Truth be told Cambodia was never on my list of places to go. And leave it to a random horrible Tuesday, for me and my cousin to decide it was time to head for some tropical weather. We kicked around a few ideas and managed to land on Siem Reap, Cambodia. A few weeks later, I was washing my hands in a Shanghai airport bathroom when we reunited (the last time I saw her was in Sept in Bali) and were enroute to Siem Reap.
We were picked up at night in TukTuk complete with reusable bottles of cold water (#refillNOTlandfill initative) and cool moist towels that were very much welcomed. The TukTuk dropped us off at the beautiful oasis: Jaya House River Park Hotel.
The next day was our catch up/rest day. The salt water pool, some time around the market and back to the hotel for a spa treatment and dinner. We were pretty jet lagged and our room was so nice that we just hung out drinking loose leaf tea and catching up. In fact, the whole trip we tried to incorporate as much lounging around as possible.
The next day we visited 3 temples: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon (seen in the movie, Tomb Raider). To say it was hot would be an understatement. It was humid and around 35 degrees celcius. I opted for workout Lululemon capris and a tank top. We were told that we needed to cover both our knees and arms, which would be fine if it wasn’t so hot. By mid day we were only covering up when asked because it was SO sweltering.
Angkor Wat is massive. You feel like you are walking forever, climbing into steep areas, down corridors and small lookout areas. My cousin and I noticed there was a slight optical illusion as you would walk down the hallway – peering down, it would look as though you were starring into a mirror. We managed to climb to the top of the steep temple (where my cousin told this foreign lady grasping to the handrail that she shouldn’t worry about me – as I work out. Hahahah) and saw how vast the entire archeological site really was. The day was filled with 3 temples, which for the mix of humidity and heat – was all we could take as we were drenched with sweat by the end of it. The night, we checked out Haven restaurant, which had a beautiful outdoor terrace.
The next day, we travelled to the countryside for a private cooking class (Countryside Cooking class). It was so much fun wandering through the market and checking out the local fares including the marinated crickets. My cousin tried them first and approved; so I took a sampling without the wings – they weren’t half bad. Almost like chips, with a salt and pepper flavor. We cooked a three-course meal including Banana Blossom Salad, Chicken Amok and for desert Banana rice cake. It was so yummy. Fresh ingredients makes all the difference. Later in the day, we checked out a pottery class that was challenging as working with a wheel is not easy as it looks. We finished the day with a casual dinner at Sinn Sisamouth Cafe and had $3 massages with $3 whiskeys with friends from the US.
The next day was a mishmash of shopping, checking out a butterfly farm, learning about landmines and the Khmer Rouge movement. I have to admit that my knowledge about this mass genocide was lacking until we travelled to the Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center founded by Aki Ra (former child soldier) . The museum has a relief center where kids live and attend school nearby. In 2016, 5 students attend university in Siem Reap. After a traditional blessing with monks, we ended the day with the cheapest street meal ever: $5 for two plates of noodles and two large fresh fruit smoothies.
I made my last day complete, by indulging in a road side $1 deep friend banana.