Angkor Adventures Part 14 (Final) – Adieu Siem Reap

Nov 3, 07 at 12:05 am

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Click here for Part 13

After the bored apsara show, again, we went back to Pub Street to wind down ourselves and also to try out some nice looking pubs and cafes. We didn’t need to scratch our heads deciding which to go as I had decided on behalf of them. (No point asking as the answer will be “You decide” and “Anywhere”)

We have plenty of time to enjoy so we went to this nice and comfy cafe called The Blue Pumpkin which is located across the Pub Street. It’s so comfy that you almost can fall asleep the moment you are there.

The Blue Pumpkin
Feel sleepy eh?

The Blue Pumpkin specializes in pastries, sandwiches, pasta, ice creams and selected asian food. We ordered drinks and ice creams to savor.

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Health drinks

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Ice cream selection

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Jungle jewel

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Chocolate sundae

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Angkor melba

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
Red skin

Blue Pumpkin Cafe
So comfy

We sat for 20 minutes and left for another place.

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Camwhore first (Photo courtesy of Ivan)

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Camwhore in front of the entrance (Photo courtesy of Ivan)

The next place that we went to was a “unique” bar called Dead Fish Tower. No, you won’t be able to see any dead fish.

Dead Fish Tower
Our special table on a very special “floor”

One look and you might think Dead Fish Tower is under construction. Well, it’s not and it’s their uniqueness.

Dead Fish Tower
Be careful of your steps

Maybe we came at the wrong time as there were few people. And it was hot and humid as well. We ended up sweating all over. Nevertheless, I think we enjoyed it, right? right? right? Right or not?

Dead Fish Tower
Modernized apsara dance

Dead Fish Tower
Unique

Dead Fish Tower
Beer boy

The beer was surprisingly cheap and a can of Coke is actually more expensive. Lucky it doesn’t happen here or else I’ll be an alcoholic!

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Recommended by Lonely Planet as well (Photo courtesy of Ivan)

We finally left after an hour of bull-shitting.

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Trying to be funny! (Photo courtesy of Ivan)

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The last day began with usual breakfast and we checked out after that. Since we still have ample time, we decided to return to the old market for last minute shopping.

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Old market.. no, we are not buying vegetables nor meat

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Weird stuffs

After an hour of shopping, we finally returned to the airport. We bade goodbye to the driver, hang around at the airport before flying back home.

Siem Reap International Airport
New airport

Siem Reap International Airport
One for the album

That concludes our adventures in Siem Reap. I’m glad I enjoyed the entire journey and I hope my travel buddies will feel the same too. I won’t be returning there soon as there are many places waiting for me to explore. However, if you are planning to go there, I strongly suggest you to do so as the place is getting crowded each day and it is getting commercialized nowadays.

The travel agency which I deal with is called My Vacation Travel Sdn. Bhd. located at Megan Avenue 2 near KLCC. I personally think there is no need to get a proper package as this can be arranged when you reach there later. This will allow you more flexibility to choose the places to visit and skip those unnecessary ones. While a visit to Angkor Archaeological Park is a-must, a visit to Tonle Sap is highly recommended as well. Do spend some time to visit the landmines museum which I heard is pretty informative. As for night activities, you can go for body massage or have a beer or two at Pub Street. Whatever your plan will be, do include the sunrise and sunset views as well.

Here are the links to all the previous posts I’ve written and also the photos as well.

Part 1 – On Arrival and Khmer Lunch
Part 2 – Artisans d’Angkor
Part 3 – The Killing Fields Memorial
Part 4 – Phnom Bakheng and End of Day 1
Part 5 – Sunrise and the South Gate of Angkor Thom
Part 6 – The Striking Expression of Bayon
Part 7 – Brief Encounter at Baphuon, Phimeanakas and Terrace of the Elephants
Part 8 – Atmospheric Ta Prohm
Part 9 – Ta Keo
Part 10 – Angkor Wat
Part 11 – Nightlife in Town
Part 12 – Tonle Sap
Part 13 – Cultural Village and Apsara Dance Show
Part 14 – Adieu Siem Reap

Photos – My Siem Reap Collection @ Flickr

P/S: My travel buddies, I have completed the writeup. It’s my turn now to sit back and see what you’ve got to offer me.

