Sunset at Ankor Wat

We started our day at the National Museum which is a modern gallery, very well organised and labelled for tourists. Typical of the type of service you are given here,  the hotel sold us the tickets and rang for a car from the museum to pick us up. Within 10 mins a van arrived and off we went to start our tour. 

We walked through the four main galleries and got a history of the Khmer Civilisation, the Khmer Kings , Buddhism and of course the Temples or Wats of Cambodia. Really interesting and a great introduction to our visit to Ankor Wat this afternoon. 

We walked back into town and felt very pleased that ‘winter’ has continued today and the weather is very pleasant. No hotter than Brisbane! 

We escaped the noise and motorcycles by having lunch at Genevieve’s a well run restaurant near our hotel. It is named after an Australian woman who gave much to the people of Cambodia. Such tasty food. 

I had green mango salad with chicken Yum. Steve and El tried Lok Lac a local beef dish served with an egg and Pete had spicy beef salad. All delicious. 

   
 
After lunch time for a siesta before heading with our tuk tuk driver out to the Wats for sunset. We timed our visit to get to the ticket office by just before 4 to buy a ticket for this afternoon and tomorrow. When we arrived it seems the rules changed and the office now opens at 5. We waited and got first tickets and were off and away. We got out there to discover hundreds of people attending what looked like a political rally. So busy! People also having picnics and laying in hammocks looking very relaxed. 

   
    
 
We walked up the hill to view the sunset with monks in saffron robes, locals with children, and a cast of assorted tourists some with a distinct aroma of BO. Some people should never wear polyester. 

The stone work at the top of the steep stairway climb was crumbling but quite atmospheric. 

   
    
 
So it was back to town and a visit to the Cambodian craft market where everything is hand made from recycled materials. Some beautiful things and we all found a few little gifts for Christmas. It was set in a lovely garden where we sat and enjoyed a beer whist watching some children put on a cultural show. 

   
    
 
By now we were tired and ready for dinner so walked back towards our hotel and the Night Markets an area full of stalls and outdoor eating. We shared a few simple dishes before heading home to bed. 

We have a 4.30 wake up so we’re out at Ankor Wat for sunrise. 

Siem Reap is proving to be a great place for a holiday. Put it on your list. 

Day 2. Late Breakfast and swim

We decided on a late breakfast followed by a swim in the roof top pool. Always a good way to start a sight seeing day. 

Then some more tripping around.  The streets along the river are full of little shops and stalls, everyone trying to make a living : some selling fresh sugar cane juice, wooden items at such a low cost it seems mean not to buy something! And the sculptures along the river walk are whimsical and fun. Elephants, crocodiles, Buddhas , feather dusters and little wooden cages I thought were for birds but are little spirit cages. The Cambodians are wonderfully superstitious. 

Pete has some wonderful stories to tell of people he’s met and the tales they’ve told him. This includes the funny children in his class who apparently as well as calling him Teacher Peter have lots of other little names for him. Seems he’s quite popular with the children. 

    
   

Night life on the streets of Siem Reap

I was told they didn’t celebrate Christmas here in Cambodia but the devotion to Christmas lights has travelled here and the streets are decorated with festive twinkly lights and as always the streets look better when dressed for a night out. 

There were lots  of little fairy lights wound around trees, poles and shopfronts and it all looks rather lovely. We took a tuk tuk –  my first ride in one and it was fun. The driver perched on his motor bike pulling  us along at a good pace,  weaving in and around other tuk tubs, people, cars and bikes. Such skill. 

We arrived at the rather grand FCC or Foreign Correspondence Club. Such clubs were big in past years and particularly the one in Phnom Phen sheltered many a journalist, sipping a gin and tonic,  during the war years. We met my friend Lynette from Brisbane. Lynette and I are in a mahjong group and although we don’t know each other well, happened to mention we were both going to Cambodia in December. She is here volunteering at the New Hope School and outreach centre. She’s been before and has made some friends here. This is something I’m quite interested in so was keen to find out about it. 

  
We share lots of stories over cocktails in the twinkling gardens before heading off to the eat areas of Siem Reap for a Cambodian BBQ where we sat around a steaming pot and cooked out meats and mixed it with the vegetables simmering in the saucer part of the pot. Good clean eating. We chatted all night with Pete and El telling us all about their life in Cambodia and hearing about Lynette’s life as a volunteer. 

  
Eventually it was good night and back to our room above the beeping horns and zipping motorcycles. Can’t wait to ride Pete’s bike in PP!