17th December, 2017
We said goodbye to Vietnam and landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia after a short flight from Hanoi.
We arrived in the early evening and were pleased to learn that there was no time difference between Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Siem Reap International Airport is just lovely. It was immaculate and ran like a well oiled machine.
While waiting for our hotel transfer, we grabbed some SIM cards. We’ve found this really quick and easy to arrange each time we arrive somewhere new. They’re usually around $10-$15 for a week of cover and we use Wi-Fi when we can.
We checked into The Royal Crown Hotel & Spa. It was in a prime position, only a few minutes walk to the main street.
On first impression I felt Siem Reap to be a lot like Patong in Phuket, Thailand – just without the beach.
I felt like I’d seen it all before.
To be totally honest, it took me a while to fall for the place, but fall hard I did.
It was our visit to the Landmine Museum, and learning about the country’s history that stole my heart. A country that has endured so much sadness and hardship, yet continues to go on and thrive. Cambodian people are happy and warm. They are kind and sweet, and we were honoured to enjoy 8 wonderful days in Siem Reap.
We met a remorque driver named Ra, and we hired his driving expertise for two days for $40USD. We also paid a few dollars for his petrol. He was stoked.
He drove us out to the Landmine Museum, which was about an hours slow drive from town. We drove through local villages, shopped their small road side stalls and met some beautiful Cambodian children.
The museum is run by a very special man named Aki Ra. He is a former child soldier with the Khmer Rouge. He laid thousands of landmines as a soldier, and at the time, didn’t realise how terrible they were. After seeing the impact, he escaped the Khmer Rouge and began to fight against them as a soldier in the Vietnam Army.
Nowadays, he lives peacefully at the museum grounds and has dedicated his life to helping victims of landmines and their children. Over the years, he has adopted many children who have been affected by the landmines. He spends countless hours with his hard-working team who have been clearing mines since the 1990’s.
Many believe that there are still between 3 and 6 million bombs left in Cambodia. It will take years and years to clear them all.
The museum was pretty heavy, but we are so glad we went. We learnt so much about this unique country.
(You can learn more about the Cambodian Landmine Museum here)
The following day, our driver Ra took us out to the temples. Starting at Angkor Wat, then Angkor Thom and finishing up our day at the famous Ta Prohm (featured in the Tomb Raider movie).
We all agreed that Ta Prohm was our very favourite temple of the day and we’re so glad we kept going, even with the high temperatures and crowds. It sure was a sight to see.
Cambodian cuisine is amazing. Similar to Thai food, but without the spice factor. Two dishes we discovered and loved were the Chicken Amok and Khmer curry.
The Red Tomato was brilliant. It is actually Italian and Traditional Khmer food. We loved their curries!
Surprise, surprise we also found a great Mexian place, Viva – $1.50 tacos and 50 cent beers. You can’t go wrong!
We also discovered Fifty5. The BEST gelato in Siem Reap!! Big call – yes, but I am owning it (try it and report back, you won’t be sorry!) We also ate at Fifty5 for brunch and lunch on two separate occasions (I highly recommend the Granola pot and the Vegan salad!!)
Fifty5 was just minutes from our hotel and the food was fresh and delicious. It gave us a taste of home too. Very Melbourne!
The VERY BEST brunch we had in Cambodia was at Sister Srey. Sister Srey is a cafe run by two sisters from Geelong, Australia (My home town – smallest world!)
I had no idea until after we left and began chatting to the girls on Instagram! Anyway these girls, Cassie and Lauren opened the cafe in 2012 and run a very successful cafe full of wonderful, happy staff. They provide great coffee and brilliant food.
Not only do they run the cafe, they also support the community. Big thumbs up from me!
We were lucky enough to connect with another travelling family whilst in Siem Reap.
A family of 4 from Texas, USA. Arann, Adam, Maddie and Everleigh.
We clicked straight away and spent our last 3 nights together.
We also LASHED out and spent an entire $28 (BARGAIN!) for the 8 of us to see Coco in 3D at the Major Cineplex – a brand new movie cinema in Siem Reap. Coco was a very sweet movie. Well done Disney Pixar.
Other nights were spent perusing the Night Market and wandering Pub Street. The place comes alive at night. It is noisy and colourful. Great for all ages.
One thing we didn’t research before we arrived was that Cambodia primarily uses USD. It took a day or so, but we got the hang of it. The kids thought it was so cool using American dollars!
We loved our time in Cambodia so much so, that we tried to extend our stay for another week, but as we’d already arranged our forwarding journey, it turned out not to be worthwhile cancelling.
Siem Reap stole a big chunk of my heart! We all absolutely loved it and can’t wait to come back again someday.
8 sleeps ’til Christmas!!!
Here’s our Camdodia Vlog. It’s a long one. Enjoy x
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