The night was spent at Pub Street - the most lively part of town. Pub Street transforms itself into a hive of activity ranging from quiet bars, to disco clubs that serve cheap and affordable draft beers, alcohol and snacks. Also in Pub Street consists of Happy Pizzas that serve Marijuana Infused Pizza (Which I obviously could not try) and a variety of local cuisine. Street stalls are rampant and a majority of the stores were selling food like fruit juice, flavored pancakes, and BBQ skewers.
I settled down at a bar directly opposite a disco club where I savoured a mug of draft beer at only $0.50 and a beef skewer ($1.50). Music and atmosphere was great, where the disco opposite played great club music.
It was late, I got some breakfast and walked back. Passing through the Angkor Night Market, where a once quiet street transformed into a bright and lively street. Overhead lights were lit, and people walked in both directions. Walking into Angkor Night Market, I saw that it consists of several bars and multiple shops that sell almost the same thing - scarves, handmade soap and shirts of Cambodia. It's repetitive content made it sort of a boring place to walk around.
I headed back to my hostel, and prepared for the next day - a full day at Angkor Wat for Sightseeing. Join me, next week for the next day!
Morning was blue and quiet. It was 6.30am, a light breeze blew as I set foot in the town of Siem Reap. I was indeed, in a state of excitement. At the entrance, there where lots of Tuk Tuk Drivers. I thought maybe the demanding ones where bad peeps linger, so I walked out more in search of a driver.
I met a driver, probably in his late 20s that offered me a ride for Free to my hostel. It sounded absurd at first, but after getting to know him better, he looked more like a nice person (Was I being too nice?). He spoke almost perfect English, in a right tone and looks legit. Thus I took up the ride.
The ride was great. Lots of cool wind and fresh morning air, amidsts the rustling city of Phnom Penh. During the ride, the driver and I discussed on destinations to go in Siem reap. Despite having made an offer to BatMan Tuk Tuk, I went ahead to schedule an Angkor Wat visit ($30) with him tomorrow. He mentioned that we would head to buy the tickets later. In about 10 minutes, I've reached my hostel - One stop Siem Reap Hostel.
One Stop Siem Reap Hostel is a young and newly established chain of hostels that provide accommodation to various travelers from all walks of life. It features rooms from mixed dormitories to female ones, to single rooms too. In addition, the hostel has a in house cafe, roof top swimming pool and laundry service - more of it in another post!
Having booked my stay from Agoda, I read that check in time was stated as 12 noon. It was 7.30am. What should I do?
I first dropped my bag and went to ask the receptionist (which tried his best to help me ✌️) where I learnt that Cellcom is Cambodia's largely used mobile service provider. If you had read my previous post, I bought a useless SIM card that only works within the airport. Thus, I need another one that works!
I headed out of the hostel and explored the area around. The area around was quiet and shuttered in the morning,
but as researched, the area would transform into Pub Street in the evening.
I first got breakfast at a nearby restaurant. It turns out it was a Chinese restaurant that serve Chinese food. I ordered a bowl of Beef Soup Noodle ($2.50). The beef was plenty and it's broth was well cooked. Served with Chinese tea, it was a great start to the day. It was then that I found out that restaurants don't accept large notes such as a US 50 bill - lucky I had small change!
I then visited the old market. The old market was situated amidst a busy junction, where it sold a variety of products from fresh vegetables to poultry to home goods such as electrical and fashion accessories. However, there where many shops distinctively
selling similar goods, purposed for the tourists.
I walked far, exploring places and back alleys in
broad daylight. Siem Reap was indeed a beautiful city with great people around. However, it's streets are a challenge to cross.
I visited the Angkor National Museum, where I learnt more about the ancient history of Cambodia. It was an informative journey, despite the high entry cost ($12). Nonetheless I did not regret going there as I wanted to find out more about the Angkor and its history.
Lunchtime! I got back to the hostel for some lunch, a plate of fried rice for $2.50, add a can of Cambodian Beer ($1) - sumptuous indeed.
Finally, it was time meet up with the driver to get the tickets. The tickets for angkor wat had moved to a new location somewhere 1km East away from its existing building. It's building represented the looks of a royal palace, had large spaces and a number of ticket counters. Processing was swift, and I got my tickets immediately. For a 1 day pass, it costed me $20 where tickets for longer periods would cost more.
