CAMBODIA (November 27 – December 7, 2017)
Just a short write up with some impressions and ideas…
PHNOM PENH: 4 days , 3 nights
- First day we walked to the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum. All very much worth a visit.
- Second day we rented a tuktuk and went first to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and then the Tuol Sleng museum. A sobering day! A must see on what we, “humans”, can do to each other.
- Third day we went on a half day biking tour “on the Silk Islands” with Grasshoppers for 45US $. Nice and fun but sobering as well! Great Guide Vitchet! Certainly, worth doing! Bring some small size old soccer shoes and/or new soccer balls! You will make a few children happy! In the afternoon we made a boat trip on the Mekong. Good to see and feel empathy with the Muslim fishing community on their liveaboards.
- For dinners: we only did “good cause dining”: restaurants that are run by aid organisations to help fund social programs for mainly disadvantaged youths: “Friends” (really good! Book in advance! And don’t miss the shop nextdoors) and “Romdeng” (good!!)
- We stayed at the FCC for 75 US $ per night BF included. The FCC is full of character and interestingly located on the North Central Riverfront! Although the FCC is certainly worth a visit to get another feel of the turbulent times of Cambodia and having a drink (or dine) on the balcony overviewing the Mekong, we would not stay there anymore. It is much too noisy, noise not only coming from the street, neighbouring cafes but also from the upstairs kitchen. Also, the amenities in the room are old and need replacement. We would check out the Bougainvillier Hotel or The Quay, both a bit further up North along the river (you pay for all a bit more because of the location!) or off-river: Blue Lime.
- We hired a car to drive us to SR: 85 US $. He did it in just 3 h. But count on 4 h. Safer in that time anyway!
SIEM REAP: 7 days, 6 nights
- We joined the “Angkor Wat Bike 4 kids” annual charity race on the Saturday , the day before the Angkor Wat run. Most participants are there to support the cause and not really to race. You get to cycle through the countryside outside of Angkor Wat and on interesting paths through bush around the temples. The mountain bikes were provided by Unique Adventure (with whom we later in the week also did an Angor Wat Sunrise Tour). In the afternoon of the race day, we kept the bikes and cycled around the moat of Angkor Wat and on the wall of Angkor Thom, entering the South Gate and going immediately up on the wall to your left. (so, direction West). Worth exploring! You have to exit at the West gate.
- Some suggestions to visit Siem Reap – 3 days is an absolute minimum!
- One Day (ideally your first day): Kbal Spean, the river of the 1000 lingas. (about 1 hour from SR) is a nice little climb in the jungle to see some carvings. Not spectacular, but cute. Then to Banteay Srei, an absolute beauty with exquisite stone carvings. Then to Beng Mealea to see how nature wins over humans or to give you an idea on how Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom were like before the restauration. We rented a car for this day, left at 07.30 and were back around 16.00
- Do the rest of Angkor Wat by mountain bike (rent a good one so you can go off road!), the most convenient way to explore all of the temple complexes! It is a 10 km ride from downtown to the gates of Angor Wat (and cycling in and around SR is also convenient!) Ask for a bike lamp as you most probably will start each day before dawn!
- Bayon is by far the most beautiful temple, we think and worth a few visits! Go certainly once as soon as it opens in the morning because the chance there are tour groups around is smallest then!
- One day could be: Cycling on the wall from the South Gate of Angor Thom towards the West gate, towards Bayon (check out the crowds, pass by when too busy ) then north to Baphuon (spot the reclining buddha!), then Preah Palilay, Terrace of the Leper King and Terrace of the Elephants, leave Angor Thom from the Victoria gate,…. Sunset at Sra Sang. (Check out the latest policy on Phnom Bakheng: because of its popularity only 300 people are allowed and this before 16.30h)
- do the sunrise trip with Unique Adventure (we cycled from downtown SR to the Temples in the dark: about 30 minutes)
- The last day: do again what you like the most! Start with Ta Prohm!
- Restaurants: Marum and the Peace Café, both as “dining for a cause! And Olive as French fine dining!
- Victoria : 145 US $ bf incl. A real treat! (Ask for pool view!)