We left Phnom Penh but not quite how we intended, it was there independence anniversary and although we tried to get to the road that runs parallel to the river we couldn’t. They just wouldn’t let us go the way we wanted so we had to made a huge detour through the incredibly busy town until we could finally get on the road we wanted.
Busy roads and lots of army, security was tight that day !!
For the next five days we cycled to Siem Reap, passing through Udong, Skun, Kampong Thom, and Dom Dek before reaching our destination. The trip was only 350km and all on flat roads, the usual paddy fields, water buffalo and cows made up the scenic diversion. Drink stops and roadside food sustained us well and cheaply, and modest guesthouses gave us somewhere to lay our weary heads 😉
Part of the reason it took so long to get there is the general lack of places to stay, a real problem when on a bike so you end up taking the first thing you come across regardless of how far you’ve come. The other reason was a slight detour to Udong, we went to see the temple on the “mountain” that’s what they call it but it’s just a hill really !!
Lovely place with great views !!
As I said we passed through Skun, famous for deep fried tarantula spiders but we gave them a wide berth. Met another touring cyclist called Vinny from Czechoslovakia, he was heading the other way to us but we stopped and chatted for ages, we’re hoping to meet him in Brisbane !! To be honest there isn’t much else to tell about the trip to Siem Reap apart from what I’ve already told you so I’ll crack on with the good bits 😉
We’d already booked our hotel in Siem Reap and on top of that we’d found a local photographer and tuk tuk driver called Kimleng Sang and managed to hire him for two of the three days we’d be in town, we were very excited!
As we cycled towards our hotel we were looking for a place to stop and have breakfast, we happened to stop at Sister Sray Cafe, it was bloody marvellous !! We drank some of the best coffee we’d had in the whole of South East Asia, ate proper bacon and sausage, good scrambled egg and fantastic bread turned into perfect toast ! We did however spend more on breakfast than we’d spent on breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hotel for us both the previous day…..ouch….but worth it !!
Our hotel was only about 400m away so we knew we’d be back, the Popular Guesthouse was where we were staying and it was great, good size clean room with all facilities in working order and helpful friendly staff, the only slight issue was the Wi Fi was a bit hit and miss !
We completed our usual ritual of showering, washing, email and FB before we went in search of lunch, Siem Reap is a tourist town and there is no shortage of good places to eat and drink but there’re not cheap. We had a light lunch and then took a stroll round the town before heading back to relax. We had dinner later but turned in early as we’d be up at 5.30 so we’d be ready to pick up in the morning. Kimleng arrived on time and he spent the day showing us the best places to get good photos, he carried a tripod which we took advantage of and gave tips on how to take better photos which both Naomi and I appreciated. We had a couple of hours back at the hotel in the afternoon to recharge both us and the camera batteries before we headed out with Kimleng for another few hours.
We had a great day with him and felt a bit awkward when the poor man got soaked taking us home !!
The next morning we were up even earlier, Kimleng picked us up at 4.30 so we could get a good spot ready to take photos of the sunrise. We were actually the first to arrive at the waters edge and had almost setting up our tripods and cameras before anyone else showed up. But show up they did and within half an hour you could barely move for tripods, people and cameras, we still had a while to wait but fortunately there was a coffee stall to keep us refreshed and awake. As the magic hour approached we realised that there would be no dramatic sunrise this day but we still got some great photos. I think Kimleng felt a little awkward about this, though there was no reason why he should. He seemed to double his efforts to provide good photo opportunities and finally at the end of a very long day we finally arrived at Angkor Wat. I can see why he didn’t rush to bring us here, for a photographer it isn’t the best of the temples, it’s very dark and complete where as the other temples are lighter in colour and a bit more photogenic, it was still good to get some photos but I’m glad we concentrated on other parts of the site.
I have to say that Kimleng was brilliant, he knew the area so well, every knock and cranny, every little sculpture or vista was revealed by him, and a nice touch were the cold flannels and iced water….perfect !!
Well I suppose I’d better put a few photos in at this point, now bearing in mind I’ve actually got 400 photos from our two days I’m only sharing a select few…….
Selected photos from Day 1
Selected photos from Day 2
To be honest I struggled to keep it to 20 photos, it’s not that there great photos but they are photos of a great place.
Our third day in Siem Reap was to be on a tour to the floating village on Lake Tonle Sap, we would stop to look at a local market, see the floating village, the forest in the lake and have lunch at a locals home. Our guide was good and spoke excellent English, his information on produce in the market was needed as there are fruits and veg I’ve never seen before not to mention the fish and other related produce !! The floating village or stilt houses are quite incredible and we were treated to an excellent lunch by one of the families, the forest was all a bit of a blur as our driver was a little to fast to get photos but all in all an interesting and informative day…..
So that brings another blog to a close, we’ll be heading for Thailand again soon so keep reading 😉