Angkor Adventures Part 13 – Cultural Village and Apsara Dance

Nov 2, 07 at 2:07 am

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Click here for Part 12

After lunch, we headed to Cambodian Cultural Village located beside our hotel. It’s the biggest theme park in Siem Reap or perhaps Cambodia and it is meant to showcase the Cambodian culture to local and foreign visitors. Little did we know we were all bound for disappointments…

Cambodian Cultural Village
Roaring welcome

The theme park is separated into few sections; small museum, wax museum, cultural villages, miniatures a.k.a. the one I visited in Shenzhen last year, and other unaccounted attractions. We were guided though, as the park is “big” according to them.

We first went into the small museum, it describes the virgin Cambodia during the Genghis Khan era. Okay, I made that up. It showcases some ancient relics found in Cambodia, just like the batu bersurat thingy in our country. Nothing to shout about, so the visit was like 10 minutes.

Cambodian Cultural Village
A rather small museum

Next, we visited the wax museum. Again, it highlights the important stuffs in Cambodia which we didn’t really care. One thing though, the wax models are pretty impressive. Heh.

Cambodian Cultural Village
Wax model performing apsara dance

Cambodian Cultural Village
Ugh, what was that?

Cambodian Cultural Village
King and queen of Cambodia..

Cambodian Cultural Village
Perhaps the most popular wax figurines

Phew, we were getting bored of this place but then we had no choice. In nicer words, we were learning Cambodian cultures. In harsh words, we were killing our time here. Sigh.

The very next thing we get to see was this cultural show depicting a Cambodian wedding scene. Very typical show lah, what do you expect from a free-for-all show. After that show, we rushed to another cultural performance of another ethnic. Can you imagine we need to repeat the same thing for like 4-5 times rushing here and there to catch some uninspiring performances and the best of all, the narrator spoke in local language! By the time ALL the shows were over, the sky already darkened and we were forced to visit other attractions in almost total darkness. Damn! (Sorry no photos as they don’t deserve to be displayed here)

We left at about 7pm local time and it was time for dinner. We were promised of good food coupled with apsara dance show which we have been mentioning since our arrival. It was only 5 minutes drive and the very next moment, we were picking up food from the trays. Yes, it was buffet-style.

The show didn’t start until 30 minutes later. To cut short the story, the apsara show was a letdown. The reception was good but everyone was busy with their food. Who would have thought of watching the show when your stomach is screaming for food.

I managed to capture some moments though…

Apsara Show

Apsara Show

Apsara Show

Apsara Show
What are they doing on a small coffee table?

Apsara Show

Apsara Show

In the end, no one actually know what happened on the stage but one thing for sure, we cured our hungry stomach. Whoahahaha.

Next up… the final part, let’s enjoy the night!

More photos:

Siem Reap Day 3: Cambodian Cultural Village

Angkor Adventures Part 12 – Tonle Sap

Nov 1, 07 at 1:38 am

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Click here for Part 11

Going into Day 3, we didn’t really need to rush like the day before. After having our usual breakfast, we headed to Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. This is the real gem of Cambodia as it accounts for 60% of the Cambodian’s protein intake.

The Tonlé Sap (meaning Large Fresh Water River but more commonly translated as Great Lake) is a combined lake and river system of huge importance to Cambodia. It is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hotspot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997. [Source]

We entered the lake through Chong Khneas, which is the nearest point from Siem Reap. Along the ride to Chong Khneas, we managed to get few glimpses of the local villages. The living condition there, needless to say, is far cry from what we have back home. Houses looked dilapidated and covered in mud as the flood had recently subsided. Most lower lands were however still flooded. Despite all these setbacks, those villagers seemed to be contented with what happened to them and their houses. As John explained, the flood has become an annual affair, so it’s not really a problem for them.

We were greeted by villagers living at Chong Khneas upon our arrival and they were quick to shove some souvenirs into our hands with the hope of earning a buck or two from us. We managed to smile helplessly as to be polite in refusing them.

Tonle Sap

The deafening sound from the boat’s engine did not help us at all. Poor John as he almost lost his voice when he tried to explain to us. Heh.

