Nothing beats an introduction to the heritage and richness of Cambodia than seeing the beauty and magnificence of the Angkor Wat temples first hand. That explains the starting point of our trip to be in Siem Reap and we had 9 team members + 3 more from Ying Chang's family all having an exciting pow wow there. Once again, the Auberge Mont Royale took care of us exceedingly well and I have Mr Prim, the Cambodian Canadian owner, to thank for his exceptionally warm hospitality.
I had earlier planned to just meet the group in Phnom Penh on Sat but I had managed to finished my teaching so it was fun to go up there to surprise my mates. Pete flew to Spore from Perth and joined the rest of the boys onward. They arrived into Siem Reap at 330pm while my bus arrived an hour earlier. It was easy to spot them a mile away as they all came with Samsonites suitcases and boxes, all excited like children.
Dinner that night was at Khmer Kitchen. Good traditional Cambodian cooking which we all enjoyed followed by a visit to the famous Night Market. Siem Reap is very much alive and vibrant with all sorts to offer. Pubs, restaurants, shopping and even an open air under the stars spa. Pedicure/Manicure starts at US$2!
During Happy Hour, draft beer can be as low as $1! There are also very nice French restaurants to romance the evening away if one wishes. However, the gang had to retire early as the Angkor Wat tour required an early start to the tune of a 530am set off. Thus, breakfast had to be taken at 510am and the wonderful Auberge kitchen staff obliged with bright smiles in the darkness of the morning. I however had a leisurely breakfast during normal hours and they do it so elegantly.
As I have been to the temples countless times, I decided to do my own little excursion. Rented a cheapie bicycle and rode 17km out of town to see the floating village of Chong Khnies. It was very special to ride pass green rice fields and small villages in the cool, crisp morning. I passed a European cyclist along the way and she was in no hurry. It took me about an hour to get there. The end point was very well organised with facilities built to accommodate tourists going for cruises.
It was nice to meet up with Papa back in Siem Reap town at the Red Piano. He was out shopping and we caught up over cold drinks and snacks. This pub is also known as the Tomb Raider Pub as Angelina Jolie is said to patronised here during her filming session.
Anyway, the rest of the gang, all tired from climbing Angkor Wat soon showed up and we had a merry time exchanging stories. Roland, being the avid photographer, took some awesome sunrise shots!
I spent the afternoon doing some shopping and spa. Dinner was at the famous Touich Restaurant and it was by grace that we could get a table. What attracts is the adventurous bumpy journey there in the dark, passing by even creepy tomb stones. The service and food were marvellous and no wonder they are doing so well.
After dinner, it was back to the night markets once again for us. I love lying down under the moonlight and stars at Baray Spa having a foot massage, and one cannot have too many of these. As they say, we should reap while we can...