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Many people are surprised when I tell them we are going to Cambodia. Everyone thinks Cambodia is not safe. To a certain degree, I agree. There is one purpose to come to this country – Angkor Wat temples. Yes, we came because of the Angkor Wat. It’s awesome. You have to see it yourself.
The capital of Cambodia . We arrived here late morning with a little trepidation. How safe is the country ? The third day in this city, my fear was completely gone. However, we did exercise some caution. Do not go out alone in the night. Back to the hotel by eight in the night.
PP is the city of many contrasts. Many dilapidated buildings are still around. Not many tall buildings. It is very touristy at the riverfront, needless to say. Everything is quoted in US currency. Some roads are not paved, hence, very dusty.
Places we visited in PP
National Museum – it is at the river front. Entrance fee is $3. Not a very big place but enough to spend about 2 hours.
Toul Sieng Genocide Museum S21 – despite it peaceful courtyard perfumed by the fragrance of francipani, this was place where unimaginable human atrocities took place during the Khmer Rouge period. A sobering visit.
Choeung Ek Genocidal Center – Entrance fee is $2. A little far from town. There was a long stretch of dirt and bumpy road leading to this place. Very dusty.
Phnom Tamao Zoological and Wildlife Center – Entrance fee is $2. It took about 2 hours by tuk tuk from PP to reach here. Some animals here were saved from injuries. This place was at a hilltop. At the base leading to the hilltop, we saw many elderly beggers lining up a both sides of the dirt road.
Central Market – a yellow building about 10 minutes walk from New York Hotel where we stayed. A place where you find anything on this planet. Interesting to watch but bought nothing from me. Sorya,, probably the only high-rise shopping centre in PP was nearby.
Mekong Island – we were introduced to this place by our 3 days tuk tuk driver, Sron. It is an island where fishing and making silk were the main activities for the villagers. Need to cross a small river to reach here. It was a rustic island to spend a lazy afternoon. Not much to see.
Places we stayed in PP
New York Hotel – promotion price at $75 for three nights including breakfast for 2 and free airport pickup. Location is good with nearby eating places.
Paragon Hotel – near the riverfront. Good location at $20. Came to this hotel by chance because initially we wanted to stay in IndoChine 2 but was full. No regret.
IndoChine 2 – 2 minutes walk from Paragon. $20. Room was big.
All tourists come to SR for one reason – to see Angkor Wat. We took a 5 and half hours bus ride from PP to arrive at SR by Mekong Bus. Once reached the station, we were all swamped by many touts wanting to take us to their guesthouse. Competition was very intense. Reason was because by taking you in their car, they hoped to secure you for the next 3 day visit to Angkor , I reckoned. Stayed at Two Dragons guesthouse after reading many good reviews from TT. Homely feeling. Nice and safe with free coffee and tea. Stayed four nights at $22 per night. A little far from town, I felt.
Angkor Wat is awe-inspiring beauty! Imagine its glory during its heydays. The restoration done was spectacular. It was a beautiful sight during the sunset. We booked a tuk tuk for 3 days visit to Angkor , paying $12 each day. It was hot, very hot. Brought water, hat and sunglass. Of course, there were some vendors selling water and food but price was ridiculously high.
Bought 3 days temple pass at $40. Personally, I felt one day pass was enough to cover the main temples in Angkor . A word of caution. Angkor Wat was so crowded when we were there, you just cannot imagine it. Go very early to beat the crowd
Places we ate in SR
Singing Tree Cafe (Wat Bo area)– garden setting, a nice place to have a cup of drink. Butterflies Garden Rest(50m east side of Siem Reap river) – also in garden setting. Butterflies flied freely here in enclosed garden. A little pricey but they supported some charities.
StarRise Rest – a Khmer nondescript place for cheap and good food – near to Mom’s guesthouse
Hawaii Pizza House – a cosy and warm place to have your dinner – opp Home Sweet Home guesthouse which was next to Two Dragons.
Blue Pumpkin – bread cum cafe. Because of the heat and it was internet friendly, many people camped at the cafe during the afternoon heat.
The second largest city in Cambodia . Reason why I wanted to visit Battambang was the boat ride. Indeed it was worth the 7 hours ride leaving from SR at about 7.30am. Paid $13 each for the ride. There was not enough seats. Some needed to go and sit on the roof. You would be baked ! It was just too hot. It was scenic.
Stayed one night in Royal Hotel for $18. Decided to leave for PP the next day. Took the 5 hour bus ride by Capitol bus. Good road condition. Ticket was $4 from the hotel.
Basically, there were few public buses in Cambodia . Plenty of cyclos and tuk tuks around. Need to agree the price before boarding. We were lucky to meet Sron, a 25 year old promising young man. He was honest and likeable. We decided to use his service for the 3 days we were in PP. Coincidentally, after we came back from Battambang to PP, we met him and decided to ask him to send us to the airport. A nice man. To airport by tuk tuk was $5, by taxi was $7.
While in PP, we took tuk tuk to everywhere driven by Sron. It was nice and windy if you do not mind the heat and dust. As tuk tuk is moving in a slower speed than car, this is good way for sight-seeing.
Children of Cambodia
They were poor and deprived. However, their smiles made my day !