Siem Reap – Part 3

We’re still in the 2nd days of Siem Reap. Too much to tell you guys about. Just right after our exploration at the Angkor Archeological Park, we then decided to stop at the Old Market. As for us, a visit to the local market will definitely taught you the lifestyle of Siem Reap people’s. We first bumped up with the sellers selling food outside of the market compound. Inside, you can see a lots of spices which had been nicely packed, fresh meats, fresh vegetables, clothes, jewelleries and others. Oh not to forget, souvenirs to bring back home. Basically, you can get cheap souvenirs here in Old Market (Phsar Chas) as in the biggest indoor market in Siem Reap. We managed to convince the seller to sell us 10 fridge magnets for USD 3. We took 40 numbers! Besides, we also managed to secure 2 kramas for the price of USD 1. As for the t-shirt, we managed to bought quite a numbers of shirts at the Angkor Night Market. We went to the same shop as my sis on her previous trip earlier. If you are asking us where is more preferable, we would say that there’s a few items which are found to be much cheaper than in Angkor Night Market but there are certain items are found to be expensive here. The only tips is to bargain as much as you can! You can get a copy of various ‘imitation’ Lonely Planet here with the price as cheap as USD 3 – 7.

There’s other alternative of market available here in Siem Reap which is Phsar Leu (Saler Market), New Market and Night Market (slightly smaller than Old Market) and Central Market.

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After a few hours there, we then headed to D’ Wau Restaurant to have our quick-lunch. Even though we knew that it’s very expensive, we still wanted to try the food there. At least! We ordered white rice with side dishes of Lok Lak Beef, omelette and chicken sour soup. After having our last sip of the soup and paying all the bill, we definitely found that its cheaper and the food taste better in Haji Musa Muslim Restaurant. So, we definitely not gonna miss Nasir invitation to try “Daging Naik Bukit” tonight.

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During our lunch session, we did discussed with Nasir that we need to buy the bus ticket to Phnom Penh for tomorrow. As advised by Nasir, it’s better to get there by VIP minivan which is much more faster. Approximately 3.5 – 4 hours rather than bus which will take us around 5 – 6 hours. Oh my! Furthermore, bus ticket will cost you USD 8 and minivan USD 10. So, minivan it is! Just near to the restaurant, Nasir helped us to purchase the tickets. We took the earliest one on schedule since we gonna have another half day extra in Phnom Penh later.

We still have a few hours to go and we then decided just to ask Nasir to bring us around the town. Pusing-pusing untuk habiskan masa. We went to Siem Reap museum but just to take a photo of the building since the admission fees are way too expensive. We’ve read all the comments given by Malaysian and even foreigner tourists from the forums and blog that it doesn’t worth the money paying for the admission fees. We even stop at the McDermott Gallery. An awesome photo collection of Angkor! To all photographers, this is the place. There are 2 galleries which is situated just next to Angkor FCC and at Pub Street. The one in pub street is much bigger than in Angkor FCC. Everything is all about Siem Reap and Angkor taken in black and white. He’s been staying in Siem Reap for the past 14 years to capture all this ancient histories.

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We then headed back to our guest house just to catch some short nap before the ‘Beatocello’ show in Jayavarman VII Hospital. Dr Beat Richner often introduced himself as ‘Beatocello’ as his stage name. The concert normally held every Saturday at 7.15pm. He will play Bach on the cello and speaks about the activites of his four children’s hospitals. Nasir’s picked us up at the guest house and we then headed directly to Haji Musa place just to catch some early dinner before the show. Before reaching the place, we stopped over at Nasir’s and Salim’s places to say hi to their family members (their in-laws, wife and kids). Anak-anak dia tak takut orang. They even asked us to play with them. How cute are they! I miss them a lots!

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While we were there, we chit-chat with Haji Musa for a few hours. Explaining and sharing with us on his new project, a school somewhere at the Cambodia border. He even asked his daughter, Laily and son to entertain us while he were busy welcoming a group of guest from Singapore! We talked and shared ideas with his daughter talking about her teaching plan at Tonle Sap. She’s basically a part-time English teacher and she’s just 17! At the age of 17, what are you guys really think on giving back to the community? Nah! Nothing right? She is such an ambitious teenage girl! She already got all her future plan on her hand.

