I had planned to come to Cambodia about 4 years ago, in the autumn.That was prevented, in the first autumn, by a motorbike accident in which I managed to get myself a double skull fracture, a brain bleed and a broken hand.The next autumn I found myself in the UK having moved back from Egypt to be with my Dad during his battle with cancer.Another year later autumn found me still in the UK, having married my best mate.It took yet another year to sort out jobs, the house and other things and we finally moved back to Egypt in the autumn, Cambodia still a distant dream.
During this last year I had contacted a charity in Cambodia, Let Us Create, to see if we could help out when we finally visited the country. They were enthusiastic about the skills that we could bring and so I began providing some IT support and redeveloping their website and servers remotely, while Corinne was involved in discussions about their curriculum and the education training required.Siem Riep was a chance for us to do the “tourist thing” before starting work with LUCC.
We were picked up from the airport by tuk tuk. Our driver, Sopheap, loaded up our bags and we headed off to the guesthouse. The Golden Mango was about 3km outside of Siem Reap town and after being given cool damp face towels, we were checked in and shown to our rooms. We had apparently been upgraded and the room was lovely.The hotel restaurant provided good food at a decent price and the local Angkor beer was freely sampled.
We took a (free) tuk tuk downtown and had a wander around Siem Reap. There’s a market. There’s Pub Street. Not too much else around, but the area around Pub Street has lots of bars and restaurants. There are a fair few amputees wandering around but rather than begging, they’re selling books, paintings etc in order to make a living. We sat, ate, drank, moved on, did more of the same, then went back to where the tuk tuk driver had dropped us off and agreed to meet us later.
We wandered the local area near the hotel and found the local market, where we were stared at and laughed at as, we found out a few days later, Farangs (foreigners) simply do not go there.On the way back to the hotel we found a street restaurant and enjoyed rice, fish and curry for two with drinks for £1.35. Not bad going. The locals were giggling away at us, especially when I chomped on a chilli and then grabbed everything available to cool down my mouth.
A trip to the Landmine Museum was very educational. I’d suggest reading up on the situation here and the work done by Aki Ra. If you’re ever in Siem Reap, despite the fact it may sound like a boring day out, visit here! http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/
We had to do the temples whilst in this area, so we decided on Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. What an awesome day. Hot, sweaty and tired after, but we experienced some amazing architecture and history. Absolutely beautiful buildings and Ta Prohm (the temple used in Tomb Raider) was magical. Overgrown by the jungle, there is such serenity and peace here.
Another trip into town also saw us visiting the Artisans craft centre. Watching the students being taught their crafts was interesting and checking out the shop where the goods were sold was frightening. Not cheap.
On the last night we decided to eat at the restaurant next door to the hotel, which our tuk tuk driver had mentioned was “Cambodian food” and where he and his friends ate.When we walked into the open-air garden, we were immediately escorted to a table in the centre and treated like VIPs. The menu was enticing, frogs, snails, eels and more. I had the spicy frog stir fry which was utterly amazing. Even Corinne agreed it was lovely. A large jug of beer washed it all down.Back to the airport at the end of our stay and about 2 hours later we were landing in Sihanoukville airport.