Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cambodia Diaries: Top 10 Things To Do

The city of Siem Reap in Cambodia is quite small. It can be explored in three days. More if you take the time to soak in the culture, sit with the locals and take your time exploring the expansive temple grounds on a bicycle. 

On our visit, we stayed for four nights and five days. They were pretty laid-back. And we pretty much covered the things we wanted to check and even discovered some nooks that were awesome in our book. 

If I were to list down the Top 10 Things To Do in Cambodia, the list below would be the absolute must. 

1. Explore the Temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, Pre Rup, Bayon, Baphoun and Phnom Bakheng. Now, if you are brave, check out the Jungle Temple of Beng Maelea some 80 kilometers away from Siem Reap. See my posts on the blog for some hint.  

2. Check out the night scene of Pub Street. It's teeming with tourists at night.

3. Cambodia is hot. And it's particularly tiring when you're walking around the temple grounds all day. Head to Blue Pumpkin for some refreshment, cozy lounges and sugary desserts. It's their version of Starbucks; virtually everywhere. 



4. Enjoy some cocktails at The Red Piano. Made more famous by Angelina Jolie. Expect this to be crowded all the time at the ground level where there's al fresco dining. 
 
Tomb Raider
5. Tucked in a side street called Lane Street is Miss Wong. Foursquare describes it as gay bar. It may be a hangout of gay people but it's not the typical gay bar. It serves good drinks and the place is real classy. 


6. And then there's Angkor What? I think it's famous because it sounds so juvenile. We tried going in but I think it's not for everyone. 


7. Bicycle your way in and around the city. The Khmer people bikes around, all the time. Siem Reap is the most bike friendly city I ever encountered (well, I have traveled to a few places only). I think the bikes here outnumber the motorized vehicles. 

Bicycle rental is USD 2. 



8. Check out the Night Market. Caveat though, most products sold are made in China. If you should buy there, make sure that you buy the nicely-bottled spices produced by the 
Spice Farms of Siem Reap.


9. If you have the time and resources, visit the floating village and the Silk Farm. Both require a hefty USD 35 tour fee. 

10. Check out the pagoda's in the city. 
 
Go have fun in Cambodia!

Xx

Sheng

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cambodia Diaries: The Temple of Phnom Bakheng

Most, if not all, of the temples in Angkor Wat are in ruins; in different degrees of severity. That is why rumors have been circulating for years that at some point it will be closed for restoration works. 

UNESCO, the Cambodian government through APSARA are hand-in-hand in preserving and restoring this archeological wonder. It's not only relevant for its religious significance; the engineering and architectural designs are noteworthy, too. Until today, it's still being studied by different experts, the world over. 

Time and political strife had been too unkind to the Temple of Phnom Bakheng. It's a temple that sits on a hill that provides a breathtaking view of the Angkor Wat Temple. 



Today, in spite and because of the influx of tourists, the temple only allows 300 visitors daily. It's too sacred to the Khmer people that guests who are in shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed to go up the hill.
 



 


Phnom Bakheng is also famous for its awesome sunsets. At around three o'clock, visitors are already flocking to the site to set up and be ready to capture that Siem Reap sunset. 

Unlike in Pre Rup, the sunset view here has an incredible horizon to lend any sunset shot a very romantic texture. 

Don't forget to put it in your temple list when you explore Angkor Wat. 

Xx

Sheng