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We got carried away talking about her future plan, about our travelling plan, what we do for living, about Khmer’s people, Muslim in Cambodia and others. And the biggest part is that, we missed the ‘Beatocello’ show! We almost forgot about our initial plan! We never regret for not showing up at the ‘Beatocello’ since we got the chance to meet up new people’s, making new friends and such. Besides, we spent a few hours up to 9pm chit chatting with our new friends from Bandung, Bayu Bharuna”s and friends. There goes our night!

Lucky us, Haji Musa’s cooked for us!

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After that short coffee session with our new friends, we then moved up to Angkor Night Market to do some final shopping before heading to Phnom Penh early tomorrow morning. FF got himself a free bicycle ride and he went for riding all over the town meanwhile, myself stranded in the room packing all the stuff for tomorrow.

Gonna continue with the Phnom Penh trip!

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

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Siem Reap – Part 2

On the 2nd days in Siem Reap, we started as early as 4am in the morning. We left our guest house somewhere around 4.40am and reached at the Angkor Archeological Park ticket counter sharp at 5.00am. The ticket counter open exactly at 5.00am and all the staff are getting ready for the big crowd. Ya, its sunrise time! Things not to be missed when you are at Siem Reap! Passes are sold at the price of USD 20 (for 1 day), USD 40 (for 3 days) and USD 60 (for 7 days). We bought the 1 day pass since we gonna departed to Phnom Penh on the next day. Always carry your pass around and it will be checked upon each park entry and all the major temples. The passes are printed with our photo on which has been taken immediately during the passes purchase. Smile! You’re on camera. We only managed to cover only the major temples as mentioned by other bloggers and forumers due to the tight schedule and budget constraints. You can always choose to ride a bicycle in the Angkor park, but it’s way toooo big for me! Mau kejang otot dibuatnya nanti. Hehehe.

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Our first location of the day is Angkor Wat. Yes! To witness the sunrise. As mentioned by our Tuk Tuk driver Nasir, on last 21st March the sun rise exactly on the main tower and it was such a breathtaking moment for him. This is something that he couldn’t forget for the rest of his life.

The entrance of Angkor Wat.
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He reminded us a few times that the best spot to watch the sunrise is at the northern reflecting pool just in front of the temple. Once you entered, you can see the whole crowds there. The sun will rise just behind the Angkor Wat giving the effect of an silhouette. We spent about 2 and 1/2 hours there just to witness the sunrise and to walk around the temple. Angkor wat is the centrepiece of any visit to the temples of Angkor. The walls are covered with the finest Apsara carvings in the Angkorian era.

The sunrise.
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Inside of the Angkor Wat
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On the way out to the entrance again.
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Oh ya, you can have your breakfast here as well. We brought our breakfast with us this time, kuih given by our Tuk Tuk driver. Sedap gile! Don’t even know how to describe it. A lil bit sweet but i definitely love the texture. Baik betul hati Nasir tolong bekalkan kuih nie.

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We spent almost 2 and 1/2 hours here. Its time to get to another temples! But wait, the view outside are awesome!
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This is the typical view that you can see in the Angkor Archeological Park. The place is super clean! If we’re not mistaken, there are Angkor Wat Marathon conducted every year. Ramai juga Malaysian yang join in. Everytime we passed by the area, we definitely impressed on how Fatt (backpackerbusuk.blogspot.com) rode her bike here! Tabik gile lar!
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Later, you’ll reached the Angkor Thom. There are 5 entrances (gates) to the city. South gate is commonly the first stop of a tour. It’s a 3km walled and as mentioned by Nasir,it’s the last capital during the Angkorian era. During the visit, you can see a lots of the statues are currently in restoration process.

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We then headed to Bayon. This is our 1st pit stop after the South Gate. We reached here somewhere around 9am with empty stomach. Apa lagi, we had our pre-packed breakfast (packed by our hotel, Neng from Surabaya) before we started exploring Bayon. Makasih Neng! Sedap Bangat! Bayon in overall was seriously tore down especially at the internal area. Currently, it’s under restoration funded by Japan.

