2 February 2015

Siem Reap - Angkor What?

Angkor Wat
A tourist's paradise. Siem Reap consists mostly of hotels. It looked a bit like Las Vegas to me at first sight when we drove into town. The mass tourism of Angkor Wat has positive but also negative aspects, that is nothing new.

When we landed in Siem Reap we were a bit concerned how the visa process is going to work out, but that was unnecessary. I have never seen a more efficient immigration process. Everybody stands in line, you can calculate abot five to ten seconds per person to hand the passport to the officer and pay. This one takes it, hands it to the next officer who does something with it and hands it over to the next one and so on, until you get it back about five minutes later, everything done.
Downtown Siem Reap
We had organized pick up from the airport to our hotel, which was a little outside the city. All worked perfectly fine and after about 45 minutes we already were in our new home, the Lotus Lodge. The architecture of the hotel is very pretty, a bit mediterranean style, like most of the tourist area in town. With about 30 rooms it is a very small hotel compared to most of the others in Siem Reap and the staff was very laid back. They were lovely, but the laid back attitude was also visible in their work. Half of the job always stayed undone, we had to order the second half of our breakfest every morning twice.

Lisa exploring a temple
A tuktuk to down town cost us about 2 USD (1.6 EUR) and there are plenty waiting in front of the hotel. The Lotus Lodge states on their website that there are bikes for free to use, but there are only very few actually and they're in terrible condition. We got two of them on our first day and decided to discover the city that way for a first impression.

The mediterranean style old town part was very pretty, even though it is full of tourists. Restaurants and bars everywhere offer food from all over the world and beer for 50 cents. We loved the American one called Belmiro's. Besides classics like burgers and burritos they serve specials every week, so I got to eat the best meat loaf of my life. The restaurant opposite on the corner serves European food, cheaper than Belmiro's and also very delicious. But we barely ate out as the chinese supermarket on our way home sold great full grain bread and tasty cheese, our dinner for four days in a row.
Buddha in the jungle
We ate Amok, the most famous Khmer dish in one of the restaurants in the old town. It was tasty but nothing special at all, probably they adjusted it too much to tourist gusto, so if you want to have an authentic experience you probably better try it in one of the food stalls on the street.

After a couple of days to relax we sure had to see what we came for: Angkor Wat. One of the big wonders of the world. And in my opinion I finally discovered something famous that was not overrated. There are probably hundreds of temples around Siem Reap. Most of them are ruins in the forest, but some of them are still quite intact and very impressive. We arranged our own tour, as we only wanted to see the most promising ones after all the temples we saw already in Thailand and Myanmar. And it was definitely worth it.

Riding a tuktuk
For Siem Reap we can finally recommend to check on Trip Advisor to find out where to eat or to go. People there seem to value it and it is very helpful to give you advice. Ratings are always up to date and pretty accurate from what we saw and the choice of things to do or see is simply too big to figure it all out by yourself.

More pictures from Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

1 comment:

  1. Siem Reap, lets see:
    Reminds me of:
    A fake border or lets say: "cambodian embassy" with special visa fees on the way from Bankok to Siem Reap
    Eatable Western food which tastes awesome after such a long time of just asian food
    Water: looots of water (flood)
    my buddy being ripped off by 6 year old kids selling crap. haha!

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