Day 6: Being a Tourist in Siem Reap

Exploring Siem Reap

Distance: 35km

Total: 398.4km

Cambodian​ FOD: Tourism is Cambodia’s fastest growing industry, and as a result the poverty rate dropped from 52.2 to 20.5 percent from 2004 to 2011.

Everyday Randomness: people taking selfies with Buddisht monks in Angor Wat.

Today we tried to by normal tourists but still ended up doing 35km! After a breakfast of poached eggs which was nice for a change we headed for the war museum a few km away. It was very good and surprisingly quiet given that fact. I strongly recommend you get a guide because otherwise you’ll just be wandering around in a field of tanks which may be your thing I suppose! You only need to give the guide a tip so it’s well worth it. Bizarrely, there are guns that were used in the war just lying around for people to pick up not to mention the various mines! It’s a strange experience to hold a gun, I hope health and safety don’t make it to this place as it would surely become a very different experience!

When we came out to unlock our bikes one of the keys got stuck inside the lock which is far from ideal. After some explaining the guide and his friend came out with an axe and a saw as you do. He went at the lock with the axe first which I couldn’t really fathom and we asked him to switch to the saw as the lock wasn’t exactly impenetrable. It came apart fairly quickly then and we were on our way to lunch, thank God for helpful locals!

We had just looked up restaurants nearby on lonely planet and rather arbitrarly​ choose Mahob (which means food in Khmer) located on a quite side street. A very swanky establishment featuring an intro to the chef on the first page of the menu!! I ordered something with quail eggs and duck eggs in it as I hadn’t had either before and this is what I was presented with:

It was gloriously different to anything I had tasted before and the eggs were both delicate and creamy. Scrumptious.

After being so finely dined we cycled to the National Museum which we had been told is worth a visit. Besides the ambience they very successfully create, this is not worth visiting unless you have a keen interest in religious art. At $12 it’s expensive and hard to justify how much an ordinary person can gain from it.

We want to visit Angkor Wat tomorrow and had been told that if you get your ticket the day before you can go in from 5 to 5:30pm to see the sunset. We had also been told that the sunset is only worth seeing in dry season but we said we may as well go for the experience seeing as a one day ticket costs $37. What we weren’t told and what wasn’t mentioned in the lonely planet book was that you have to buy your ticket about 4km away from Angkor Wat itself in a relatively random location if you don’t know about its existence!! 

When you do know that it exists, there is a large sign that you couldn’t miss if you were looking for it on the main road to Angkor Wat. They actually close the ticket stalls and officially don’t open them until 5pm but because we were there at 16:40 we were top of the queue and got ours by 16:50. 

We then rushed in the bikes to Angkor Wat itself and had a beautiful cycle along its huge lake as the sun set. The lakeside was full of Cambodians relaxing and taking it all in as it is free for them to enter. The temples themselves were packed with tourists taking photos, some of which were huge extended family photos!

We found a quiet spot on the grass to take in the ambience of the place; it was both spectacular but open all at the same time.

We were wrecked after the day and were well ready for dinner once we made it back. We couldn’t find the original place we were looking for so we went to a family run Indian place. We love Thali so once we saw that it was on the menu there was no need to look any further.

It did not disappoint. Unapologetically strong flavours featured in all the dishes and the naan bread was perfectly light and garlicky. A beautiful feast.

We strolled down to Pub street and had a drink in a bar with live music. The main singer was channelling her inner Beyonce as we walked in and we were instantly sold as they played a host of cheesy pop songs. They drew a big crowd and part of pub street itself had become stationary to watch them!

Here’s to another day of tourism tomorrow, it’s more tiring than the cycling sometimes!

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