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Next are the Terrace of the Elephant, the 2 1/2 metre long carved with elephant and garudas.
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Terrace of the Leper King is just next to Terrace of the elephant.
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We then moved to Victory Gate where all the statue heads had been cut down. Kindly do some research why all the statue are without heads here. We only received verbal explanation from Nasir but he reminded us several times that it’s just an assumption made by local. This is another gate of Angkor Thom besides north, south, east and west gate. victory gate will lead you to the Royal Palace area.
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Later, you’ll passed by Spean Thma where it’s a stone bridge and it sits just to the side of the river. Next will be Ta Keo where Nasir explained that it once called as an unfinished temple by local since there are no carving shown on the walls. It’s plainly decorated and it has stopped several times during the construction due to excessive lightning. No photo were taken here. We just passed by via our Tuk Tuk.

The next highlight of the Angkor Park will definitely the Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is the set of the famous movie Tomb Rider starring Angelina Jolie. This temple was actually dedicated by Jayavarman VII’s to his mother. During the ancient history,it’s believe that this place host about 3000 villagers, thousand of staff, a place that they store jewels and golds. The best fact is that, Nasir mentioned that in the past 2 weeks, the restoration workers had found a crown during the excavation works. The whole process of restoration works is now funded by the India.

Passes checked again!
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Welcome
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Restoration works in progress at Ta Promph temple. Currently, the whole process of restoration works is now funded by the Government of India. See how they need to arrange the whole stone again.
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The temple with all the big trees!
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We completed the whole trip in Angkor Archeological Park in 7 hours time. Oh ya, with our official footwear on, Crocs! Hahaha.
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Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Siem Reap – Part 1

Assalammualaikum and Hi there!

Our 5 days trip to Cambodia was already over. It was such a short trip. There is always a lots of things to be discovered. We only managed to cover Siem Reap and Phnom Penh this time around. But hell yeah, there’s always nice place like Sihanoukville, Battambang, Kampot, Kampong Cham and others. As mentioned in the previous entry, we were at the Land of Smiles from 18 to 22 May 2012 recently.

Started the journey as early as 3.00am from home since our flight departed from KL at 6.50am in the morning.
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We arrived at the Siem Reap International Airport after 2 hours journey and 7.50am local time. We did a lot of research before we were on this trip. Endless reading, browsing and blogwalking. We just hope we did fine at the other part of this planet earth.

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We managed to secure a guesthouse near to the Pub Street via Agoda.com at a very cheap price (plus breakfast) which is The Explorers House. Seriously, at a very affordable price. Small yet clean and worth the money. We emailed them to pick us up since they’re offering free pick up from the airport / bus station. And another plus point of this guesthouse is that, they have HALAL food here since the owner are Malaysian. Check out the room. Just good enough for both of us. Katil king ok!
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Once reached the guest house, we’ve made a few phone calls to our tuk tuk driver, Nasir. Ya, we booked Nasir a few weeks before we arrived. There’s a lot of good review about him among blogges and forumers. Without any doubt, we emailed and engaged him for 2 days in a row. He basically knew all our initial plan. The fees is just USD25 and another plus point is that he speak fluent Bahasa Melayu and he’s a muslim. We just love the way he interact with us and at that point of time, we knew that we’re already become friends. This is the back view of him.

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We chit chat and discussed on our itinerary for a few minutes and we then proceeded to Tonle Sap lake. Our initial plan is just to move around the Siem Reap town but he advised us that his brother, Salim (a tuk tuk driver as well) is now on his way to Tonle Sap with another 2 Malaysian. It would be easy and we can pay less for the boat tickets. Please be reminded that all visitors shall not group up while you are at the Tonle Sap lake unless we came as a group. It’s prohibited. That’s the main reason why our tuk tuk driver asked us to join another 2 Malaysian so that we should only paid USD15 per pax. The price might differ on the number of person in the same group. If not, we have to charter the whole boat and it will become more expensive. Hell no! Budget constraint here!

On the way to Tonle Sap, paddy fields can be seen on both directions. And lotus pond as well. We just discovered that the lotus seeds can be eaten raw and taste slightly macam makan kacang panjang. Serious tak tahu. Pity us huh!

