I’ve always had a strong fascination for ancient structures, or more specifically megastructures. And Angkor Wat has always been on my list of places to visit at least once in my life. Thanks to the long weekend due to the Chinese New Year holiday, I was finally able to book a short trip to Cambodia for 3 days/2 nights. This is my 4th time as a solitary traveler.
My first impression of the town is that it’s a bit toned down compared to the lively Bangkok. What surprises me the most is that while it is a heavy tourist destination, the town is too underdeveloped. Meaning, you won’t likely find the conveniences you’re used to back home, say a decent mall. And to my utter shock, locals don’t know what McDonald’s is.
There aren’t many cars around but you will see a good number of motorbikes, bikes and of course tuk-tuks. Roads are small and the town is also extremely hot and humid and very, very dusty. People are nice but not as warm and friendly as Filipinos I would say. Almost all of them speak at least a bit of English. And every thing in Siem Reap is quoted in US dollars.
I arrived late at night and after I checked in at the hotel, I went to the famous Pub Street to grab some dinner. During my first official day, I did what is expected of every first time visitor of the town: do the temple visits. I probably made a mistake of starting my tour at 9 am. The weather was scorching to the point of almost draining all my energy even before lunchtime. It was that hot and humid I was too weak to visit all the temples and had to cut it short to only seeing three.
But Angkor Wat is truly a site to behold. It was impossibly huge though but one must take his time appreciating this megastructure and just wonder how the hell did our ancestors build this thing.
After the temple visits and some lunch, I headed out to see the floating village at Tonle Sap. The terminal is chaotic but once you embark on the boat, things will start to mellow down and you will soon realize that in this huge lake, people live like how they would on land. They have everything in this floating village from markets, to schools and churches.
The last activity for the day was hiking to a temple on top of a hill overlooking the Tonle Sap Town and endless rice fields. I stayed there until sunset. And by the time I got to the hotel, I was already extremely exhausted and went to sleep as early as 9 pm.
The following day, I spent half of it shopping souvenirs at the Old Market. And by 3 pm, I did quad-biking at the countryside of Siem Reap until sunset.
After this, I went straight to the hotel, had a quick dinner, took a brief swim at the pool then at 10 pm I was already off to the airport! My vacation felt a bit rushed but at least I was able to experience the Khmer life even for just a little bit.