Leaving Laos and heading to Cambodia, I didn’t know what to expect. I had fallen in love with the beauty of Laos, something that was totally unexpected. I’d even considered staying in the country for longer after I’d been offered a job – thanks to the guys at Don Summers!
As I stepped foot onto the bus heading to Siem Reap I had no idea what to expect. From fellow travellers I’d spoken to, I’d got a marmite-like reaction. They either loved Cambodia or hated it. I was eager to explore the country and find out for myself, what it was really like. And of course, I had my Dutchie friend Demi to join me.
First stop in Siem Reap: Angkor Wat
Siem Reap is most known for its iconic temple complex at Angkor Wat which is considered to be the world’s largest religious building.
Angkor Wat is said to have been built by the Cambodian god-kings who each strove to better their ancestors’ structures in size, scale and symmetry. It’s a World Heritage site and rightly so as the carvings and detailing on the temple walls are rich in history and culture.
Today the temple remains in the heart and soul of Cambodia. It even takes centre place on the country’s flag!
To see Angkor Wat you can either chose a one-day ($37), three-day ($62) or seven-day ticket ($72). My and my friend chose the three day ticket.
For us this was the perfect amount of time. Visiting the temples does involve a lot of walking in the scorching heat so just be prepared with plenty of water and sun scream. I’d say if you aren’t a big fan of temples / history the one day tour is enough as it still includes the main temples.
On the first day of the tour, we thought we’d go to see the sunrise. We arrived very early at 5 am, but so did the other thousands of eager-eyed travellers. It was a beautiful sunrise, but I’ve got to say it wasn’t the best. I felt the beauty was somewhat lost in the crowds of people with tripods, selfie-sticks and flashing cameras.
Instead of watching the sunrise I ended up watching the people in the crowds. It may have not been the best sunrise I’ve seen, but it was the best place I’ve been to people-watch!
And if the pictures aren’t enough you can watch a short video I made below…
Many travellers and holiday makers come to Siem Reap just to visit Angkor Wat, but there’s also much more to do in the city.
A bit of a random one, but I thought I’d try out being a potter for the day. Not a Harry Potter fan girl, I mean actually making some pottery from clay. Reading about the Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre which was established in 2006, me and Demi were inspired to give the craft a go.
High-fired porcelain and ceramics are a significant feature of Khmer cultural heritage. Today, the revival of this art contributes to the educational, social and economic development of Cambodia’s disadvantaged communities.
Nearly 100 local families including women, children and people with disabilities have been given employment opportunities through the Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre. The centre provide extensive on-the-job training and once completed are offered employment to develop their livelihood and future.
The organisation’s aim is to ensure that no individual is excluded from the ongoing ceramic art revival.
If you’re looking for a Swayze-Ghost moment you won’t find that here. Instead you’ll be immersed in culture and be guided through how to make pottery by staff who are mostly deaf, but are excellent sign communicators and very patient.
Both me and Demi had never done any pottery before so it was quite difficult to begin with, but like I said above the staff are incredibly patient and help you every step of the way!
The whole experience cost $20. It included being picked up and dropped off from your hostel/hotel, a bottle of water, hands on experience making and designing 5 different pots and having a pot of your choice fired, glazed and delivered to you the next day.
We both had a great time and it’s fun for all ages. In our pottery class there were a family of 4 and the little kids (around 8/9 years old) couldn’t stop speaking about how much they loved the whole experience!
Read more about Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre here.
KTV a.k.a Karaoke
After my first ever experience of Karaoke in Bangkok (see here), whenever someone mentions or even suggests Karaoke I just up at the chance! I’m an awful singer and wouldn’t be surprised if people covered their ears when I sing, but I think karaoke is just hilarious. There are quite a few karaoke places not only in Siem Reap but also all over Cambodia. Big thanks to our tuk tuk driver and his friend for having a laugh with / at us at Karaoke!
And lastly, a trip to Siem Reap wouldn’t be complete without a night out in Pub Street. The city’s nightlife scene features bars, cocktail lounges, restaurants and nightclubs that stay open (and busy) until 4 in the morning.
If you think it may be quiet on a weekday, then think again. The street is pretty much busy all week. For backpackers it’s the ideal spot – perfect for bar hopping and meeting other travellers. And if that hasn’t persuaded you enough, you can even grab a local beer for as little as $0.50! For now that’s it from me.
Ciao for now Globetrotting readers! If there’s anything I might have missed off leave a comment below.
Current location: Blogging from my peaceful green hotel… I’ve taken a few days out from hostel living before I head to Vietnam. More about that on the next blog post.