Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Stories of a visit to the Khmer Kingdom

Here's some stories to be shared about my recent trip to Siem Reap. I have typed halfway of the write up on notepad but I lost it sebab mati karan and I didn't save it. ( note to myself next time must save from time to time ). The trip I went is an airasia.go package. First time cuba the airasia.go and I found it not bad juga lah. =)

  • Highlights of the trip

And why in the world I have to highlight the airport? Because it is SO QUIET!  Touchdown then I was so surprised that everyone were taking photos at the tarmac area. ( Well usually they will warn you not to do that right? ) But this one is like pesta only. There are no other planes in sight except for ours that's why its so sunyi. The architecture of the small airport is also very astounding. Unique!

Apsara dance

You will notice the word Apsara is present everywhere in Cambodia. The guide told me that it refers to the government. The word Apsara also means a lady dancer, a celestial dancer. The images of this dancers are carved at the walls of the temple. According to the legend of the Khmer people, this dancers emerged from the froth of the milky sea when the Gods  and Demons churned the sea to find the elixir of life.

If I am travelling, I usually pay attention more to the cultural stuff so this Apsara dancing really caught my attention. I love cultural things. In Siem Reap, quite a number of places offer the show of this Apsara dance. I went to a restaurant cum bar called "The Temple" at Pub Street where they offer nightly free cultural dances that includes Apsara dance too. 

One dollar kids
Thin frail kids, its unlikely to see obese chubby ones there

The attack of the One Dollar kids - "Lady, one dollar" "You help me buy book" - Then change to Mandarin " Jiejie , yi kuai..yi kuai " "Ni mai zhe ge, hen piao liang" . Very multilingual I tell you. They can even speak Japanese and Korean. The first tactic is for them to ask "Lady, where you are from". Gah! Clearly getting ready to switch language punya mode sudah tu. They are very persistent too.

This one was when they followed me like 200metres walking, non stop promoting their items. Kesian juga bah, tapi lama2 ni kalau every temple pigi ada saja ni budak2 lama2 macam tidak kasian sudah. Immune. Terkejut saya lagi when I was walking down the road kan then out of the blue from the woods came this kids with their barang jualan. Dari hutan tu. Atukoi! Anyway, memang kasian bah dorang ni. I heard that this kids if you buy the things from them kan, its not them who keep the money, macam ada orang lain yang akan collect and God knows how much they will be paid for their jualan.

Siem Reap is quite an interesting place. Memang betul2 third world country la the feeling. The local currency is almost non existent because the main currency used for trading is US Dollars even though they also use Riel ( the local currency). Saya pun mula2 wonder apa currency for Cambodia because Riel is not famous kan.

There are several markets available around Siem Reap. I shopped at the Old Market and also Central Market. Shopping Mall ada satu saja yang saya pigi itu pun kicik saja called Lucky Mall. Anyway, I think for a tourist to shop its best to do it at the Angkor Night Market and other several night markets around. Well, all the markets sell pretty much the same things but I just felt that the Night Market is more happening. Hehe. Price for things? Hmmm, bargaining is the way to shop. How tahan you can "gaduh" with the seller about the price - all up to you. Bargaining is definitely an art.

At the sides of the causeway are moats. This was in front of Angkor Wat

Before I came to Cambodia, I have no idea what moat is. And its astounding that the people dulu2 made this without proper machines like we have now. Our guide told us that the Angkor Wat moat used to be more than 10metres deep and crocodiles used to live in them. Hmmm, that really serve the purpose to guard the temple eh? Man made moats, they are everywhere! Almost every temple ada.

After the great distance of walking around and climbing the steep steps of the temple, nothing can beat the treat from the spa. Clearly, the techniques they used in massage are not the same like in Thai or Bali massage. Khmer Massage, you should give a try. This particular spa that we went is called Lemongrass Spa. Yes, it's clean and its not some shady massage parlor. They have a certain standard and the masseurs looks well trained. It will be not as cheap as the cikai spa but its worth the price. Usually good spa wont have the ladies/masseurs lurking around the entrance door coaxing the passerby to go in. Haha. 


