September 7, 2018

Siem Reap, Cambodia

This trip was quite a random decision as we were checking out flight tickets earlier this year to coincide with school holidays and the time that my parents would be around to look after the kids. So after checking when we could get cheaper flights, we found reasonable round-trip tickets on Malaysia Airlines to Siem Reap during the August school holidays, and my parents would also be around during that time. This was the first time to Cambodia for the both of us.

It was a very early morning flight, transiting in KL, so we left the house around 5.00 am to catch the 6.30 flight - pardon the blurry faces lol.


The sun was rising as we were approaching KLIA.


We had about 3 hours transit in KLIA so we had breakfast at the lounge before boarding the next plane to Siem Reap. The flight from KL to Siem Reap took about 2 hours. I had researched a few hotels before our trip, and asked some friends and even my sister on where was good to stay. However after having looked at all the options, we decided to go with Anantara Angkor Resort as we had thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Anantara Riverside in Bangkok last year. For the price we paid, the room included complimentary airport transfers, tuk-tuk rides to and from downtown, breakfast for 2 and evening lounge cocktails. Here we are in the very comfortable car which came to pick us up from the airport. They provided cold towels, bottled water and some snacks.


Siem Reap is a small town, so the hotel is located barely 10 minutes drive from the airport. It is a small boutique resort, with only 39 suites and their deco is traditional Khmer style.


This was the resort's salt-water pool. 


After a very easy check-in (I had the option to check-in online a couple of days before arrival), we were escorted to our room, and we were pleasantly surprised to receive a complimentary upgrade to a huge beautiful suite - the 3rd largest in the resort. This must be because I had informed them that we were celebrating our wedding anniversary :p




The room even had its own jacuzzi tub and massage beds.




After freshening up, we went downtown to look around and have something to eat. Cambodia is famous for its fruit shakes costing USD1 or less (these cost USD0.75 each). USD is the common currency used in Cambodia, although they do transact in their local currency as well, which is riel.


This is their local dish which is called "amok", a curry cooked with fish and coconut. I found it a little too watery for my liking, though.


We also tried some other local food.



In the evening, we went back to the hotel for our evening cocktails. We sat overlooking the courtyard and it was quite lovely when it started to get dark. We went to bed early that night because we had to be up at 4 am the next day!




The next day, we booked a private tour with the hotel to visit what Siem Reap is famous for - the temples! We decided to start with a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat and the hotel packed a nice picnic breakfast for us. The tour came with a tuk tuk, driver and tour guide. It's a little bit pricier compared to other tour operators, but we decided to go with the hotel for the convenience and reliability.


Our guide Thy (pronounced Thi) took us to a nice secluded spot opposite the lake where we could catch the sunrise without the hoards of people. The lake was calm so we could get a nice reflection. Spot the 5 towers of Angkor Wat!


The 5 towers are clearer on zoom:




We visited the 3 main temples - Angkor Wat, Bayon (Angkor Thom) and Ta Prohm which was made famous by the Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie. We took so many photos that I lost count but here are some of the nicer photos which we took:

Angkor Wat:




Bayon: 





Ta Prohm:




After a short rest in the afternoon (and a nice long soak in the jacuzzi), we had more cocktails and then headed to town to do some exploring. We tried local food again, and this time the amok was slightly better than the one the previous day.




The next day, we had a proper breakfast in the hotel. The buffet spread was not that extensive, but it was quality food and delicious. They also served a bread basket to our table (which we asked them to reduce the following day since we could not finish it and didn't want to waste) and we could order other things from the breakfast menu which were not in the buffet.




This was a Khmer omelette which was on the menu - it didn't look like much but it was very delicious!







We even had bubbly for breakfast! :)


After breakfast, we explored more of the town. We went to this duty free mall called TF Galleria which had most of the luxury branded stores (it was full of China tourists lol) which was next to the Angkor National Museum. 


TF Galleria also provided a free shuttle to any one nearby destination, so we decided to go and check out Artisans Angkor where we could see the craftsman at work.




From there, we called our hotel tuk tuk to fetch us back to the hotel. The hotel provides a free phone which we can use to call them whenever we need a ride back.

Back in the hotel, it was raining, so we had some drinks and cake and snacks on our balcony.



In the evening, we again headed downtown and checked out the night markets and the famous Pub Street!



Very happening places with pubs lined up on the street (not surprising lol):


This was the best local food which we had on this trip - this whole set (which was enough for the both of us) was USD7.


And I had my ice cream roll fix - there were easily 20 to 30 stalls selling this at the night markets/Pub Street alone. Not sure why but we just picked one - single flavour for USD 1.



All too soon, it was time to leave the next day. One last photo at the pool before checking out:


And we received this lovely farewell gift from the hotel - a nicely wrapped packet of their local pepper. Thank you Anantara Angkor Resort for looking after us so well!


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