Day 5: Sisophon to Siem Reap: surviving on wine gums

Sisophon to Siem Reap

Distance: 106km

Total: 368.4km

Cambodian FOD: traditionally birthdays are not celebrated, but it is quite typical to spend up to $9000 on a funeral!

Everyday Randomness: getting free bottles of water from the petrol station guy because he felt sorry for us that the only thing we had to eat were wine gums!

A bright start to the day saw us tooking a nurturing noodle soup breakfast in the local breakfast hotspot. I wish it had been open last night as the food was good and the owner attentive.

Fuelled for the morning we headed off early in anticipation that the road would be busy with tour buses heading to Siem Reap. As it turns out the road was quite quiet. There were no villages of note or much at all really but the cycling conditions were ideal so we pedalled on.

The expansive paddy fields were very impressive, the water buffalo that resided in them even more so. While the conditions and landscape were pleasant the lack of food options was not. There was not a single restaurant or cafe past 10 o clock and we eventually stopped at a petrol station so that I could go to the toilet and ate the only food we had: a packet of wine gums. The guy at the station took pity on the sad state of affairs that we had found ourselves in and gave us water. He even tried to stop us from paying him!

We struggled on for another while until we eventually found somewhere that served food, albeit were were only 20km from Siem Reap itself at this point. It was a popular spot with the locals but the food was dodgy enough. It was like the meat from a shepherd’s pie but with tonnes of Worcester sauce or something. We essentially just ate the rice and didn’t delay as there were a lot of stray dogs around who weren’t in the best shape.

When stepped outside we realised that the heat had seriously intensified. We were grateful for the shade that the roadside trees provided for the next 10km but once we reached the city’s outskirts there was no where to hide. Even with factor 50 suncream on we still managed to get sun burnt! Some sharp tan lines ensued:

Siem Reap is a lively town, I’d struggle to call it a city. It is teeming with tourists and tuk tuks, and the main streets are cool and great for a browse. It’s Cambodia’s second largest city which is hard to believe but it does sprawl out with resorts and hotels on the road to Angor Wat so maybe that explains it.

We arrived at the hostel (pension lodge, cheap and cheerful rooms, grand pool, good rooftop, good location) and went straight down to the pool area. Our university final year results were out that day. Liam got his very quickly but the system was down for me so I had to wait a couple of hours but it was worth the wait! To celebrate, we went up to the rooftop bar for a few drinks which was the perfect place to relax and sip away!

Scrubbed up and headed to the infamous “Pub Street” for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Besides a few slightly tacky street stalls the street itself is a really good spot for a bit of people watching and music. It is hard to get a decent picture of if with the hundreds of tourists trying to do the same so this one will have to do! Sure as an Irish person you couldn’t be homesick!!

We had a fantastic dinner, including our first spring rolls of the trip (besides the ones we made ourselves) and then headed across the road for the pub street special; a cocktail bucket. In fairness it was gin and tonic which is pretty classy and we had just received our results so I’m ok with the decision!

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