As soon as you step into Cambodia, the culture shock will grab you.
After passing through immigration, we secretly thanked ourselves for making it alive. (Sorry mother if you ever read this).
Greeted by young children, it was tough not to give into their little cherub faces. We were advised not to provide them with the dollars that they were requesting, pocket money apparently goes to the naughty triads.
Cambodia is hectic, corrupt, flawed, and barren, but it’s the incredible spirit of the Khmer people, that will make you fall in love with the country. It’s a place where you can still see the rawness from decades of blood, war, violence, genocide and death, yet the people are so warm and kind. You will notice that the locals are always smiling and will always greet you with open arms. With limited resources, they have strong communities. Leaving their homes open, when one family has food, the whole community has food. They live by a genuine, ‘what’s yours, is mine’, mentality. That’s what I love about Cambodia.
The first place we headed to was Siem Reap: a town of tranquillity, green rice fields and almost everything made of bamboo.
Our tour guide PC took us to probably the most scenic restaurant I’ve ever been to in my life.
Yep, that’s right. We had dinner here. It was so ridiculous that I couldn’t resist having a snap taken by it.
Not to sound like a weirdo, but check out the entrance to the toilet.
I had sweet & sour chicken (no, not the Saturday night takeaway kind) and for dessert, I was given this star shaped goodie.
It was crunchy and sweet, and, tasted like sugar heaven. I have no idea what it’s called, but I liked it.
The next morning we headed to a local orphanage located in a small village.
I befriended a cow. I named him Angus.
The children of Spean Cheav is a home for underprivileged children and are taught English to increase their prospects, which is so fundamental in a popular tourist country.
William, aged seven, kept picking up flowers for me, he could do with teaching a few men at home on how to charm the ladies.
Panni, aged nine (the girl waving a dollar), is adorable. We counted to 100 together in English. I was inspired; the founder looks after fifteen children to help them towards a better, brighter future.
The next day, we woke up at 5 am to make the sunrise (my friends know how I feel about waking up), but it was totally worth it. Just look at that view of Angkor Watt.
The Buddhist monument was originally a Hindu temple. Built on water, mysterious and captivating — It’s the Khmer King’s legacy. His face sculptured on almost every wall, with his slaves bowing down to him.
This historical temple has survived invasions and wars yet is the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.
I could happily have spent the rest of the day in the darkness, drinking in the history and gilded artworks, but there were more temples to check out.
Temple hopping, we landed at Ta Phrom — the movie set of Tomb Raider. Pretending to be Lara Croft, we had way too much fun jumping through the maze and discovering treasured ancient rocks. I even got the gun fingers out… I can’t believe I just admitted that.
Ridiculously spoilt, another scenic restaurant came our way. It’s Batchum Khmer Kitchen Food; I thought the first one was my favourite, but this one became a good contender.
I was so jealous of Tom’s (fellow traveller in our group) fish supper that I had to take a snap of it.
What I loved about this restaurant is that they had hammocks outside. IT’S LIKE THEY KNOW ME.
The next day we went quad biking to fuel our adrenaline thirst.
I made it alive!
We then headed to the famous Pub Street for a delicious meal (I think you can see a trend here #foodie).
Before heading home, I spotted my very own cocktail bar!
We hopped on a Tuk to catch our coach for our 7-hour journey to Phnom Penh.
Siem Reap, you were incredible.
Location: Cambodia – Siem Reap