Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Siem Reap, Cambodia July 11th-14th, 2010

Siem Reap was a terrific visit, the Angkor Ruins was the coolest place I've ever seen in my life. It is said that it is the largest ancient ruin in the world, it used to be 1,000 square kilometers. I am shocked it is not one of the seven wonders of the world. Some shots from Tomb Raider were also filmed here, most notably at Angkor Wat which is the single largest religious monument in the world. It was once home to Khmer Empire and is a feat to see. They also had a Pub Street which was very fun for Americans and foreigners to visit.

Culture: They are very friendly, I believe they went from Buddhism to Hinduism, back to Buddhism, it is rich from the Khmer Empire back in the day

Religion: Buddhism, just like Thailand the people are very nice, a lot has to do with what they learn through Buddhism on how to treat you

Language: Khmer/Cambodian, no need to learn it

Transportation: Cars and motorbikes, motorbikes are more common. However, the driving here is the most insane I’ve ever seen, not too bad in Siem Reap though. In the capital of Phnom Penh, there was just chaos in the street with about 4-6 motorbikes next to each other in each lane with no real rules or regulations. The roads are poor. Absolutely do not drive here!

This is even better than most of the streets, when they are allowed to go they all just turn at the same time, it is absolutely chaotic

They drive like this often, fitting three or four people on to motorbikes meant for two people. It is fun to watch them drive the children around.

Population: ~180,000

Currency: USD, believe it or not it is most commonly used here. Their actual currency is the Riel which is a huge joke, it is $4,100 Riel to $1 USD, so the money is like monopoly money

Place Stayed at: Hotel 89 in Siem Reap. It was fantastic, very inexpensive, they left us a bed time story for when we arrived. They also gave us sheets with what to do, and contacted tour guides for us for our Angkor Ruins tour. They also had a good spread for breakfast, as well as calling for us to get transportation to the Pub Streets.

Laurie opening the bed time story to read

Food: Almost all meals are comprised with rice, and some type of meat. Our tour guide told us that rice is so big there that they trade it as a type of currency. With that said, on the Pub Street where tourists go out, you can get good burgers/steaks, basically the Western food you might be craving.

Rice Paddy Field

Beers: Angkor Beer & Tiger beer were the new beers I saw here, they were decent but nothing special.

Entertainment: Pub Street was great, it had a bunch of bars and restaurants, all of which seemed good. They also sold souvenirs on this street and had huge projection screens up for the World Cup. It was nothing compared to Patong in Phuket, but a great place to relax at night time.

Internet: Did not attempt to use it, I think it was very, very poor here since the country is extremely under developed.

Sites to See:

1) Pub Street/Bar Street - A fun area for tourist to enjoy a cheap evening of drinking and dinner. A bunch of bars on the street.

Laurie walking down it

Some food, a fun shot

2) Angkor Ruins - It was the coolest site I’ve ever been to. It was once home to the Khmer Empire. It is said to be the largest Ruin in the world, it contains over 1,000 temples! It is also home to Angkor Wat, which is the world’s largest single religious monument. It was once over 1,000 square kilometers. Most people choose to try and see the Ruins within three days to one week. While we flew through it in one day. It is insanely hot and humid so dress accordingly. Also, since it is a religious area you want to dress real conservatively and wear pants. O yeah, there were also wild monkeys there also.

One of the many temples

Another temple

Yes, somehow I stumbled in to locals playing poker on the grounds, what are the odds?

Wild Monkeys right outside of Angkor Wat

The front of Angkor Wat

The money shot from outside Angkor Wat, it was quite the site to see.

Likes: Angkor Wat was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life til this day. I would strongly recommend it for any history buffs. It is massive and I’d allow two-three to see it if you can fit it in time-wise to your trip. It is massive and extremely humid, try and bring a bunch of water. You will be walking the whole day so bring comfortable shoes with nice insoles. Also, Pub Street is a fun relaxing night out.

Dislikes: That I did not have more time to see this place. Also, it is not a place to live, you can only visit as the traffic is horrendous, and other than these sites, you would get very bored after a week. It is a great place to hit and run for a visit.

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