Featured Travel

3D2N Solo Trip at Siem Reap, Cambodia

June 6, 2017

If you are interested in visiting Siem Reap soon, stay tuned, I’ll be sharing a Recommended Itinerary, Budget and Tips for this trip soon! πŸ™‚

I’d been yearning for a solo trip to somewhere around Southeast Asia for a while now. Initially, I wanted to do a solo backpacking trip to multiple destinations around Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, but due to financial constraint and various commitments, I ended up picking only one destination for a short trip. I picked Siem Reap as I had always wanted to visit Angkor Wat. Also, based on my research, it seemed safe for a female to travel alone, and it’s an affordable destination from Malaysia.

As this was my second time traveling alone (read about my first solo trip to Washington DC), I was more prepared and less afraid before the trip. I booked my tickets and hostel online, gave my parents a brief itinerary of my trip (flight number and time, name and contacts of my accommodation, and a brief idea of where and what I’ll be doing there) and I was ready for my adventure.


Day 1

The first day of my trip was spent resting and exploring around the city centre. After landing, I took a remork (Cambodia Tuk Tuk) to my hostel at the city centre. You’ll be charged a fixed rate from the airport counter for different transportation options and it takes around 25 minutes to arrive the city. After dropping off my luggage at the hostel, I walked around town to get a SIM card and checked out the local market.

The first thing I learned about Siem Reap was that the remork drivers are all overly friendly and pushy; the second thing I learned was that beer is cheaper than water. No joke. Everywhere I went, the drivers would be standing by the roadside asking if I needed a ride, one even rode down the street just to persuade me over and over again. As for the beer, see image of receipt below for reference. 

I originally planned to head to the floating village at Tonle Sap Lake for sunset and dinner in the evening, but it started pouring around late afternoon. I ended up extending my nap at the hostel (didn’t sleep the night before due to early flight) and met up with another female solo traveller I met earlier that day for dinner and drinks at Pub Street.

The good thing about having an early morning flight is that I got a good view of dawn when I was up in the sky.

Sticky rice and banana wrapped and grilled in banana leaf, sold by some roadside vendor who couldn’t speak English at all.

Central Market – there’s everything ranging from local produce, food, Cambodian clothes, hardware to beauty parlours!

Price of a pint of beer vs. a 400ml small bottled water =.=

Local Khmer meal – (clockwise from top) fried chilli and basil with chicken, fish amok, Khmer style soup, and fried morning glory

$1.50 cocktails at the little street vendors around Pub Street! #yaytocheapalcohol

 


Day 2

I dedicated my second day entirely to the Angkor temples. At 4.45AM, Min, my pre-booked remork driver, picked me up from my hostel and off we went to get my 1-day entrance ticket and see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Despite the chattering of the crowd and loud introduction of some tour guides, I was glad to be able to witness the sun rise from the corner of the ancient temple. I went into the temple right after I caught a shot of the sunrise and managed to avoid the huge crowd that came in after me.

That day, I visited Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei (those around the small circuit of Angkor complex). Min would drop me off at each location and wait for me at the dedicated parking spaces outside of the temples. I was actually pretty jealous when I saw him napping at a hammock on his ride while I was sweating my ass off climbing around and getting lost amongst the stones and moss and Buddha faces. 

Despite my Christian background, I do like some of the Buddhist teachings and I find its history fascinating. Therefore, I really enjoyed walking around the ancient holy ground a lot, and even got a red bracelet as a blessing from a monk when I was there. 

Sunrise at Angkor Wat βœ”οΈ

Top of Angkor Wat under the blue, blue sky 

One of the kind humans who helped this lonely girl take photo at the ancient temple πŸ˜‚

The intricate carvings are just awe-amazing!

Min, my friendly driver of the day, representing Central Hostel yo πŸ™ŒπŸ˜‚

Min stopped his vehicle by the roadside and offered to take a photo of me with the pretty Buddha arch of Angkor Thom

Beef lok lak with rice and fries at a random stall opposite Ta Keo for lunch

Ta Prohm, famous for its appearance in the movie Tomb Raider, was my favourite temple among all that I visited. The giant tree roots growing around the temples are just so fascinating!

Got my blessing from this kind-looking monk πŸ™ 

Gotta admit, this Buddha statue hidden in the dark alley is pretty dope eyh?

It started raining when I was at my last stop and unfortunately Min’s remork had no rain cover. He stopped by a mini stall by the roadside and got me this plastic bag poncho because he felt so bad. :’)

As it was also raining the rest of that day and I was exhausted from visiting the temples, I just rested and enjoyed cheap drinks at the hostel bar with people I met there. 

 


Day 3

Last day – ate more good food, did some shopping, got a hair wash, and went back home! I’d been eyeing for a nompang since I arrived, and was excited to hunt down a stall where a few local Cambodians were waiting just down the street. As expected, the baguette sandwich was. so. good. The skewered pork and pickled carrot was so juicy and the combination with the crunchy vegetables was amazeballs! 🀀🀀

I decided to get a hair wash at one of the market beauty parlours as my scalp was itching from sweating too much the past few days.* The local hairdressers couldn’t speak English at all, so all I did was pointing at the shampoo, water, asked “how much”, and got the wash. I even managed to get my hair braided by showing a Google-d image! It’s definitely an interesting but good experience.

And that’s pretty much it, I then had lunch at my hostel bar and left for the airport on a remork (this time with a rain cover), with a fresh scalp, a beautiful braid, a red string bracelet, and a pashmina scarf feeling like a Cambodian princess. Hahaha jk, but yes I definitely had a good trip!

* Don’t worry, the temperature was around 31Β°C in May and it’s bearable, I was having an excessive sweating problem due to my antidepressants.

Trust me, these stalls where you can’t really communicate with the vendor serve the best food!

Nompang, a baguette sandwich similar to the Vietnamese banh mi, served with a skewer of grilled pork with pickled carrots and veggies and some other things that I don’t know.

Me at the sketchy beauty salon in the market. We were all giggling and smiling awkwardly throughout the process because we couldn’t understand each other. LOL 


How I Feel About Siem Reap and my Solo Trip

Siem Reap is a culture-rich place filled with really kind and friendly people. While the town is not as developed as Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, with very little cars on the road and no high-rise building, most locals are equipped to assist you due to the surge of tourists in the past years.

The population was young, with the oldest range between 40-50 years old, due to the dying of most older people during the Khmer Rouge dictatorship in 1970s. I honestly didn’t realize that I didn’t see any white-haired, old people around until a friend I met at the hostel pointed it out. I guess besides witnessing the ancient history of the Khmer Empire, I also learned a lot about recent Cambodian culture and civilization.

As for myself travelling alone in the city, I never once felt unsafe as I was going around as an Asian female. The city centre and the temples were always filled with people, and except for the remork drivers and market vendors who hiked up prices because I was a tourist (just like everywhere in Asia), everyone else I met was really nice and helpful. I definitely had the much needed self-reflection time while exploring the city and temples on my own, and I’m just grateful for the privilege to be able to do that! 😌 

And…. that’s all about my solo trip at Siem Reap, Cambodia. Till my next one! πŸ˜‰

 

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