Tonle Sap
Floating house

Majority people living in Tonle Sap are Cambodians although a small number of them are Vietnamese. According to John, Cambodians tend to build their houses nearer to the ground while Vietnamese prefer to be surrounded by water. And talking about water, it’s the same source they use for everyday lives; bath, cook, drink, and *ugh ugh* (you get what I mean). I’m sure this is not doing any better for humans, but it’s good for the whole ecosystem in Tonle Sap.

National and local observers often state that the Tonle Sap Lake is rapidly filling with sediment. However, recent long-term sedimentation studies show that net sedimentation within the lake proper has been in the range of 0.1-0.16 mm/year since ca. 5500 years before present (BP). Thus, there is no threat of the lake filling up with sediment. On the contrary, sediment is not a threat to the lake but an important part of its ecosystem, providing nutrients that drive the floodplain productivity. [Source]

Tonle Sap
This is their house, they eat and sleep in it, just like what we do

Tonle Sap
A mobile market… on a boat

Tonle Sap
Most Cambodians live here as it is closer to ground

Tonle Sap
The water quality looks bad but this is what locals depend on

Tonle Sap
Lighting was bad, so it looks better in sepia

After spending some time cruising on the lake, we stopped by a “tourist trap” located somewhere on Tonle Sap. There was basically nothing to see here except some crocodiles and a little girl with her pet… a snake!

Tonle Sap
No, this is not the little girl. She is a tourist only.

We also sampled some mini prawns which tasted a little sweet and dipped with some kind of sour sauce.

Tonle Sap
Sweet little prawns

We took some time to pose a bit too.

Tonle Sap
1, 2, 3 smile!

We left the “tourist trap” and returned to Chong Khneas. I managed to capture even more moments on our way back.

Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap is fast becoming a tourist hub

Tonle Sap
One of my favourites!

Kids in Tonle Sap are like adults. They mostly roam around Tonle Sap either swimming with a bunch of friends or walking on the higher grounds alone. And this is without the supervision from the parents!

Tonle Sap
Tell me, will you let your kids play alone like this?

Tonle Sap
Or like this?

More visual feast for your eyes…

Tonle Sap
Floating church

Tonle Sap
Mobile market

Tonle Sap
Dilapidated houses. They severely lack of basic amenities.

Tonle Sap
The only mobile entertainment shop, the single table snooker center

Tonle Sap
Fetching water

We returned to Chong Khneas after an exhilarating boat ride. A visit to Tonle Sap serves as an eye-opener as most of the things we witnessed here can’t be seen elsewhere. However, apart from the meaningful visit, it saddens me on how the government look after their welfares. As some say, the rich will only get richer while the poor will only get poorer. I think I know what it means.

After visiting Tonle Sap, we shopped a while at old market to hunt for souvenirs before headed for lunch. This time, I was able to join them as I have fully recovered from my fever. Heh.

Next up… the most boring place in Siem Reap and Apsara dance show!

More photos:

Siem Reap Day 3: Tonle Sap

Angkor Adventures Part 11 – Nightlife in Town

Oct 26, 07 at 8:20 am

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Click here for Part 10

With the visit finally ended, we left with a heavy heart. A day’s visit to Angkor Archaeological Park is definitely not enough when there are so many things and temples yet to explore.

We had a pretty quick dinner as we were too hungry and our legs screamed for rest. After the dinner, we did not go back to our hotel. Instead, we headed to a massage parlour to have foot massage.

Yeah, with the price of USD10 per person for an hour’s worth of massage, it wasn’t cheap but I heard they are pretty good in this, so why not?

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Cleaning our feet

Check out the video as well.

The foot massage was good, and highly recommended as well.

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We initially planned to have a walk downtown Siem Reap after the massage and we were all but smelly and sticky, so we went back to the hotel to refresh up before continuing our second round.

Siem Reap’s nightlife stretches to near dawn these days with Pub Street coming to life around dusk and the last bars and clubs in town closing as late as 4:00am. Nightlife venues are scattered across the town but many are clustered in the Old Market area, especially along Pub Street. The bars in the Pub Street area offer amazing early evening happy hour deals and some places stay open well into the wee hours. [Source]

We did a quick study on the pubs and bars prior our arrival so that we could decide which to go.

The drive to the town took about 10 minutes. John dropped us at Pub Street near the old market to let us roam around for while. True enough, it was a happening place with quite a number of foreigners crowding most of the pubs, bars and eateries.

