The Khmer experience is one I would never forget. First out of country travel with mom made it so memorable. A side trip to Vietnam was an added bonus.
Traveling with a family and a friend has always been an exciting combination. You get the best of both worlds! More so, Cambodia is a “Kingdom of Wonder” - full of historical architecture and masterpiece of nature.
In every trip we undertake, we do some researching. This holds especially true with my good friend, MJ.
In this trip, we were too much on long bus rides (we took the border trip from Vietnam). And when I said long, it means 7-9 hours travel by land. Wow! Only time I did that kind is traveling to Baguio, Philippines which happens only maybe once in 2 years.
We took the Mekong Express (named after the Mekong river surrounding Cambodia) which seems to have organized, well-maintained bus lines. Thankfully, our trip was comfortable, the bus was clean, with portalet at the end of the bus. They even gave as free bottled water and a box of coconut biscuit, which surprisingly tastes good.
Arriving in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, we were greeted by a downpour. Gladly, our accommodation was near from the bus terminal.
The Mad Monkey. It was indeed mad as we were soaked and cold upon arriving. The Mad Monkey is a typical backpackers’ accommodation. Nothing fancy, registration done at what seemingly looks like a garage. We had to wait for quite some time to do our check in as there were also guests who arrived same time. After finishing, we were surprised to know we had to transfer to another gate where our room will be.
So we again had to carry our bags to the tuktuk waiting and brave the rain. You can only complain to yourself though. One of the things I learned through traveling is that you must follow how locals do it or else, just stay where your comfort zone is.
After settling in our room, we changed our wet clothes and prepared to go out, get some lunch and explore Phnom Penh. When we arrived at the market area, we noticed most of the stalls were closed…
Holiday! Wow, I was like “Is this for real?!” We only have a day to spend in Phnom Penh and it’s holiday. As said earlier, we do a little researching, and MJ was advised October is the best time to visit Cambodia. I am not sure how holiday and rain will be the best combination or is it really signs of times and climate changes?
Fortunately, while strolling around with the raincoat we managed to haggle, we saw an open boutique.
Fair enough, we went inside and see what we can get our hands on. True to its name, the items are really good buys, from bags, purses to scarves and keychains. We spent hours trying to figure out how to save on for souvenirs later as every piece is so unique and designed well that we wanted to buy each kind.
The best part of Cambodia in whole is that they use dollars for everyday transaction. No need to look for a money changer. Yey! At the end of our buying spree, we were truly happy for our purchases.
The area was a bit quiet or perhaps because of the holiday in town. Until the evening, there were raindrops but that did not stop us from exploring the city. Below are some places we went to.
Phnom Penh is pretty much an active city at night with a lot of lights, shops and restaurants coming alive.
The following day, we were bound for another city of which offers many historical wonders.
Off we went to Mekong Express again. The trip is shorter than the travelling time from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. Out of our 6 days trip, we would be staying here for 2 days but due to unexpected circumstances, it totaled 3 days.
Siem Reap is more laidback than Phnom Penh. The province is full of nice people, willing to help and the view is as amazing as their locals.
Siem Reap Rooms Guesthouse. We were fetched through a tuktuk at the terminal going to Siem Reap Rooms. The hostel is located in a quiet neighboorhood. The facade looks like a huge house with only a signage that alerts you it is there.
Upon entering, we immediately felt the warm welcome of the 2 gentlemen which acts as the front desk agents as well. We were asked how our trip was and they were in full smile like we were close friends for so long. Our welcome drink arrived as soon as we sat down. Interior is made of wood as well as their furniture. It seemed like we would be staying at a log cabin. Nevertheless, it felt comfortable.
We booked a room with two double beds which is just located at the 2nd floor. It was quite clean and the turn down service is done everyday. They also gave reminders to keep our personal belongings safe as there might be incidents of stealing. Oh well, in any place, you must always be vigilant and responsible for your own things.
We were truly excited to start our Siem Reap journey just right after putting our luggages down.
And indeed, in the hours that came, every minute was an adventure. Our photos were proof of how rich this peaceful Siem Reap town is. All those to be witnessed on my next posts.