The main attraction Siem Reap is the temples. The moment I touchdown, went to the hotel, left our bags then straight to touring the temples. Bingung2 lagi. It's always good to have some research or reading material about the temples if you want to visit without a guide. Guides are available around especially at Angkor Wat. Of course it's not free, even the entrance to the temple area you have to pay tickets as well. So, a guide book will be good if not you will be very blur like me. Haha. Masuk satu temple pigi satu temple, all I see are pile of rocks saja. Pigi tumpang2 dingar guide urang lain saja bila limpas2 dorang.
People say its best to be at the magnificient Angkor Wat at sunset or sunrise. Bad timing pula saya pigi Cambodia, its actually the rainy season. Oct - March baru okay. Ciss..Bad rain bad rain! Yeah, seriously. Suka hati saja tu hujan turun. Awan hitam datang lepas tu memang hujan berabis. Once it pours, it really pours. An umbrella will always come in handy! For the sun and for the rain and to ward off the "one dollar attack". haha


The main transportation. I enjoy the rides but kalau jumpa jalan yang berlubang-lubang, badan pun jadi macam milkshake terus. Haha. The price of the tuk tuk ride also have to bargain. Basically, everywhere you wanna go from point to point around town area must be 1 Dollar. Well, the tuk-tuk driver always "buka harga" at a higher price lah. Just cakap 1 Dollar, if they refuse just walk away, chances they will agree to your price is very high. Hehe

  • Food to try
I have tried Amok and the Lok Lak,. Sedap! Murah juga la makanan dia sana. Mau pilih kedai mana la makan. If it looks very classy, the price also very "classy". Just don't be to cheapskate pula susah ni cos places like very cikai may cause you diarrhea pula. ( especially if you have weak stomach ). Besides a tourist will always be offered a tourist price juga tu no matter what. Unless you can speak the Khmer language lah. 

You can try this Karo restaurant. Sedap the makanan. One dish is around 2USD and the beer is 0.50USD. 

Angkor Beer is a must try! Personally i think the beer tasted more or less like Bintang Beer in Bali. 

For future travellers to Siem Reap, well I am no expert in travelling, sharing saja la ni;

  • Good sandals or walking shoes are recommended especially if you want to explore the temple like Lara Croft. Hehe
  • Umbrella! It was so hot one minute and when the dark clouds came then it rain like cats and dogs
  • Water bottle; some shop sell bottled waters that really look very suspicious ( as if they bottle it themselves ) , so its best to boil water in the hotel room and bring your own.
  • Buy a guide book for the temples, or pigi hafal the temples yang ada and the stories or even better get a guide. Because if you plan to visit a lot of temples, without a guide, you will be merely looking at batu-batan. Haha.


Lizeewong said...

Very very interesting oh. Sia heran napa dorang pakai USD ah? Napa nda pakai currency sendiri? Mahal la tu kan? Anyway, I think your pics are awesome especially the moats and tu pokok mati tu ^__^

Joan said...

Ada juga dorang use their own currency but it seems that USD are widely accepted.. ^_^

Onderay said...

boleh tulis article untuk lonely planet la u :)

Onderay said...

kenapa tidak update di green shoes blog?

chegu carol said...

Kalau ada like button, sa pasti akan like berulang kali. Siam Reap is in my travel list tapi not so soon...but who knows kan. Sa rasa interesting betul how you managed yourself through ur trip...macam adventure betul rasa ni :)

Amanda Christine Wong said...

great! i'll probably PM u asking gazillion things before going :D

Joan said...

Onderay --> am considering to be a travel writer now. Haha. btw, green shoes blog was only dedicated for the last Euro trip.

Chegu Carol -->managing myself through the trip was all with the help of the boyfie. kalau saturang gerenti lintang pukang juga ni. U go hujung tahun la..tidak kuat hujan time tu.

Amanda --> happy to help. I did this write up pun is because you did ask for a write up about my trip kan. share2 bagus kan. ur previous post about ur journey in phillipines pun i feel very useful!

Mell_f said...

good info! btw pic no 6,what happened to ur payung?