Siem Reap, Cambodia


This is part 4 of our 5-part December travelogue:

  1. Phuket, Thailand
  2. Bangkok, Thailand
  3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
  5. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Casey and I spent a week here, with the two main activities being a visit to the Angkor Wat temple complex and a private bird watching tour we went on.

Siem Reap 1

Cambodia requires a visa to enter for U.S. citizens, which is possible to obtain on arrival. You must bring a passport photo and USD. Amusingly/frustratingly, coming from Singapore, we had to withdraw Singapore cash from our American bank account, only to take that cash to a currency conversion stand and convert it back to USD.

Siem Reap 2

Here we are shortly after touching down in Cambodia. We took the steps down from the airplane and are about to enter Siem Reap International Airport to go through immigration.

Siem Reap 3

We made it to our hotel. Cambodia in December was still quite warm and tropical and lush!

Siem Reap 4

On the whole I didn’t care for Khmer cuisine all that much. However, this dish had red ants as an ingredient and I sort of liked it. They popped with a spicy/metallic taste and feel, somewhat reminiscent of putting your tongue on a 9V battery to see if it still has any charge.

Bird watching tour

Casey and I booked a tour with the Sam Veasna Center, a Cambodian non-profit ecotourism organization. They picked us up at our hotel at 5:30am before sunrise and drove us about 40 minutes out of Siem Reap to fields and rice paddies to watch birds. It was really great! We were amazed at how well our guide could find birds.

Perhaps the best part of the trip was the 30 minute ride in the Tuk-Tuk back afterwards. We chatted with our guide about Cambodia, its history, its politics, Pol-Pot, etc. Very interesting.

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I’m surprised this worked! Casey took a picture with her phone pointed into the eyepiece of the guide’s telescope

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Angkor Wat

The biggest tourist attraction of Cambodia is Angkor Wat. I actually hadn’t heard of it until reading up on Southeast Asian history prior to this December trip. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Angkor Wat, as seat of the powerful Khmer Empire, was the largest city in the world in the 11–13th centuries. The empire and city eventually fell and were lost to history for hundreds of years until the ruins were later discovered.

Siem Reap 15

The Angkor Wat temples are about a 20 minute tuk-tuk ride away from Siem Reap. You hire a driver for $5-$10 to take you there and then they’ll take you back afterwards.

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I found these series of doorways down this corridor very striking

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Some of the forests around Angkor Wat reminded me a lot of being home in California.

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Some of the temples are impressively tall with treacherous stairs (borderline ladders) to get to the top.

Siem Reap 22

Looking down from on top of the temple we just ascended.

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And our last stop among the ruins, the famous Angkor Wat

Mon, Apr 11, 2016 | For updates follow me on twitter