We flew from Vientiane into Siem Reap and immediately fell in love with this compact city. With ample $1 bike rentals we were able to explore the best of the city as well as quickly escape into the outskirts and into the surrounding rural villages. The town is set up perfectly for tourists with a ‘pub street’ connecting the old and new markets with multiple bars offering all day ‘happy hour’ with 50 cent beers. The market food is amazing and the 50 cent coffee was the strongest and tastiest so far on our trip.
Temple Bar was offering a cooking class for just $10 per person, including an extra small t-shirt, so we signed ourselves up! In the cooking class, our instructor had to be either hung-over or still drunk from the night before. What did we expect, after all we did sign up through a bar :-) Good news is we had a fun time and a lot of delicious food with a large selection on the menu including fresh spring rolls, and our favorite food in Cambodia: Amok! The highlight was of course wearing our super stylish chef hats
We prepared for our trip to Angkor Wat by having an hour long dollar massage while watching a documentary on the ruins at one of the big screen movie massage parlors. We chose to explore the temples via bicycles, rather than by tuk tuk so we could be on our own schedule and started our 30 km journey in early morning alongside the school children and then had a leisurely traffic free ride around the temples with the occasional elephant crossing…
Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples are like a mashup of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones. Roaming around the vast grounds and ancient stones and architecture sent our minds spinning with awe into the past. The details in the sandstone layer blend seamlessly between stacks of blocks held together with nothing but their weight.
The vastness compares to our visit to Machu Pichu a few years ago. We did a loop hitting Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (Bayon & Elephants Terrace), out the North Gate to Preah Khan, back into Angkor Thom and out the Victory Gate to Spean Thma, Thommanon and Ta Prohm. Even though Ta Prohm has hordes of people, it is definitely a must see for the famous trees growing through and on the temples. However, Preah Khan was our favorite to explore because there were a fraction of the tourists and no fencing or paths, leaving the deserted place an open labyrinth with half crumbled roof tops, walls and even a few of the famous overgrown trees.
Explanations and pictures cannot describe how amazing Angkor Wat is, and it has easily topped our charts as ‘favorite place on the trip so far.’
Robin unfortunately couldn’t explore much on the bumpy terrain due to her injured knee, but fortunately there was little pain on the bike and we were able to talk our way into riding close up to the ruins and find ice along the way to keep up her rehab. With a bit of internet investigation we are pretty sure it’s a tear to her meniscus. After a long day on the bikes we dipped our feet into a fish tank with a million hungry little fish that nibbled away at our feet and ankles. This was a seriously weird feeling and we could barely stand it for the first few minutes because it was so ticklish.