So we stayed at Siem Reap, Cambodia for 6 days. We planned on going to nearby Thailand via bus, or maybe visit Phnom Penh within that span. However, because we did not want to stress ourselves out (and we were on a tight budget!) we opted to stay within Siem Reap for the whole duration of our stay.
Honestly, if you don’t have much time to spare, spending around three (or maybe four) days in Siem Reap is enough. But in our case, we really just wanted to chill at that time, away from everything and everyone. We found other countries as our way of bonding, just the two of us, without people knowing us or interrupting us. So six days spent bumming around and drinking was a good way to recharge before working/studying again. (And it was a really good move to choose a hotel with a swimming pool, to chill and relax!)
In our earlier blog post, we wrote about our adventure around the Angkor Archeological Site. This just took around one and a half days of our entire stay. Other days were just spent walking around and chilling at the nearby Pub Street and night markets from our hotel.
The highlight of our stay was not really the Angkor Temples, rather it was the cooking class we took part in. SC randomly browsed the internet prior our trip for things we can do around Siem Reap. The most common, of course, are the Angkor Tour and the Tonle Sap Lake tour. What caught our attention was the cooking class that became infamous for tourists and travellers.
We had a dilemma. Due to our budget, we can only choose one, between the Tonle Sap tour or the cooking class. We ended up having the cooking class instead. We found it more interesting and less known to do. So we hurriedly booked two slots through klook and scheduled a half day cooking class under Sojourn Boutique Villas for only USD20 per person. That was inclusive of transportation to and from the hotel, as well as the materials and ingredients needed for the cooking class. Sojourn also offers a whole day cooking class (which was practically the morning and afternoon classes put together), and other immersion activities. Other restaurants and hotels offer cooking classes but Sojourn offers a tour of a nearby household before the actual cooking activity.
(note: use promo code X965C upon check out in klook for a discount!!)
For Filipinos, the Cambodian way of living is quite the same, just given different oral symbols. Their house is much like our Bahay Kubo, the way they cook is very much like how we do it in the province, and many other things are quite similar to us.
We had the tour for around an hour, after which we proceeded to the cooking area where we washed our hands and prepared for class.
We were each given the chance to prepare/cook an appetizer (salad), the main entree, and a desert.
We both cook back in the Philippines, but not as often as we would like to. SC enjoyed chopping and preparing the ingredients, but Joey had a little more difficulty handling the knife. Nonetheless, it was the best experience we had, and we have no regrets for choosing this over Tonle Sap Lake. It was a good way to immerse ourselves in their culture, and also to meet other people from other countries,
At that time, we had a good chat with a couple from Macau, and a family of three from Scotland. We each shared our own travel experiences, and what we think about Cambodia. We all had a good time preparing, cooking, and eating our food!
After our tours and cooking class, the best way to pamper ourselves was through a good Cambodian massage. It was really cheap (well, for tourist standards), but for Filipino standards, they can be quite expensive. Foreign (specifically caucasian) travellers always commend Cambodian massage as one of the best, so we tried it… twice! We don’t know if it’s just us, but we did not like it that much. Our masseuses back in the Philippines are better! You can’t blame these Cambodians though, because when we had a chat with a couple of them, they work from sun up to sun down, massaging 10 hours a day! We pitied them for being exploited by the foreign owners, giving them meager salaries for such long hours at work.
Cambodia can be quite hot, even on a windy February, so we usually stay in the hotel until late afternoon. As dusk came, we would walk to Pub Street and enjoy the night away with awesome street food and delicious beer.
Cambodian food is pretty much a blend of Thai and Vietnames food (which is likely because it’s in the middle of the two?).
A friend also told us to look for happy pizza, which is quite rampant around Siem Reap. It’s called happy pizza ’cause of one distinct ingredient, marijuana. Cambodians claim that marijuana has always been part of their cuisine, but then again it might also be a strategy to gain more tourists.
Honestly, we had a hard time looking for these “happy pizza’s.” Thankfully, we found one at the other end of pub street, near the police station (how ironic haha it must be really legal).
Sadly, though, the happy pizza was not as “happy” as we hoped it would be. We felt light for a while, but that was it.
Because it’s very hot, fruit shakes and freshly fried fruit ice cream are rampant around the city. Most people say that our own fruits in the Philippines are much sweeter, but we say their fruits are a must try. It’s fresh, sweet, and well-ripe. We especially loved their langka (or jackfruit!), it was the sweetest we’ve ever tasted. We try to eat langka here in the Philippines, but sadly, nothing has ever been at par with Cambodian jackfruit.
Exotic food are also a thing in Siem Reap. Most people are just in it for pictures. Seems like Cambodians are also used to it, so they just ask for a fee when tourists want a picture of it. SC, however, is a brave human being. She tried the water snake, silk worms, and crickets. The American tourists found it amusing!
Everywhere you look, there are also fish spa shops around tourist spots. We looked for the cheapest (but cleanest!) one.
Oh, and we almost forgot, we saw a couple of temples along our bike ride and strolls. Because we don’t know how to read Khmer, we never found out what they are and their significance, but they are such a beauty! We even got to watch a buddhist parade, which was interesting! ‘Til next time when we visit again, or maybe when we visit another buddhist country!