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A little facts of Tonle Sap Lake (or Great Lake) where this lake is the biggest freshwater lake in South East Asia. There are thousand of peoples who stayed in the Floating Village. They even had their own church, school, basketball court, mini market, hardware shop and etc. We did impressed on the way they live but they don’t have any proper sanitation system.

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Us, with Salim and another 2 Malaysian friends. Our new friends who travelled all the way from KL – Saigon – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap – KL for 7 days.
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Oh ya, it’s a dry season now. During the wet season, the water level are as the same as the embankment. Tinggi gile! During our trip, all the boats have to pass only after one another since air yang dalam cuma at the center saja. Please think, couldn’t explain further.
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Local people’s. During this dry season you can eventually saw people’s fishing at the side of the lake and small kids swimming around.
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After 20 minutes on the boat, we’re now reaching the Tonle Sap Floting Village.
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The school. As mentioned by our Tuk Tuk driver Salim (which are on the same boat with us), sometimes the boat driver will just stop you at the school and forced you to buy and give all the school kids a souveniors (school stuff such as pencil, eraser, exercise books and etc) with a very ridiculous price. That’s the reason why Salim followed us up all the way for the boat trip at Tonle Sap.
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After visiting all the floating village, the boat will stopped over at one of the floating R&R area selling snacks, drinks and local products. There are also a information area of the lake itself and fish together with crocodile farm. Just near to the boat pitstop, there’are a few local families (mum’s and kids, there are even babies) holding phyton and asking for tips as part of the show and if you want to take picture of them. This is exactly how the earn the money for living. Kadang-kadang sedih tengok on how poor they are.

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The overall view of the jetty. This pix was taken on our way back. Can you see the construction going on at the back of the jetty? They are constructing a resort there owned by the Korean.
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Its almost lunch time when we arrived at the jetty. We opted for the first lunch here at Muslim Restaurant owned by Haji Musa since it’s just next to the Siem Reap mosque. Hubby’s took the chance to have his Friday Prayer here while i stayed at the restaurant to wait fo them to prepare all the foods. We tried the local dishes such as Beef Lok Lak! Must try! They do have soup such as Tomyam (just to suit us) but you should try the chicken/beef sour soup, A’mok (something like our gulai lemak here in Malaysia) and etc.
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Once lunch done, Nasir advised us to go to the Cambodia Cultural Village. I insisted and convinced my hubby not to go, since it will cost us USD 14 per pax and from all the reading made earlier, most of the previous bloggers who are there before did not recommended this place since there’are nothing there. It’s just like an empty recrational park with all the monuments miniature. Nasir still insisted us to go to the place where as mentioned by him, its Friday and there’re long list of show till 8.30pm. He managed to convince both of us and bet that we will enjoy all the shows. Lebih kurang termakan hasutan dia la nie.

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And i was totally wrong! The 1st show started at 2.30pm and we was there somewhere around 2.00pm. We visited the museum and walked around the park. There’re about 10 shows on that day itself. It started with The immortal life of Khmer soul – Charming of Phahum – Khmer wedding ceremony – Chinese traditional dance – Dreamy prince’s daughter and magic peacock – Choosing the fiance – Khantremming dancing – Rice praying – The Greatest King Jayavarman (The highlight of all). You’ve to move around to all the villages and it looks just exactly like the Kampung Budaya as what we got in Kuching, Sarawak.

The immortal life of Khmer soul and Charming of Phahum at the Mini Theatre
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Choosing the fiance at Khroeung Village
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Khantremming dancing at Khmer Village
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Rice praying at Phnorng Village
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The whole show was fantastic! I would said that the local traditional dance and movement of Khmer are a lil bit sexy and attractive eventhough is just a feet movement. We completed the whole shows somewhere at 8.30pm and we asked Nasir to drop us at the Pub Street just to feel the nightlife of Siem Reap town. You can shop around where there’re 4-5 night market near to the Pub Street. We had stopped over for drinks at Blue Pumpkin! Should try their cakes, macaroons, ice cream and drinks. Day 1 mission accomplished!

We will continue our journey on Part 2 – The Angkor Archeological Park.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma