MY KHMER SUMMER
When my life took a heavy toll on work … I have forgotten or I simply never had the time to write … not that I have found it less fulfilling … but I simply never had the time. Then by some divine intervention I was “forced” to rest … I had the time but with much prodding from my one avid reader, Direk Vincent Dy Buncio, one of the artistic geniuses behind Eat Bulaga, the longest noontime show in the land, now known as EB. And if someone whose mind is as keen as that and looks forward to my travelogues … I am deeply humbled.
Cambodia … one of the most beautiful Asian country, a friend once told me. So when my close friends had their calendar cleared … we flew … not knowing that I will be flying to a new adventure that I will forever remember for the rest of my life … when my creativity is acknowledged and adored.
Best Time to Visit: Feb 17-23
Weather: Hot and Hotter … warm, humid, sunny
Outfit: Cotton / light colored / krama (Khmer scarf) / shades/ hat / sandals or Crocs (it’s personal)
Two hours and 19 minutes … Siem Reap International Airport. One airport that looks like a museum with gigantic stone statues that is worthy of my Instagram post in urhighnessqueenV.
Lo and behold, when my Agoda Voucher said … with free airport transfers … I was impressed … but when I saw the “transfer” that it was a “tuk-tuk” … my innate “social climber” instinct said not LO AND BEHOLD but LO AND HOLD IT!!!! I will ride that with a driver named Rat? This Rat touched our hearts as the days passed… a young man full of sad stories, dreams and ambitions.
For paying tourist the fares are : $7 (taxis) and $5 (tuk-tuk)
Tip #1: Never change your US Dollars to Cambodian Riel … they use USD in Siem!
The night scene of Siem Reap from the airport looks like Laguna … very rural.
We stayed in Secrets Pavillion Villa which I helped transform and can be found towards the end of this blog.
After the much practiced speech and welcome drinks from the man whom I will found out is the owner of the place who got a dose my ADHD streak, we proceeded to where the night life is. The owner is Sothearith Voeun or Sivatha for an easier recall.
We headed for the PUB STREET. The street name that made my bestie said YES! to this trip which initially she didn’t want to take. Yes, and every night … we were here!
I woke up to a coral-colored sun. This one will kick the daylights out of you. Amazing!
Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!
TEMPLE TOUR 1 CENTRAL ANGKOR (SMALL CIRCUIT)
Hire a tuk-tuk to take you to the temples $15 for 8 hours. Hire a tour guide $20-25 a day.
Tip #2: Book a tour guide beforehand … especially during peak season.
Park Admission One day : $20 / Three Days: $40 / Seven Days: $60
Tip #3: Children under 12 enter for free after showing a passport so always bring it with you.
Tip #4: Krama .Sunscreen.Cottons.Comfy Shoes … Must haves for this Temple Run
Tip #5 Take the Elephant Ride for $15 . I never did … regrets!
The Small Circuit takes in several of the major and minor temples in the area. Beginning at Angkor Wat and running for seventeen kilometers the circuit takes in the major elements of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Kdei, and some of the minor but interesting temples such as the Baphoun, The Terrace of the Leper King, The Terrace of the Elephants, the Twelve Prasats, Spean Thma and Sras Srang before returning to Angkor Wat. (Cambodia Travel.Com)
Entrance at the South Gate of Angkor Thom (Big Thom) 3-walled moated royal city. There are 2 rows of giant statues on the left (facing the gate) are the Devas (deities) and on the right are the Asuras (nature-beings) carrying the Naga ( giant serpent ).
Bayon is amazing known for its giant faces and most recognizable in Khmer Art with 37 standing towers. Massive!
Baphuon … Recently reopened after the restoration that began in 1970s. Note the large reclining Buddha on the west side. But we were so tired to enter this.
TIP# 6 : Always bring a cold bottle of mineral water.
Terrace of the Elephants … 2.5 meter tall, 300 meter long
Terrace of the Leper King … the statue was found here with its lichen-eaten condition that gave it the appearance of leprosy.
Ta Prohm … sprawling monastic complex … fig and silk-cotton trees grow from the temples. Enthralling!
Tip# 7 Guides/Drivers get free lunch in the restaurants where they brought the tourists.
THE REVERED ANGKOR WAT . Angkor means “Capital City or Holy City”. This is the centrepiece … visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking … but at 2 in the afternoon you can add swooning-ly sizzling in the adjectives…
Tip # 8 . 1st trip to this is imperative after 2pm because backlighting obscures the view.
This is a temple mountain dedicated to Vishnu. Walls are covered with bas-relief and carvings and while the guide is explaining … I just wanna walk away because I can’t understand a word he is saying … and here I was…
Vishnu – maintainer or preserver / “ to settle” In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine blue colour of water-filled clouds and as having four arms. He is depicted as holding a padma or lotus flower in the lower left hand, a gada or mace in the lower right hand, a shankha or conch in the upper left hand and a Sudarshana Chakra or discus weapon in the upper right hand. Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a ‘Universal Form’ (Vishvarupa or Viraat Purusha) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination. (Wikipedia)
ANGKOR BALLOON RIDE $ 35 for 10 minutes within the temple complex … Pretty safe because this is tied to a cable.
Tip # 9 . Best time to go is 5pm but pre-book to avoid waiting.
This is aerial shot of Angkor without using a light aircraft but needed long lens for a better pix and it is pretty hazy.
NIGHT MARKET SHOPPING – Old Market ( Phsar Chas ) . Souvenirs, trinkets and anything under the moon.
MASSAGE … to wrap up the day
1. FISH MASSAGE – $ 1 – let the fishes do the massage
2. FOOT MASSAGE – $ 1 – 15 minutes …
Tip # 11 .Try this after the Temple Run.
