Here I am again, staying inside the house, in Athens, because of the pandemic measures everywhere… I’m having a great time actually because I love stay at home! It’s also a great opportunity to write about the rest of my trip to Cambodia, and feel like travelling again, just a little bit.
This post is multi themed, always in Siem Reap of Cambodia but with a bit of everything. Temples and monuments, a special floating village and the city of Siem Reap where we were staying.
Don’t forget to click on the images to see some add infos and see them in bigger size!
Starting with the culture section and the amazing Banteay Srei. Maybe you can see a difference from the previous temples at Angkor and there’s a reason for that. It was built by a woman and that’s why it’s more delicate. Banteay Srei, that actually means the “Citadel of the Women”, is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, built in pink sandstone. It is one of the smallest sites at Angkor, with everything in smaller dimensions, but what it lacks in size it makes up in beauty and that’s why they call it the jewel of Khmer art.
Leaving the monument area, we met a group of musicians quite interesting! In Cambodia the victims of land mines can have a music band and play in public places in order to make a living. They were actually very good, playing traditional music, I liked it a lot! However, the most strange performance was by an old man playing a leaf!!! Right, a tree leaf…I don’t know how but yes! The sound was like a harmonica but sharper, if you can imagine.
You can check it in this youtube video:
Another temple complex we visited was the Pre Rup, a traditional royal crematorium. Pre Rup means ‘Turning the Body’ and refers to a traditional method of cremation in which a corpse’s outline is traced in the cinders. I remember feeling very inspired there, but on the other hand the Cambodian antibiotics (that I had taken the previous days) had just kicked in and I was feeling very good!
It was really interesting, to see how everything was taking under thought, and how everything was symbolizing something. The use of water, air and fire all together at the end of a life. Also, the site is among the jungle, so the view you have from above is just wow…
Afterwards, we took a very different visit by boat to the floating village of Kompomg Phluk, on the outskirts of Siem Reap where the locals live on houseboats. Believe me if I tell you that you can’t catch how impressive it was, just from the photos! It’s totally amazing how these people have built a huge community, a real town, in the water.
Siem Reap is home to multiple floating villages but I think this one was the larger or the most decent one. It’s impressive how people have adapted to their surroundings and live, work, go to school, to church or other public building, giving you a true appreciation for human persistence.
I think, whoever lives there doesn’t have to pay taxes or something like that, so a lot of people make that choice. So, it’s most about poor families, living in strange conditions – for me at least, but they’ve formed a perfectly working system for everyday life.
I remember visiting a restaurant to see the captured animals they had for clients, among them crocodiles! Some snakes too, and a lot of catfishes that we couldn’t see very well. There was also the home of the family who run the restaurant, who lived also there, watching tv as we passed by them – I was impressed that they weren’t bother at all by us. I remember they had also a little dog living with them which I found it very strange for a pet in a floating house!
People there live from fishing and all the family helps at it. It’s close to the huge lake Tonle Sap after all. Houses and buildings rest on tall, thin stilts that keep the occupants dry during the wet season, with giant ladders to reach the lower levels during the dry season.
It was funny to see children take their little boat to go to school or go play I guess; it was like a normal neighborhood but in boats and poles!
And now it’s time to finish this post about our activities in Siem Reap with the city of Siem Reap itself! Well, only by night because that was when we had the time to explore it. I must say that even if it was quite a touristic city I didn’t felt it in a bad way. It was very vivid, colorful and peaceful place where you could explore things depending your level of feeling comfortable!
The city has colonial and Chinese-style architecture, at least around the Old Market where we were staying. It’s a popular tourist destination so there are a lot of hotels, restaurants and businesses about this kind of industry. The Old Town, the famous Pub Street and Night Market are all together, by a large river, creating a very nice area for strolling around.
I loved the cocktail trucks in the streets, with neon lights and loud music, 5-6 stools to sit for a while and have a drink! Unfortunately, we saw them at the end of our walk, where we were completely exhausted (I was also with antibiotics so no alcohol…) and didn’t try them.
We did try though the famous fried ice-cream! It’s everywhere and you can’t miss it even if you want. So many flavors, but I loved the local mangos so much that everything I tried was mango.
We had dinner at two restaurants, the first one we founded by chance, just by looking around and we didn’t regret it at all! It had traditional Khmer cuisine, soups, curry, rice and fish of course, but in a unique flavor, very tasty. However, I bought a small package with a mix for Khmer’s soup, to cook it at home and it was awful!! I don’t know if it was me or the mix of spices…but it took me days to forget the smell of it in my kitchen!
The second one I found it at the internet and it was so good that I almost didn’t take any photos, damn it! Haven is a special place, it’s a training restaurant that creates new life prospects for underprivileged young adults. By teaching them quality work and life skills they help them gain self-esteem, prepare them for employment and build safe and independent futures. So, by having your meal at Haven you support their program, how cool is that? And the place was very pretty too, with a magical yard, and the food was great! It was a very nice experience eating in Siem Reap after all!
And here our trip to Siem Reap comes to an end, escalating from the quietest (Luang Prabang, Laos) to the most bustling places as we continue. Siem Reap was one of my most loved parts of our whole trip!
Stay tuned for the 3rd part of Cambodia days, with Phnom Penh at the next post!