Siem Reap – home of impressive archaeological sites

I am writing from Battambang where I arrived today by bus. It is pretty hot here and I am sweating like a pig. Some weather forecast pages claim that it is 34°C. And tomorrow it should be 35°C…

I came to Battambang from Siem Reap which is located in the north of Cambodia. It is famous for it’s archaeological sites of Angkor. Angkor is a vast area that has many remains of ancient temples. I was told that one should visit the Angkor temples (also UNESCO World Heritage site) at least for two days but I was pretty sure I’d be fine with one full day. And I was happy that I went there because the remains were very fascinating and impressive but I was right –  for me one long day in Angkor was enough. In total I spent three full days in Siem Reap.

Unfortunately I was feeling a bit sick on the night before leaving to Siem Reap and on the travel day I felt sicker. When I arrived to Siem Reap I measured fever and found that I had a small fever and I had a headache. I decided to take it easy and not do anything on that day except eat and sleep. Like I wrote earlier I spent one long day at the temples but on the other two days I didn’t do anything special. I ate, went to the vast market area and bought a few things. I also went to see a movie to a cinema but it was a bit different kind of cinema than I am used to. Siem Reap has only one cinema and it is a “private cinema”. There are 10 movie rooms in Angkor Cinema and one can choose a film from a wide selection of movies that the staff will play for you. You need to be at least a group of 2 because then you pay 5 USD each. If you are alone, you pay 10 USD. The rooms have comfortable seats and a small movie projector screen. The quality of the projection wasn’t superb but it was ok. I went to the cinema with another traveler and we ended up wanting to watch The Great Gatsby. I was thrilled that they had it because it is too long movie for me to watch at home but of course, with my luck, they couldn’t show it. We had to choose another movie.. So the first movie that I’ve seen in the last six months in a cinema was Hercules :-D Not a very good movie but Hercules looked good!

I liked Siem Reap on most parts even though there aren’t really much to see except the Angkor temples. Well yeah, they have couple of museums and a crocodile farm but they didn’t seem to be interesting enough.. One thing that I really hated were the tuk tuk drivers. Most of them were nice but there were few really nasty fellows who didn’t like that I didn’t want their taxi services. They shouted either in English or in Cambodian something mean and sometimes other tuk tuk drivers laughed to their “funny” jokes.

Also my arrival to my hostel didn’t really go smoothly. My tuk tuk driver said to me at first that he knows where my hostel is but he tried to leave me to another hostel which clearly wasn’t the right place. Even he admitted that and then said that he doesn’t really know where my hostel is. He really wanted to ditch me but I decided to play a little “drama queen” act and started saying things like “I trusted in you when you said where my hostel is” and “I am very disappointed that you lied to me”. I also said I wouldn’t pay because we agreed on that he would take me to my hostel. Suddenly the tuk tuk starts moving again and while he is driving he is saying that he actually knows my hostel but he knows that it is full.. I decided to act a bit more and say melodramatically that “why did you take me then to the other place”. He knew that I had a booking.. he remained silent. The story got even more weird when we arrived to the right hostel. The receptionist lady looked at me with a face that said “wtf are you doing here” and she started repeating that they are full. At this point I had to really calm my nerves. I said that I had a booking and finally she found it from their papers. Then when I get to the room it is not even full, and it never was full during my time there! There were couple of other single girl travelers who had experienced the same. The whole thing was like a really bizarre movie scene. I decided to stay there because it was cheap and after Sihanoukville’s hostel I wanted to save some money. I was very suspicious about staying there but I decided to take a risk and face everything from an adventurous point of view. My trip had been too good and I had no interesting stories in my hand! In the end everything became normal and everything was ok. The staff actually became nicer every day, and it was hard to even believe the experience from the first day to be true. The best part was that after the tuk tuk driver took me to the right hostel and I had paid him, he asked me: “So what time will we go to the temples tomorrow?” I wanted to use a bit stronger words but I just said that “I have no specific plans yet and good bye“.

Comments about the Cambodia Backpacker Guesthouse:

  • cheap! 5 USD per night in a mixed dorm
  • towel included in the price, breakfast not
  • free toothbrush, a comb, a soap and a green liquid that I haven’t checked what it is
  • free refill of water
  • internet wasn’t very good sometimes
  • they had a cute baby and a dog named Billy :-D (nastiest dog ever)
  • the bed was a bit hard
  • the hostel has a very nice and sweet tuk tuk driver who took me and another traveler to the temples
  • quite close to the main market area, even though it was on the back-alley (but I felt safe even when it was dark)

Btw I highly recommend the Giant Ibis transport company. I took their bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and paid 15 USD (+1 USD because of internet booking). Maybe it was a bit pricy but it was worth it. It was easy to book via internet and you get an e-ticket, the bus had a good air conditioning, lots of space for feet, you get a free water bottle and a tasty bun. It is the best bus I have ever used!