PAY IT FORWARD … Just do this.
Tip # 12 . Be generous. They are working hard for this … not just begging.
Take 2: Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!
TON LE SAP LAKE TOUR – Take a Tuk tuk $15 . Admission Fee: $15. No need for tour guide.
This is amazing for Caucasians or Europeans but ordinary to Filipinos. This huge dumbbell-shaped lake stretches across the NW section of Siem. Floating Villages/Community and Stilted Houses (like in Samal).
There is a floating restaurant with souvenirs and with children carrying snakes around them begging for cash if you want a picture taken with them. Sad. Why do I have to pay $15 for this … to scare myself? Will it go to the community? Do I need to Cambodia to see this while it is a common sight in my country. Was the $15 a waste … in my heart , I don’t think so.
And it got me thinking ….
Taken from : Child Safe FB Account. To find out ChildSafe Traveler Tips log on to : http://www.thinkchildsafe.org/
Tip # 13 . One of the reasons why I love to travel … learning compassion.
Take 3: Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!
The twenty-six kilometer Grand Circuit is an extension on the little circuit but taking in Preah Khan, Preah Neak Pean to the Eastern Mebon and the various monuments like Ta Som, Preah Rup, before returning to Angkor Wat and is highly recommended for anyone spending three or more days in the complex. The Big Circuit encompasses a good representation of the rich variety of architecture here. (Cambodia Travel.Com)
Preah Khan – sacred sword – huge monastic complex . This is one of my fave temples. Better because there are not much tourists.
Preah Neak Pean –which means coiled serpent. This is surrounded by a pool . Water has healing properties according to the legend.
Take 4: Breakfast … wow! Eggs with bread /butter and fruits (banana/watermelon/melon) for FREE!
More Shopping and going around town
Exhibit by John McDermott
HomeStyling … my make over in this blog …
Arriving in a Tuk tuk but leaving in Lexus … not bad at all !
FOODIE IN KHMER’S KITCHEN
STREET FOOD …
Foodie Radar … won’t stop at nothing even street food! My Saigon trip will always be remembered as my best street Pho in the world. So again I took the leap .
Now, it can be told … the Crepes sold in the street … man, you gotta try this! $ 1
Noodles – $ 1 – this is yummy! filling and cheap!
ANGKOR FLOWER …
– Home of best Coconut Shake in Siem!
1. Fried Rice Vegetable with Egg – $5 – good!
2. Fried Rice with Seafood – $6 – better
3. Fried Rice Spices with Seafood – $6 – best
4. Noodles with Seafood – great
5. French Fried (sic) with Beef Lok Lak – $6
Beef Lok Lak from Smokin’ Pot Restaurant submitted by corykaplin
These ingredients serve 1, so multiply up as you wish.
– 150g chicken breast, beef, even shrimp – sliced (shrimp would not be sliced)
– 1/2 teaspoon sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
– 1/3 teaspoon chilli sauce (optional, preferably vietnamese or chinese chili sauce)
– 1 teaspoon oil + extra for cooking
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
– 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 1/2 an onion, chopped
– A few lettuce leaves
For the pepper sauce:
– 1/2 teaspoon sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed back pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
– 1/4 of a lime
Mix sugar, salt, pepper, oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup and garlic in a mixing bowl, add meat and coat thoroughly. Marinate 30 to 60 minutes. Mix salt, sugar, pepper and garlic in small bowls (pepper sauce for each person) Add oil to a wok, sauté onions until brown and add chicken, stir fry 5 to 10 minutes, until done. Mix in chili sauce as desired. Prepare serving plates with rice and a bed of lettuce. Just before serving, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime into the pepper sauce and stir lightly. Serve chicken over lettuce with pepper sauce on side. The chicken is eaten wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped into the pepper sauce. For a little more punch, add chili sauce to marinade rather than while cooking and marinate an extra 30 minutes.
CAMBODIAN SOUP RESTAURANT
– Great Food . Average meal: $5.
Tip # 10 . Upstairs : Free Apsara Show recommended by Lonely Planet.
- Personal Favorite is the spare ribs.
- Tried the most talked about Khmer Amok (pieces of fish fillet with coconut cream, onion, cauli flower leaf, egg and traditional Khmer spices … my 1st and my last. $3.75
- Khmer Curry – Traditional Khmer chicken curry cooked with carrots, onions , potatoes and long beans in coconut cream
- Fried Khmer Spring Rolls – yum!
THE BLUEPUMPKIN – icecream
LIM KIM CHENG RESTAURANT
– Typical Khmer food in the market place
THE GOLDEN COCONUT
THE RED PIANO – made famous by the visit of Angelina Jolie
Tip # 10 . Don’t miss this bar. Try Tomb Raider Cocktail.
THE PHSAR LEU BAKERY
KHMER FAMILY RESTAURANT
Khmer Dessert – Khmer traditional dessert similar to palm fruit with ice, sugar and coconut milk
Must Have: Shrimp with Long Beans / Vegetable Rice in Pineapple Container/Spare Ribs
– Siem Reap’s Restaurant of the Year
Must Have: Angkor Palm Platter good for 2 at $ 10 : Fresh Spring Roll, Mango Salad, Local Spare Ribs Pork, Fish Amok, Homemade Green Curry, Cha Ta Kuong (stir fried water spinach) , Rice, Dessert
– found in the local Cambodian Pub Street
– Must Have: Stir-Fried Corn
Must Buy: Watermelon Seeds
Angkor Premium Beer
Bye Cambodia … see you again! What makes it a cut above the rest of the Asian countries I have visited? People are warm and nice and as hospitable as the Filipinos. May they be able to maintain what they are despite the popularity this country is gaining. We gained friends here … learned from them. Don’t lose the naivety … this makes you special and different , Cambodia.