Pub Street
A very nice place to unwind after a day’s walk

Pub Street
It’s all in Pub Street

One of the Eateries @ Pub Street
Classic!

We detoured from Pub Street for a while to have a look at what locals usually do at night.

Hawking in Siem Reap Town
Hawkers in town

We also checked out what locals eat…

Dinosaur Eggs
Duck eggs

Local Version of Satay
Their localized version of satay

We went back to Pub Street and chose Temple Bar to unwind ourselves after a rather long day walking around. It has a very nice deco, great ambiance, great music and great crowd.

Pub Street
Temple Bar

We went back after an hour to crash out. Lucky as tomorrow’s schedule will not be so tight, so we have extra time to recharge our “battery”.

That’s the end of Day 2, finally.

Next… Siem Reap from another angle, the great Tonle Sap!

More photos:

Siem Reap Day 2: Nightlife at Town

Angkor Adventures Part 10 – Angkor Wat

Oct 25, 07 at 12:00 am

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Click here for Part 9

OMG!! This is the 10th post of Angkor Adventures!! And still stuck on Day 2. I must have been over-elaborated. :p

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No trip is complete without visiting this temple, Angkor Wat. It’s akin to Beijing’s Palace Museum (Forbidden City), so it’s not surprising when Angkor Wat is the most publicized temple in the world. In fact, Angkor Wat is a landmark of Cambodia. It’s embedded on the Cambodia national flag. It’s being mentioned worldwide. And it’s the reason why people, tourists like us come here all the way from around the world.

The crowd already building when we reached Angkor Wat. According to John, evening is the most appropriate time to visit this temple especially when the sun is setting down. The whole temple will be basked in golden hue, which is perfect for photography. Apart from this, the temple will be reflected in different colors at different time. This made Angkor Wat itself unique from the rest of the temples.

Angkor Wat
Just loved the calm water and the reflection

Angkor Wat
The causeway which leads to Angkor Wat

I missed out a lot on John’s explanation as I was too busy with my camera. :p

Angkor Wat
Crowds at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. The largest and best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation—first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. [Source]

## Don’t worry, I leave the history of Angkor Wat for you to find out. I won’t elaborate much on the temple itself since this is going to be another long post.

We caught up with John who paced in front of us whenever we walked. He stopped to let us take more photos.

Angkor Wat
I thought this is entrance but it’s just an outer enclosure (wall). The guy on the right is John.

Angkor Wat
A closer look. Notice the out-of-shape naga at the lower center of the photo

Angkor Wat
Some carvings which are amazingly detailed

We continued our walk and went past the outer enclosure, only to be greeted by another long pathway.

Angkor Wat
Buddha statue at one of the entrances near the outer enclosure

Angkor Wat
A rather long pathway. Angkor Wat is already in sight.

Angkor Wat
One of the libraries at Angkor Wat.

It didn’t take us long before we reached the exact place where ALL photographers stood. It was the best spot to take photos of the grand Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat
How do you like this stunning piece of masterpiece? [Wallpaper (3008 x 2000)]

Angkor Wat
A closer look. Nice? [Wallpaper (3008 x 2000)]

Angkor Wat
Different orientation

I.JUST.COULD.NOT.STOP.MYSELF.FROM.PHOTOGRAPHING.IT!!

Angkor Wat
I WAS there ok. Here’s the proof.

Soon, we made it to the North wing of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat
The north wing of Angkor Wat

The north wing features an exquisite bas-relief carvings which depicts the Battle of Lanka.

Angkor Wat
Bas-reliefs depicting the Battle of Lanka

I didn’t really listened to John as he over-elaborated in some of stories which kinda put me off. Anyway, he did a good job in explaining. He was able to answer most of our questions and doubts which have been lingering over our minds.

Angkor Wat
A highly detailed piece of carvings

On the way to the second level enclosure, we stopped by this cruciform cloister or Hall of Thousand Buddhas. The cruciform cloister features four basins which were originally filled with water. Besides, there are a lot of carvings inscribed on the walls which are worth a look.

Angkor Wat
One of the basins

Angkor Wat
The highly detailed carvings

Angkor Wat
Ever wonder why the important parts are so shiny?

Angkor Wat
Humans look so tiny in this huge basin

We finally reached the second level enclosure only to be greeted by this spectacular view – the massif of the central towers rising from the courtyard.

