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Welcome to Cambodia: Siem Reap and Phnom Penh

The main cities minus the main tourist attractions

Cambodia started off somewhat interestingly, a 12 hr day of travelling from Bangkok on the train for 6hrs, nearly being scammed at the most manic, hot and confusing border crossing, 2x tuk tuks, a 2hr minibus and nearly being left at the Siem Reap bus station in the middle of nowhere in the dark left me exhausted, annoyed and unsure. It was all offset though, by meeting a fab group of people to negotiate all this with and then ended spending the 3 days in Siem Reap with. That night was spent recovering with lok lak (best Cambodian meal ever, been hanging out for it ever since I left last time 2 years ago) and cocktails on the aptly named Pub Street.
So being the budget backpacker I am, I was staying at a fun but pretty grungy hostel dorm in town. The other guys however where staying at an amazing hotel, with a gorgeous pool. Lesson learnt: walk in like you belong, have people around you and you can get away with using their pool for the day. Win! That + traditional Aspara dancing show sums up day 1.
The main 'attraction' at Siem Reap is Angkor Wat and the collection of temples. Although met with confusion of everyone I met, I made the decision not to visit them this time round. I had seen the sunrise and spent quite a while looking around last time I was here and yes they are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. However, I knew that if I did it again, it wouldn't be as awe inspiring as last time and I didn't want to lose that, also it wasn't cheap so I just didn't feel it was worth it.
While the others did the temples, I went to the landmine museum started by a former child soldier who planted landmines and then after the war, dedicated his life to clearing them. His name, Aki Ra sounded familiar and I realised that he had been on Hamish & Andy's gap year Asia show. Truly amazing stuff. Had a wander around the night market and caved an brought some hippy pants, though I swore I never would...oops. I was surprised how much I loved Siem Reap, initially it was only a stop on the way down south, but as a town purely built for tourists and backpackers it was loads of fun, easy to get around and really interesting.
Was Phnom Penh bound the next morning and again, chose not to visit the killing fields and S21 again.
I devised my own 'walking tour' of Phnom Pehn visiting the Russian Market, Victory monument, Friends restaurant (a teaching restaurant for former street kids..amazing!!), national museum, Wat Ounalom and the riverfront. Made the most of the hostels rooftop bar that night (Mad Monkey....highly recommend if you ever find yourself in PP) before heading down to the coast in the morning.
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Posted by isabellepurcell 00:06

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