The driver then took me to Old market where I can get some dinner. During the journey we spoke and I asked him what foods should I try while in Siem reap. He mentioned about trying fish amok, a curry made with fish and vegetables.
Upon reaching, I got some snacks and munched away as I went look for dinner. I found dinner at Old market. A plate of fried egg black sauce noodles.
Tune in soon for part two of day one!
I couldn't sleep. I never felt so sleepy yet excited before, ever since my last overseas trip to Bangkok in early 2016. With my passport and essentials readied, I set off to my journey to Cambodia. I met my girlfriend, Emily (tell ya more next time) on the way there and we took the train all the way to Changi Airport. A world class airport with excellent service, there's more reasons to be excited for. Hours passed and I boarded the plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
9pm: I touched down to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. After the amazingly smooth immigration (no queues at all!) I went out and bought a SIM card at just USD 5. It gave me 3G, enough to last just the airport area. Soon after, I got a Tuk Tuk Ride to Giant Ibis Bus Terminal. Presenting, the most costly ride ever. I think I got cheated >< At $11, I got to the terminal, where my bus only started boarding at 11.30pm. I had about 2 hours to spare.
Little did I knew the day I entered Phnom Penh, it was their nation's public holiday, Pchum Ben, also known as Ancestor's Day. Through Tuk Tuk drivers, I found out that the festival is a 2 day event where families gather to pay respects to their departed loved ones then celebrate the night off through family gatherings. Thus result in the hive of activity near the terminal - Phnom Penh Night Market.
Honest Review: It's not made for people of height 1.7m. Stalls covers were short, and I literally had to bend over just to walk around. Plus point, it was lively yet had food and music. It was supper time! I ordered beef skewers ($1.50) and a bowl of Chicken noodles ($2). I must say, the skewers where the bomb. Sweet, salty yet tasty, accompanied with Cambodia's commonly found salad. Made a great combination of flavors. The chicken Noodle was abit like just instant mee. At least it came hot and served with shredded chicken meat. I finished the meal with sugar cane juice ($0.50).
Soon after I retired to the seats at the terminal, waiting for the bus. Fun facts, Giant Ibis is one of the newest bus companies in Cambodia serving daily buses from/to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Each ride costs $15 with a choice of seating. Each bus comes with an attached bathroom and a complimentary bottle of water, plus wifi and charging port. Packaged with the bed consists of a fresh pillow and a fresh blanket. Bed mattress are thin but suitable for resting.
11.30pm: The midnight bus arrived and I boarded the bus. Being a sleeper bus, shoes had to be taken off and placed in a black plastic bag for storage. It was a 6 hour ride to Siem Reap and my space was a slim yet short bed with the aircon directly on top of me. The bed was slightly small yet comfortable enough to rest. In fact, I found it hard to sleep as the space was small and compact compared to those at the bottom level. The road was very very bumpy. Hence it was difficult to sleep. With the help of the offline maps in my Maps.me app, I was able to know where am I without even a data connection. Remember the SIM card I bought at the airport? It doesn't work at all, maybe there was no coverage.
06.30am: I reached Siem Reap. The highlight of the trip :) I'll tell you more in the next few days! Happy Traveling!
The idea about backpacking in Cambodia happened exactly a year ago while i was at my cousin's birthday party on 29 September 2015. I still remember, i didnt even knew how to spell the word Angkor Wat! As months pass and my national service comes to an end, i started to find out more about the country using YouTube and researching it using Google and Guidebooks. From there, i was able to get hold of small bits of information from every book or information i came across.
About 3 months before the trip, i chanced upon a offer for discounted travel via Jetstar, which gave me largely discounted price to travel.
From there I gave myself about 1 month to decide on the accommodation, where it was based on comfort, cost and user reviews.
As a consistent user of TripAdvisor and Agoda, I relied on it to give me accurate analysis on the accommodation I chose before booking it. In planning wise, I pre planned things to do - Financials and the trips essential items to travel. Important Documents were backup to the cloud and available over print and digital formats. The plan was being foolproof, and being prepared in event of any emergency.
A week before the trip begins, I begin preparations for the trip. Preparations include changing money, packing my bag and setting aside expenses.
So what you're seeing here is a detailed report of my thought process before the fun begins. Check back soon for when the fun begins! ✌️