Day 4: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

Day 4 would be spent mostly on a bus as we travelled from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, but we were given the morning free as our bus didn’t leave until 11 30am. Feeling a little worse for wear, Kelly (my roommate) and I stayed in bed for most of the morning, leaving very little time to actually pack. After we’d packed, we rushed out to get some food, but on the way back I realized I’d lost the room key. This was only a minor disaster, as the hotel unlocked our room for us and I paid a whole $1 for a replacement key. We made it outside just in time for the bus, although as it pulled away Kelly realized she had left her passport in the room so had to run back and get it. We spent a few hours on the bus before stopping for a break. Getting off the bus we were greeted by various market stalls selling fried insects and spiders, unsurprisingly nobody fancied any of these for lunch. The next leg of the journey was much longer, although everyone on the bus spread out so most people had two seats to themselves, making it a little more comfortable. Long bus journeys haven’t been as bad as I imagined, it’s a good way to catch up on sleep, see different parts of the country and rediscover all the random music I’d forgotten I had on my phone. We reached the hotel around 8pm then headed out for dinner (in the pouring rain), then returned to the hotel. Our room has bars on the windows so it vaguely resembles a prison cell, there’s also a bar on the street below our room which provided us with loud music through most of the night as we tried to sleep.    
 

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Day 3: Angkor Wat

Day 3 began painfully early at 4 30am, sadly this wasn’t quite early enough to beat all the other tourists to the best spot for sunrise photos in front of the Angkor Wat pond. Getting a good picture that doesn’t feature a selfie stick was quite a challenge. Disappointingly it was too cloudy to see the sunrise but the temple itself is spectacular regardless. Our tour guide showed us around the temple and explained some of the stories told by the intricate carvings that cover the walls, as well as insisting we take lots of group photos. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world and is surrounded by a number of other temples. We also visited Prasat Bayon and Ta Prohm temple, where the filming of tomb raider took place. This temple was abandoned and has been taken over by massive trees that have grown through the walls and statues. 6 hours of temples in the humid Cambodian weather was more than enough for all of us, so we headed back to the hotel, stopping for lunch on the way. Once we’d caught up on some sleep, my roommate and I headed out to explore Siem Reap, we found a market and did some shopping (I now have quite a collection of elephant print trousers). That evening our guide decided to take us to his favourite bar after dinner. The ‘Yolo bar’ featured lots of UV lights and rum & Coke for $1 (needless to say these were quite popular). After several rum & cokes and a few games of jenga, we headed to Siem Reap’s Pub Street and went to Temple club- imagine a temple but with loud music, a dance floor and lots of strobe lights. A good night was had by all and fortunately there’s no early start the next morning. 

  

     
  

 

Day 2: Bangkok to Siem Reap

My second day in Asia began with a 6am start; after a quick breakfast our group boarded the bus and we set off for the Cambodian border. When we reached Aranyaprathet, the border town, our bags were unloaded onto a wooden cart, the type you would expect to be pulled by an animal, but it was actually pulled by a small Thai women with a strange hat. Given that and the chaotic roads full of trucks, buses, cars, scooters and every other vehicle imaginable, I was sceptical we would ever see our bags again. The border crossing into Cambodia is known to be a long process, often taking 3-4 hours, luckily we already had our visas so the process was not as long for us. After about an hour and a lot of walking, we cleared the Cambodian border and to my surprise we were reunited with our bags. We were then met by another bus to take us to Siem Reap. Our evening in Siem Reap was spent at the home of a local family, which we reached via tuk tuk. This was an interesting and slightly terrifying experience on unpaved rural roads. The family showed us around their village and cooked us an amazing traditional Cambodian meal, which included sitting on the floor to eat in the traditional way. Tomorrow we have an even earlier start (leaving at 5am!) to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat.     
  

Day 1: Bangkok

My journey started in Bangkok in Thailand; I arrived early morning and after queueing a few long hours through immigration, I attempted to find my way to the hotel using the airport train and metro system. This was not the easiest task with a 16kg rucksack and busy trains full of Thai commuters, but nevertheless, an hour later, I reached Hua Lamphong station (I managed to only get off at the wrong stop once!) and followed signs to my hotel. I spent a few hours in the hotel and by the pool, then set out to explore Bangkok. Wat Traimit, The Temple of the Golden Buddha was only a few minutes walk from the hotel, this temple is the home to the world’s largest gold seated Buddha, which is nearly five metres in height and weighs five and a half tons. The temple itself as well as the Buddha was spectacular and this was a great first taste of Thai culture. Later I headed back to the hotel to meet my tour group. Our guide gave us a brief explanation about our tour before taking us to a local restaurant for dinner. We were advised to always say ‘not hot’ when asked how spicy we wanted our food as Thai chefs like to be very generous with chili in their food. Even in my papaya salad and chicken with orange sauce, I could see where he was coming from. After dinner we headed back to the hotel for an early night as we needed to leave on the bus to Cambodia at 7am the next morning.