Siem Reap

I couldn’t leave Cambodia without writing a short post about Siem Reap.  Angkor Wat tends to steal the thunder, but Siem Reap was a total blast on its own, too.

My hostel was pretty close to town, so it was a short walk into the main area with the majority of bars and restaurants.  The centre of town is touristy but pulls it off in a way that other cities can’t; the entire place is packed with backpackers and expats but all integrating with the locals in a really unique way.

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Angkor What?

The most traditional way to spend a morning in Siem Reap is watching the sun rise behind Angkor Wat.  It’s a cliche for a reason; it was well worth the early morning.

My Tuk-Tuk driver picked me up at 4:45am in total darkness.  We left town and drove towards the temple complex, still in complete darkness. It felt surreal to be in the Tuk-Tuk with cold air blowing on my face but seeing absolutely nothing.

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Angkor: Grand Tour

I completely fell in love with Siem Reap. Cambodia feels like a dream; Somehow four days feels like a lifetime.

I arrived in Siem Reap early Friday morning after a long journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap, with the addition of a nine hour layover overnight.  I was met (after some delay) at the Siem Reap airport by a Tuk-Tuk driver, Devi, who would come to be my partner in crime for my entire stay in Cambodia.  The drive from the airport to my hostel was fantastic – I was exhausted but the fresh air kept me awake and I very quickly fell in love with travel by Tuk-Tuk.

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Waiting in line to run our bags through the scanner and cross the border into Malaysia, those living in Singapore longer than my two weeks started listing the things they would buy.

First on the list was of course cigarettes, with a pack costing about $12 to buy in Singapore, which, next to Malaysia’s $1, was excessive. I’d already been warned that I’d be required as a non-smoker to fill my cigarette quota on our way back into Singapore – the entry allowance is one opened pack of cigarettes with one cigarette removed.

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Intro to Indonesia

This weekend was spent in Indonesia, a short one-hour ferry ride from Singapore. Palau Bintan is the largest of the Riau Islands that sit just south across the Singapore Straight, almost directly on the equator. Bintan and its neighbour island, Batam, serve largely as holiday get-away destinations for tired Singaporeans and Expats alike, but there’s also some local life in the remaining small villages around the islands. Other than tourism, the main industry is fishing, and they’re definitely not lying when they say it’s the best place for seafood in the area.

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XO Tours, Ho Chi Minh City

For my only evening in Saigon, I booked a Foodie Tour.  Normally I try to avoid organized trips and tours, but with such a short amount of time in Saigon, I decided to risk it and take a night-time tour.  The tour was run by a company called XO Tours who employ almost exclusively vietnamese women.  They are really enthusiastic about showing you the local side of Saigon, and they took us to five different districts to taste vietnamese street food where the locals eat it.  The best part? We got from place to place on the back of one of Saigon’s millions of scooters.

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