Cambodia : Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and I was a bit nervous about visiting a capital as I prefer the country, however this was a pleasant surprise and I loved it!

We arrived after a very long bus journey from Siem Reap (7 hours in total!). We stayed at the G Eleven hotel which was in a great location, with spacious rooms and a swimming pool.

We met the group for dinner and first went for a drink together before going for dinner. Again I was not a fan of this dinner. The restaurant was full of tourists and the food wasn’t great, by this point me and the girls were starting to get fed up with being treated like we were children and being escorted everywhere, and also being taken to restaurants where it felt like we were on a cruise ship! After dinner we managed to escape the group and went for a short wander before heading to bed.

The next morning we met for the trip to the killing fields and Tuol Sleng genocide museum. Again we had a guide provided, and we were meant to be taken around the prison and killing fields by a guide. I did not want to and nor did my friend, we both felt we wanted to visit at our own pace and asked to have one of the headsets provided. Our G Adventures guide was not very happy about this, however in the end we were allowed to do so.

Both were very moving and I believe it is something everyone should visit when visiting Cambodia. I won’t write much about this morning as the whole visit was very distressing and emotional. However, I am glad I opted to have a headset for both as I learnt a lot and also listened to personal stories which I found interesting.

(If on this G Adventures tour, do not pay $20 for the tour, go on your own and take a tuk tuk to the 2 locations, it is only $6 entry and you can do at your own pace, I wish I had known this myself, and believe G Adventures over charged and wish they recommended we did it on our own)

We spent the afternoon chilling in the sunshine by the pool, which was very much needed.

We went to dinner early and visited Wat Phnom Hill, which is the only hill in the city, and legend says it was first discovered by a lady named Penh. The local people come here to pray for good luck and success with exams etc. We then visited the night market before going for dinner. Myself and the girls opted to not go with the group as we were fed up of over priced cruise ship dinners, instead we went to a street food restaurant, where the menu was only in Cambodia and there were only locals eating. We all enjoyed some noodles and then headed to another place for dessert. This was one of my favorite evenings of the whole Cambodia trip. We all loved embracing the local way of life, and eating authentic Cambodian food. This evening we did not feel like we were on a ‘tour’ and we all went to bed feeling super happy!

The next morning we took the bus to Sihanoukville, post to follow!


– all views are my own 

Cambodia : Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the place you stay at when you want to visit the famous Angkor Wat, and I must admit it was one of my favourite places that we visited in Cambodia, I completely fell in love with the place.

We arrived late in the day and checked into the hotel before walking the short walk to the bustling centre of town, all the lights, street food and market stalls added to the atmosphere. We jumped into a tuk tuk and took a short ride out of town to a G Adventures funded project which was an English school for local children. We all sat on the floor and were served a delicious Cambodia dinner. The chicken amok and the noodles were super tasty and it was such a fun experience to all eat together. After the dinner we played games with the Cambodian children. The children were the friendliest and happiest and I really enjoyed getting to know them all, and some of them spoke really good English. It amazed me at even though these children live in poverty they were so happy and always smiling, it was a pleasure to meet them all.

We then took a tuk tuk back to the centre of Siem Reap and put our bartering skills to good use and bought some elephants pants, shorts, bracelets and souvenirs. We then had an early night ready for the early start to visit the temples.

We woke up at 4am and got ready to meet the group, we met at 4.50 and got on the bus. Our first stop was to buy our tickets for the day, and then we went to Angkor Wat. We arrived at Angkor Wat by 4.30 despite sunrise not being until 5.45, (we felt we got here WAY too early and we could’ve have another hour in bed!), anyway we waited around for sunrise and took far to many pictures! The cloudy weather did not make the sunrise as spectacular as expected but it was still an amazing experience and something I will never forget. Its crazy how many tourists were there for the sunrise. We then met the group for breakfast before heading inside for a tour. We explored the  temple with our guide, which I think was unnecessary as we ended up spending nearly 5 hours here! I would’ve preferred to explored the temple by myself with a guide book.

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Afterwards we stopped briefly for some more food as the group were feeling peckish, I wasn’t very hungry so had a fruit salad and tried jack fruit and dragon fruit for the first time!

The next stop was to the city of Angkor Thom which features the famous faces temple called Bayon. We first stopped off at the bridge leading to the temple and again had to endure a lot of waffle by the guide, which again I thought was unnecessary. We then drove to Angkor Thom and were taken around by our tour guide. Thankfully this time we were given a generous (!!) 15 minutes free time, so we went and took some fun pictures. From the whole day this was my favorite temple, the faces were so detailed and you could wander and study them all day! In addition this temple was less busy which was nicer. This temple was one of many used in Lara Croft.

We then visited our last temple of the day which is famous for all the trees called Ta Prohm. However, by this point the whole group were feeling tired and hungry and also fed up of the waffle from our tour guide. We just wanted to go off and explore this temple, however we had to follow the group. I am sad because I would’ve like to have stayed longer here and visited at my own pace and don’t feel like the visit did it justice. Lara Croft was also filmed here!

We then headed to lunch, however I do not know the name of the restaurant we were taken to. However I ate the nicest Chicken Amok of the whole trip. This restaurant was full of locals which was great and we loved this, and the food was even better!

We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the quad bike tour (we sure did have jam packed days!). We were all feeling a little dubious of the tour and if it was worth the money. However take my advice, it is so worth the money and one of my highlights of the whole trip. We all got to drive the quad bikes through the Cambodia countryside, zipping down dirt tracks and across rice paddy’s. The whole experience was incredible, and we even got to watch the sunset whilst enjoying a beer! We ended the trip completely covered in dust, and nearly crashed into a cow and I wouldn’t change thing! I would recommend to anyone visiting Siem Reap to do a quad bike (ATV) tour!

We then all went for dinner, the place we were taken to was awful. The service was slow and the food was overpriced and not tasty at all, even the cocktails were not good, and to top it off the whole restaurant was full of tourists (we wanted to get the authentic Cambodian experience and eat like the locals), the whole restaurant felt like a cruise ship especially when the started playing the whole Abba playlist on YouTube!

Some of the group headed for a night on the famous pub street, which is where all the backpackers go. We had such a fun night visiting a number of different bars. I also ate a spider and a cricket!!

The next morning we were leaving to go to Phnom Penh. I opted not to do the optional activity of visiting the floating village and had a chilled morning with some of the girls. We visited a coffee shop for a tasty frappe and then chilled by the pool.

I had the best time in Siem Reap and would love to go back, what a highlight of the trip!

 

– all views are my own 

Dao Vegan Cafe – Sihanoukville 

I am absolutely loving the Cambodia food here however sometimes you want something other than rice and noodles 3 times a day!

So when we came across the vegan cafe on our arrival to Sihanoukville  you can imagine the sheer delight on our faces. We just had to go for breakfast, we skipped the free breakfast before the boat trip and headed to the cafe.

The cafe was situated right by the pier above another cafe with views over the sea. The menu was amazing so much to choose from it was hard to decide. I went for the pancakes which were incredible but two of the girls had avocado and spinach on toast and the other had banana and peanut butter on toast which both looked equally delicious.

The food tasted super fresh and healthy and just what we all wanted! We all also enjoyed fruit smoothies which were incredible.

I would recommend this cafe to anyone visiting Sihanoukville!