Its the last day just about or so or almost somewhat in Siem Reap. Tomorrow is a travel day after 2pm. I go from here in Siem Reap to Battambang for two weeks. It takes the bus a few hours because there is not a road that goes straight there and one must turn this way and that to get there. Its okay though because there is not a thing waiting for me there. No big plans tomorrow for arriving besides to eat some dinner and check the evening out in the city.
I planned for two weeks in Battambang and then decided to stay in Phnom Penh for about 12 days and finally Kampot for 10 days which gets me to 21 January when I fly to Singapore. I have not been back in Singapore since 2011. Before that though I was a frequent visitor since a company I worked for had offices there. Often it was a few day stop over and then flying on to Chennai India. It will be nice to be back there for a week. Still have friends there that I’d like to see but the main thing is the walking in the city again and just take my time, eat the food, visit places and take the photographs of the usual stuff.
Getting back to the leaving of Siem Reap though, I have to say this has been one of the better stops for me. I really like the city a lot and the places you can see in a few weeks are simply outstanding. The food scene is amazing here folks. There are restaurants at every price level for every taste. The Khmer restaurants are lovely little places where a dinner and a beer can be had for under $5. Most also offer western cuisine and I’ve had French fries instead of spring rolls a few times. If you are after nicer places to eat, there is no lack here either. Its not just Pub Street which is somewhat over-priced for the food. I found a Khmer restaurant there which basically had marked up the local dishes by dollars but it was the same stuff. Lok Lak or Amok or whatever but just costing more. You can walk a few blocks and find the same stuff for dollars cheaper. I went to Pub Street not to have Khmer food. I had pizza there and some decent Mexican food a few times when needing that. But get a bit farther from Pub Street if you want to find a good cross section of foods. Sok San Road is ideal for that and its a busy road with hotels, pricier residences, and hostels all lined up. The restaurants range from local places to more western style dining. All places it seems have dining outside where you can sit and watch the evening unfold and the people wander by.
As you can tell, food is a big deal for me. I happen to love to eat and I love testing and tasting the food no matter the cost really. I sometimes want a bowl of green curry, rice, and a spring roll. Other times I want a BBQ or a western style breakfast. I tend to find those places or ask others where such places exist out there. That’s how I found Sister Srey Cafe by the river. If you are wanting breakfast, I strongly suggest a visit. Prices are not way down there but if you are wanting something like a plate of hashed brown potatoes, an egg, and bacon on top; this place delivers the goods. It is my only real recommendation since sometimes breakfast can be challenging.
Food is not the only thing that Siem Reap has going for it. History and archeology are simply incredible here. The temples vie with each other to amaze and delight you and sometimes challenge in climbing or finding that one picture of the face at the Bayon Temple. Some want to read a favored temple and I have one. While Angkor Wat is incredible and I saw it at sunrise Bayon temple is by far the best. Its stone carvings and mysterious faces cut in stone are incredible. You have to see Angkor Wat but you must see Bayon Temple. Then there are the rest lined up with all different things you should see. I took two tours that the hotel gave me but was left to my own to see the temples each day so I just wandered around and took lots of photographs and read the information on the sites from the historic context to efforts to preserve and protect the antiquity.
The temple are so important folks. They are a bridge between the past, today and tomorrow much like what archeology does. It is not the face carved so much as the message translated across the times. The art and science and work and grand tapestry it all provides. There should be some mystery so you keep coming back for more. In the Antelope Valley in the Mojave Desert in California, we did not know why certain canyons in the foothills had rock art while others nearly the same did not. Something inscrutable and unknown and never defined had been at work and we shall never really know. I think that’s best for the history of Angkor too. The museum here is the other part and it provides a beautiful context but also admits to a lot of unknowns about the past periods. Its better I think to not know the “Why” of things. We can imagine or dream or wonder the unknowns.
Finally and by no means the last thing here in Siem Reap are the people. The people across Cambodia are friendly, honest, and kind. More smiles and “hellos” here from old and young you will find than other places. I was astounded before in Vietnam when people went out of their way to cross a street, introduce themselves, in Da Lat Vietnam ask for a picture from a stranger, and then wave goodbye. Here it seems even more sometimes. For an old retired guy from the SF Bay Area where people are just the way they are; its always a nice change to find genuine people here.
So I tried to not write a clickbait post and call out the 5 things or 7 restaurants or the budget items here or what to do in 24 hours or a week here. I don’t like those blogposts at all. They try to reach our lowest common denominator I think which is finding how many countries we can do in X months, how many things we can do in each country in Y days, and how to budget it all across Z weeks. The clickbait posts are just filler material to me and I would prefer reading past them to find the genuine posts. But some blogs have no genuine posts sorry to say. They are simply clickbait posts and others that are sponsored content or reviews of a shoe or a nice camera or something. I always feel like asking,
where’s the unique content? where are your feelings? I don’t need socks or a new camera. I want the real you.
I’ll always try to create content that you may love or love to hate. The photo album of 30 days in Siem Reap comes next! But first is packing up for tomorrow’s bus ride to Battambang. Another city to explore with a different setting.
See you all when I get to Battambang!