Date: 16 - 19 October 2014
Day 1 (Thursday)
It was an early morning flight and I slept most of the 2-hour flight to Siem Reap International Airport. Upon arrival, a representative from The Moon Boutique Hotel was waiting, holding a paper with my name. I've emailed the hotel earlier to inform them the details of my flight.
Then, the hotel rep who introduced himself as Reangsay ushered us to a tuk-tuk and promptly drove to the hotel. Since I arrived early - before 8 a.m. local time and standard check-in time is at 2 p.m., I've arranged to leave my luggage at the hotel reception. Imagine my surprise when a room was ready and waiting! Yay!!! Oh, I got cold towel and welcome drink too. Double yay!
Service in The Moon Boutique Hotel is one of the best I've ever experienced. Better than that 5-star hotel in Melbourne and probably as good as The Chateau. I'll tell all in another entry special for this hotel.
After a quick refresh, I asked the hotel to arrange a trip to Cambodia Landmine Museum. The hotel offers FREE tuk-tuk service to town but charge USD 23 for a direct drive to Banteay Srei area (the Landmine Museum is along the way). Of course you can choose to get a tuk-tuk in town and haggle cheaper price. But first, a stop at the tour agency to buy tickets for ROSANA Broadway show that night.
Anyway, I found out that our driver wasn't quite sure where the museum is. He thought it was all the way to Banteay Srei which was another hour drive. Luckily, I bought a local SIM card (Smart - an Axiata company) with data plan for USD 5. One of the best investments I've made here! So we found the museum in no time. Admission fee - USD 5/adult.
|Cambodia Landmine Museum|
P.s. Cambodians get to enter almost everywhere for free. So if you have the look, learn the language and you might get in FOC ;)
|Nasi Goreang Malaysia <3<3<3<3|
It was well past lunch time when I was done, so I asked Rangseay to take us to the MyHibiscus hotel where I had a plate of delicious nasi goreang (no typo) Malaysia. The hotel is within walking distance of The Moon Boutique Hotel should one feel like walking. But hey, what are the tuk-tuks for?
Oh yes. There is Wat Bo near the hotel if you wish to visit. I didn't have the time and had to skip it :(
With our tummies filled, I asked Rangseay to take me to the Angkor National Museum. I'd recommend visiting this museum BEFORE you visit the Angkor Archaeological Park. Expect to spend at least 2 hours here to be able to appreciate the wealth of information on display. I certainly wish that I didn't have to rush my tour. SO many to learn and watch! Entry fee USD 12/adult. No bags (including handbag)/water/picture taking allowed. Leave your stuff at a special counter and they'll give you a pouch to keep your phone/passport/etc.
|Gambar tickets pun jadilah kan?|
Just past 4 p.m., I received a call from En. Salim, a muslim tuk-tuk driver hired to bring us around for 2 days + a trip to buy the passes and sunset at Angkor Wat for USD 45. He was waiting in front of the museum to take us to buy the passes.
Tel : (+855) 78 99 68 40
(+855) 97 725 6503
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to buy ONE-day Passes for Angkor Archaeological Park (that's where the Angkor Wat is) earlier, you may only get them AFTER 5 p.m, a day before.
So let's say you want to visit on Friday, go buy the passes after 5 p.m. on Thursday.
If you buy let's say at 3 p.m., you only have until 6 p.m. on the same day to visit. Faham?
There are also 3-day pass and 7-day pass available. I've picked the temples/wats I want to see and one day was enough for me. Only USD 20/adult for one-day pass.
Oh did I tell you that you can go in to see the sunset on the same day you buy the pass? Yep, you get 2 sunsets! That Thursday, I chose to familiarize myself and catch the sunset at Angkor Wat.
|Sunset at Angkor Wat|
By 6 p.m., we went back to the hotel to shower and catch ROSANA Broadway show at 7.30 p.m. There's another show, a circus that I want to watch but we didn't have the time :( It's called Phare Circus and it gets good review on TripAdvisor. The Russian couple whom we shared a tuk-tuk with went to see the circus while we went for the cabaret show. Free tuk-tuk ride thanks to the hotel.
|ROSANA Broadway opening act|
After show, the hotel tuk-tuk was already waiting faithfully. We even stopped to buy some snacks along the way. Told ya- excellent service!
