Saturday, December 1, 2012

Siem Reap - The friends you meet

After a rather long boat and bus journey from the 4000 Islands we made it to Cambodia and our first destination, Siem Reap. We had been recommended a hostel called the Mad Monkey, so we booked it a few days earlier (yes, actual planning in advance!) and it turned out to be the most amazing decision!

I always think the best part about travelling is not the things you do and see, but the people that you meet doing them, and Siem Reap proved this tenfold.

What is the most important thing? It is people! It is people! It is people!
Our first morning in Siem Reap we made our way up to the beach restaurant and bar "Top Banana on the roof of the Mad Monkey. There we met David and Laura, from Wales and Australia respectively. They invited us to come along with them to the National Museum. It was a great way to start our time in Cambodia as we were able to see some of the history and it really helped with later visits to the temples. I would highly recommend it as a first stop!

That  night we met up with our old kiwi friends Matt and Greigh, the third place that we managed to see them after Vang Vieng and the 4000 Islands! We dragged Laura along as our token Australian and had an amazing night at Angkor What? It was great to see the guys one last time and play some traditional kiwi drinking games in the bar (eggs anyone?).

Matt, Greigh, Laura, Sonja and Kim in Angkor What?
Kim, Sonja and Laura. Cant keep us from the buckets for long!
The following morning we lost the Dunners boys from our group but gained Jacob, another fellow Kiwi from Whangarei that we met before our bus journey from Laos to Cambodia. The three of us plus Dave and Laura discovered the movie theatre in Siem Reap where you can hire out a small private theatre and choose what movie you want to watch from a huge selection of old and new. Best cure for a hangover on a hot day! That night Dan our Australian friend arrived from the 4000 Islands, another person to see again in another country!

Dave, Laura, Jacob and Sonja getting comfy for the movie
The next morning we got up at the unthinkable hour of 4.30am to go and see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Kim had a bit of a mishap getting out of the tuk tuk when she fell in a ditch. She powered through to see the sunrise though and it was well worth it!

Angkor Wat at Sunrise
The crowds of people vying for a view
 Afterwards Dave, Dan, Leslie-Ann (from the USA) and I continued on to the Bayon Temple and to Ta Prohm (otherwise known as the Tombraider temple). Kim, Jacob and Harriet (our new friend from Leeds, England - who has been teaching in Thailand for the last 6 months and is moving to Sydney for the next 6 months) ventured home.

Bayon was my favourite. I absolutely loved being able to ramble all over it exploring the different passage ways and courtyards. The way the faces all look the same is amazing.

Faces at Bayon
Ta Prohm was also good, however a bit too crowded for our liking by the time we got there.

Trees taking over at Ta Prohm
The afternoon was spent relaxing before a detour to a hospital clinic to get Kim some stitches in her leg...a bit more serious than we thought!

Wednesday found us all in need of some more relaxation time so we walked down the road from the Mad Monkey and into the first hotel with a pool we saw. We had to pay $6 for the use of the pool (a whole nights accommodation at our hostel!) and ended up being sucked into paying $6 more for the buffet BBQ lunch. Best. Idea. Ever. Delicious chicken wings, steak, ribs, potatoes, capsicum (sorry, PEPPERS), bread, salad and CHOCOLATE BROWNIE. Needless to say we chowed down on that one.

BBQ Deliciousness
Awkward Family photo. From left; Jacob, David, Sonja, Harriet, Kim and Daniel. Missing: Laura!
As that night was our last all together we decided to go hard. We started at the Mad Monkey before heading to Angkor Wat and the Temple Bar across the street from it. Awesome times were had taking over the stage and dancing back and forth between bars.

From left: Jacob, Harriet, Rani, Sonja, Dan, Kim, Laura, Rebecca and other Belgium girl. Missing: Dave!
Partying in Angkor What? Clockwise; Dave, Dan, Laura, Sonja, Kim, Harriet. Missing: Jacob!

Bromantic times with Dave and Dan XXX
Dave, Dan, Kim, Laura, Sonja and Harriet. Missing: Jacob!
For some reason I thought it was a good idea to say I wanted to do the sunrise at Bayon Temple the next morning. Not so smart when I didn't go to sleep until 3am. At 5am I heard the dreaded knock knock "Tuk Tuk??" on my door. As they pretty much wouldn't leave I sucked it up and went because I knew I would regret it otherwise. It was beautiful. Unlike the circus at Angkor Wat I was only joined by a couple and one other girl. Although the actual sunrise was not as spectacular the experience of arriving at the temple to see the full moon disappearing behind it and the magnificent structure slowly lighting up was both peaceful and beautiful and the feeling is not something I will soon forget.

The faces of Bayon emerge in the light
After sunrise
I made a second stop at Ta Prohm before going home which was well worth it also as there were hardly any people there and I was able to enjoy it much more. Kim and Jacob had ventured to the temples the afternoon we went swimming so I was able to understand why they liked it so much!

Some hilarious tourists at Ta Prohm
Jake thinking about life at Ta Prohm
Thursday saw our fantastic group of friends slowly dropping off, a very sad experience! Kim and I have met some amazing people along our travels, and have had some fantastic groups of friends, however this was the first time that we were able to spend a significant amount of time with the same group of people. I truly think (and hope!) we will all stay in contact and see each other again.

I would just like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you guys because you made our time in Siem Reap amazing. And don't hesitate to hit me up in Edinburgh or Kim in Australia! xxx


  1. another great read and love the photos. thanks for the update :)

  2. love the picture and words, that is so true. so glad you have met so many wonderful people of different nationalities and cultures during your travels. happy and fun times and making wonderful memories to recall. safe travels Kim and Sonja xoxo