After a four-and-a-half-hour BUMPY bus ride from Phnom Penh and maybe two hours of sleep, we arrived in Siem Reap around 4:30 a.m. I had a bathroom experience that made me think I might be part of the new “Hostel” movie on the way to Siem Reap, which I’ll tell whoever wants to know about later. I’ll just say…It. Was. CREEPY. Anyhoo…once our bus arrived, there was a tuk tuk driver waiting for us to bring us to our hotel, which was such a relief. After about 10 minutes, we got to our hotel (actually, a B&B). The guy at reception was just what we needed. The first thing he said to us, “I can see you’re very tired. We can handle check-in in the morning.” (With a great big smile, mind you.) Nate and I were pretty much shocked, given our last 18 hours in Cambodia. The man at reception then carried our bags up three flights of stairs and led us into our already air-conditioned room. The room was great. The shower felt fantastic. And the bed was WONDERFUL. After washing Phnom Penh off ourselves, we passed out cold around 5:00 a.m. We woke up to the sound of roosters (and our alarm) around 8:30 so we could catch breakfast. Was the first morning I woke up without a backache.
We were both tired after breakfast. Nate fell asleep for a bit, but I couldn’t, so I dinked around while he slept. Once Nate woke up, we decided to take a walk around Siem Reap. Siem Reap is definitely more developed than Phnom Penh, likely due to Angkor Wat tourism. It’s a small city, and incredibly “Asian” quaint. (If you ever come here, you’ll know what I mean.) We went to the Old Town market and spent our whole day there. I took a number of pictures. There were some fantastic spices. I’m not kidding when I say I bought about $200 worth of spices for $15. I bought a HUGE packet of saffron, along with various curries, teas, etc. Even some soup mix for Tom Yum, which I’ve fallen in love with. I got a Pashmina and cool scarf, too. Nate went on a spice and scarf binge as well.
After a couple hours, we headed back to our hotel. We were both dragging ass and in need of sleep, so while Nate slept some more, I got a massage, hoping it’d help me pass out. (For $6 for an hour, I mean, why not???) I still couldn’t sleep. Nate woke up when I got back to the room, and we were both pretty hungry at this point, so we headed back to the Old Town market for lunch. Afterward, I was on the hunt for jewelry. My plan was to wait until I got to Chiang Mai to do my shopping, but given the wind Siem Reap has put back into my sales here in Cambodia, I felt the need to do my usual “jewelry thing” to capture the great experiences of this day. For those of you who don’t know, I have two traditions in how I remember my traveling: I collect magnets of the places I go to, and I buy myself jewelry when I’m in various places. (Both collections are getting more eclectic as the years go by.) After a lot of searching and PROFUSE sweating, I found a pair of earrings and two rings that I’m very happy with. While at the market, I kept saying to Nate that I was sweating like a whore in church. If you saw me, you’d have agreed…
The shopping gods then came in to tell us it was time to leave, which means it started raining. So we headed back to our hotel, hardly using our umbrellas. The cool(er) rain felt great. We also stopped to grab some water and beer on the way.
If there’s one thing I have to say about Cambodia (at least, here in the north), Khymer hospitality is phenomenal. Both times we’ve gone back to our hotel, there’s been a person there to greet us, hand us a cold, mentholated towel. I can’t even describe how wonderfully refreshing it is after a hot, humid day.
We enjoyed Siem Reap so much, we haven’t even made it to Angkor Wat yet. But that’s next on our adventure. Early tomorrow morning. The plan is to make a really long day of it. Via tuk tuk. Capped off with a pre-going-to-bed massage, of course. (I’ve already scheduled it. So it’s on. Like Donkey Kong.)
Thanks to my current beer buzz, induced from a couple “Angkors,” I’m happily/hopefully on my way to passing out and getting rid of this ass-dragging. It seems perfect that the tag-line for Angkor beer is, “My Beer. My Country.” I mean, how hilariously “Budweiser” is that?
Finally, as much I’d love to have my phone, mainly for a manner of entertainment and convenience, I’m pretty much over what happened. (I do, however, keep squeezing my left hand, wishing there was a way I could have held on to it.) I figure, I’ve been doing this traveling thing for 10 years now and haven’t had something like this happen yet. So I guess it was just my time. It’s definitely made me smarter. So…thanks, Siem Reap. You more than made up for a poo-poo start to Cambodia. From what I’ve heard, tomorrow’s gonna be great. I can’t wait!