Oct. 2-6, 2014
Roaming Around Siem Reap
GPS waypoint: 13°21'42.5"N 103°51'36.0"E
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Having finished Vipassana and explored Battambang, it was time to return to Siem Reap for the ruins. In hindsight, I should have seen the ruins when my plane landed in Siem Reap - that would have freed me to explore other places after Battambang.
When I was told that there is a river passage to Siem Reap by boat, I knew I had to avail of it - even though it's more expensive at US$20 (compared to the bus fare at $6). At the pier, I met a fellow lone traveler from Japan, Risa. We bonded well throughout the boat trip and we would become travel buddies that entire day in Siem Reap.
The Boat Ride
Because it was the rainy season, the water level was high and allowed the boat to make shortcuts which reduced travel time to 6.5 hours (7:00am to 1:30pm). The trip was a visual array of floating and riverbank-side villages, fishermen, narrowing river until the passage is completely covered by water lilies, a myriad of mazes through mangrove and temples lined up along the river bank. It was a sharp contrast to what I saw on the bus. I would recommend this water route, if you can spare the time. Your hotel can make this arrangement for you which includes hotel pick-up. The $20 price is the same even if book it directly at the pier.
Food and Beer
Aside from lodging, a traveller's usual expense is food and beer. Cambodia is a good place for this as cheap good food can be had for about $2 in a modest restaurant - cheaper if you prefer street food. Beer starts at $.50 for a mug of draft beer. All around the old market, the night market and surrounding area is full of good eats. The dilemma is where and what to eat as there are many choices. Freshly pressed sugar cane juice mixed with lime is the best value at $.25 - it's refreshing, natural, healthy and cheap.
On a Bicycle
The best way to explore Siem Reap is by a bicycle. At $1/day, you cover so much ground without spending on tuk-tuks - which are quite expensive. You can bike it to the Angkor Natioanl Museum, the War Museum, the temples, etc. You also get to see some of Siem Reap's colonial-styled hotels. The best words to describe some of these hotels are elegant, grand and finely architectured.
With just hours left before the sun sets, Risa and I rented bicycles and biked out to Angkor Wat...just the outside as there is a $20 day fee. Even from the outside, the site was impressive with tourists being drawn by the flock. With the long ride back, it was already dark by the time we reached Siem Reap proper.
Time is Short
With only 2 days left before my Cambodian visa expires, I had to devote one entire day visiting the temple ruins - which is one of the reasons I came here for (the other one is to do a Vipassana course).
Siem Reap Cost Index (US$1 = Riel 4049 = Php 46.47 as of Mar 26, 2016)
- $2.00 haircut (they'll price you at $3 but local price is only $2)
- $0.50 one mug draft beer
- $0.50 1.5 liter drinking water
- $4.00 one hour massage
- $2.00 muesli breakfast
- $0.50-1.50 coffee
- $2.00 pad thai
- $1.00 bicycle rental, 24 hours
- $0.25 sugar cane juice in a plastic cup
- $0.50 fresh coconut
- $5.00/day single fan rooms
- $4.00/day dorm lodging at Garden Village Guesthouse
- $18.00 starting price for Phare circus
- $1.00/kilo laundry
- $1.00 regular tuk-tuk ride around town
- $15.00 tuk-tuk ride for a short tour of Angkor Wat
- $20.00 Angkor Wat admission fee
- $8.00 1-hour drop-in yoga session
- $5.00 Alibaba pants (asking price is usually $8 but they'll go down to $5)
- no need to convert your dollars into riel. All establishments in Cambodia accept US dollars.
- take a tu-tuk at the airport $5/trip (you can split the cost with other passengers from your plane), 10 min
Oct. 2-6, 2014
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