Of course, we almost fainted upon seeing the stairs. So steep!

Angkor Wat
The stairs are so freaking steep!

Angkor Wat
The crowds are admiring people descending from the tower

As we seated at the courtyard to get some rest, I was undecided whether to climb because I was tired and the stairs looked scary to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not coward. It’s just tiredness in me which almost made me gave up.

But I knew I didn’t come so far just to sit down, so I decided to climb and even spurred my buddies to go on. After all, we have came so far.

Angkor Wat
The scary looking stairs

And off we went…

Angkor Wat
My brave buddies!

It was not that hard after all. I guess we deserve the award “Stair-Climbing Expert” after a series of stair climbing lessons. LOL!

Anyway, the view from above was amazing!

Angkor Wat
The view from the stairs was scary though

Angkor Wat
If you see from their expressions, some are still terrified by the stairs. LOL!

This inner gallery, called the Bakan, is a 60 m square with axial galleries connecting each gopura with the central shrine, and subsidiary shrines located below the corner towers. The roofings of the galleries are decorated with the motif of the body of a snake ending in the heads of lions or garudas. [Source]

We uncovered more carvings on the walls, and they look impressive.

Angkor Wat

We had our time at the top, there were less people now as most of them have descended. We sat down trying to relax our minds.

Angkor Wat

But this is how I relax….

Angkor Wat

We finally left when the sky was getting darker. It was rather a long walk back to where we began but we truly enjoyed it. Thus, this ended our invasion of temples in Angkor Archaeological Park. There are more to explore, but time doesn’t allow. I hope I can return some day to explore more temples.

Next up.. Nightlife at Siem Reap town

More photos:

Siem Reap Day 2: Angkor Wat

Angkor Adventures Part 9 – Ta Keo

Oct 24, 07 at 12:00 am

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Click here for Part 8

Our legs were getting sore as we’ve been walking under the hot sun since morning! And I counted myself lucky as my fever did not recur as for now, which has been bothering me since our arrival.

The driver stopped by the roadside, and we got down only to be greeted by another temple. We barely had time to catch our breath, so we were losing interest a bit to know what’s happening at this temple. Thanks to John for being so patient in explaining the features of the temple to us.

Ta Keo is an incomplete temple in the Khleang style built as the state temple of Jayavarman V. It was dedicated in 1000 but for reasons unknown work was later abandoned, with little decoration applied. It was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. [Source]

In another word, this temple will serve as a practice ground for us to start climbing those steep stairs before heading to Angkor Wat later.

Ta Keo
Ta Keo

Ta Keo
Oh~~ Another adventure looming…

Ta Keo
The outer enclosure

We felt like giving up upon seeing the staircase because it was so narrow and steep.

Ta Keo
Taking the first step

GENTLE WARNING: The next few photos are not for those who have weak hearts.

Ta Keo
Handle with care, don’t climb recklessly!

John is really a master in stair-climbing. He ascended to the top within seconds. And he must be laughing at us all for being so slow.

Ta Keo
Keep it going!!

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I’m still on the ground figuring how to make my first move. – photo courtesy of TL

I once again took the initiative to remind everyone to be extra careful with their steps although my heart was beating rapidly at that time. But everyone seemed like busy with their steps so I don’t think they heard me at that time.

Ta Keo
Don’t ever look down when you’re halfway climbing

The climb was hard but we did it. We were so thrilled with our lame efforts. Yeah, probably John was laughing at us…. ;p

Ta Keo
Geez, I’m getting cold feet…

All we get to see at the summit was this..

Ta Keo
An unfinished tower. No carvings, no nothing. Plain.

We spent couple of minutes at the summit enjoying the cool breeze.

And the nightmare came hunting us again, it was time to descend.

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Let’s do this again! – photo courtesy of PC

We descended safely and left Ta Keo in no time. As we heading to Angkor Wat, again, we stopped by Terrace of the Elephants to take a detailed look at the elephant carvings.

Terrace of the Elephants
Do you able to see the elephant carving?

We finally left for Angkor Wat with Angkor Thom slowly disappeared from our sights.

Next up… The last piece of puzzle.. the majestic Angkor Wat

More photos:

Siem Reap Day 2: Ta Keo and Brief Return to Terrace of the Elephants