were good and cheap. I was seeing a different side of travel (even though I was in a very touristy area) and it made me look at the world a bit differently. It’s a very different life in Cambodia, a poorer and in some ways much simpler seeming way of life. It defiantly made me want to travel to more places like that, to better understand their history and culture, but this trip also taught me to be a bit more cautious when eating.