Day 2 (Friday)
Woke up at 4 a.m. local time (5 a.m. je pun waktu Malaysia) and off to Angkor Wat to watch sunrise. Yep, bring a torchlight and ignore the people who try to engage you into a conversation.
"Hello! Where you from?"
*pretend to be deaf*
"Use this entrance. You can see the bullet marks bla bla bla"
*pretend the fella is invisible and walk away* FAST!
Once I got my sunrise shots, I resisted the urge to follow the crowds further into Angkor Wat. Instead, as arranged with Salim, we'll do the Little Circuit first.
Totally worth it! We got some of the prasats all to ourselves and I explored and posed like nobody's business. No lining up at famous spots like the Ta Prohm Temple a.k.a. Tomb Rider temple.
|Ta Phrom Temple|
Confirm with your tuk-tuk driver where he'll be waiting for you. Some of the temples have more than 1 exit and if you suck at direction (unlike me~), you might get lost and waste precious hours walking in the heat searching for your driver and it's all your fault!
Lunch was at Muslim Family Kitchen in Stueng Thmey Village. If your tuk-tuk driver doesn't know where that is, take down the address and contact no. so you'll be able to find the place easily. I'll share the details in another entry.
Back to explore Angkor Wat properly- there were some shows going on and then we went climbing up to see the sunset at Phnom Bakheng.
Day 3 (Saturday)
Finally! We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hotel before going off to Tonle Sap to visit the Chong Kneas Floating Village. Honestly, after all the horrible stories on TripAdvisor, I was content to NOT get into a boat and only see the majestic lake from the shore.
Tips - Arrange for a guide or proper tour while in town and make sure they know that you do NOT want to be pressured to buy anything or visit anywhere else.
However, Salim convinced me to take the boat ride (USD 15/adult) after he promised to come along so I don't get forced to do charity or hop on a kayak to see mangrove which I can see in Malaysia anyway.
|That's Salim behind me!|
|A boatful of tourists|
Off we went and there was no sales pitch in the middle of the lake. Yay!
Most of the floating village dwellers are Vietnamese. They aren't considered as Cambodian and therefore don't get the permission to build on land and so they live on water~
Those in Kampong Phluk however, are Cambodians and locals recommend visiting them instead. The journey is quite further away though.
Kampong means water village.
~No picture of Psar Chaa because I was too busy shopping~
It was too early for lunch and so Salim dropped us at the Psar Chaa or the old market for an hour of shopping! I wanted to buy some silver but they were quite expensive and I have zero knowledge on the authenticity anyway so I decided against buying. Good place to find some souvenirs.
|Chicken Amok <3<3<3|
After that, we went back to Stueng Thmey Village for lunch at Cambodian Muslim Restaurant - my favourite place! before visiting the Cambodian Cultural Village at 2 p.m. Ticket price USD 15/adult. I forgot to ask Salim why we bought the tickets from a tour agency instead of directly from the counter at the Cambodian Cultural Village. Same price anyway.
|Cambodian Cultural Village Entrance|
Back in the hotel, I went for a quick swim while waiting for spa. Many people would opt for those spas in town but since our hotel is quite far from the main area, we decided to go for the one in the hotel. It was after all, literally next door (to our room).
|Night dip :)|
|After scrub, rinse off here. Masseur kat sebelah. No joke.|
Champey Spa offered the usual list of service except for facial. The 30% discount for hotel guests made it so much more worth it. Best to book a day ahead to ensure availability.
Day 3 (Sunday)
|Shea Sonia yang berbelang-belang|
Another leisurely breakfast in the hotel. Since our flight was at 3 p.m. the hotel had kindly let us extended our stay until 1 p.m. instead of the standard 12 noon check-out. #ExcellentService
I decided against one last dip in the pool because I didn't want wet bikini in my bag and spent the morning slowly packing my luggage instead. Skipped lunch and bought a tube of Pringles because the Cambodian ones have different texture and tasted nicer =P
The Cambodian airport requires you to verify your boarding pass (even if you've done the online check-in) before going through custom. There is a bookshop selling Ancient Angkor for USD 20 in the airport. The same book costs over RM100 in Malaysia. Good idea to put aside some money to get a copy and browse while waiting for your plane home ;)
|Weather can be a bit mad. Quick shower and then the sun will come out again.|
|lia suhn hao-y, Siem Reap!|