>> Monday, September 12, 2016
[Part 1 - City Tour] [Part 2 - Angkor Wat] [Part 3 - Angkor Thom]
Two months after the trip, I finally found the time to write this last part and the concluding entry to my Cambodia trip.
Whenever I visit other countries or places, I like to observe. Observe how people live, what works in their countries, how it differs from where I live, and lessons I could bring home.
Here are 5 things I've learned and love about Cambodia (besides the rich history that they have):
1. The people are hella nice. I told Cerz and Edlyn, "They're so nice, it's annoying."
I just realized I don't have photos of people. lol Here's a random lamppost instead.
All throughout our stay, I was waiting for just one moment where I would have a bad experience with a local. We were there for 5 days and every single one of them was polite, courteous, respectful, and nice. You would know that it is in their culture to be chill and nice because they're not just nice to the tourists, but to their fellow Cambodians as well. They were patient with us when they could not understand us sometimes, and would go lengths to ask around to help us find our way around the city.
One time we were looking for a KFC store (I know, we wanted to try how KFC tasted like in other countries okay), one staff member of an ice cream shop really went out of her way to look for a map, run after us and tell us where to go. If I could grade their customer service from 1-10 with 10 being the highest, I'd give a 100.
2. They value the silence. Besides the occasional prayers by the Buddists (which I find very calming), Siem Reap was quiet. People didn't talk loudly, the motorcycles (which is their regular mode of transport) had their silencers working, and there were no street parties (aka the drunk karaoke nights). It was like they respected each other by giving them the space to be quiet.
Our hotel: Kiri Botique Hotel
We spent one whole morning lounging and chilling by the pool (also because we were tired from the two-day tour). It was relaxing because everything was quiet except for the gentle breeze of the wind, the birds chirping and hopping on the roof tops, and the swishy waves of the pool.
3. Feel free to splurge. Spending in Cambodia is cheap. They prefer to transact in US Dollars, which makes it easy for tourists. We didn't have to mentally convert prices and check if fees were cheap or not. This is a rough breakdown of what I spent, except for food. We shared our food expenses so I don't really know how much I spent per person. All I remember is that food prices range from $1 to $9. The $9 dish can be shared by 3 people.
Expenses for the whole trip. Does not include food.
Oh, beware of the Happy Pizza if you don't want to be detained in immigration for looking high. hahaha They have a pizza dish that has marijuana leaves in them, instead of basil and green bell peppers. We ordered an all-meat pizza to be sure that we won't be tricked in getting a Happy Pizza. haha But to be fair, they have restaurants that specifically serve happy pizza so don't fret.
The night market is the biggest and most famous (and probably only) food and shopping area in Siem Reap. There are not that many malls in the city, so if you want to do your shopping and experience different cuisines, then go to the night market. The night market is also open during the day, but it transforms into one happy party place when the sun sets.
4. Riding the tuktuk is fun. It was a good choice for us to take the tuktuk instead of a private taxi for our day tour and temple tour. The air in Siem Reap is clean so you don't have to worry about air pollution and riding in an open vehicle. Riding a tuktuk from one place to another is around $2-3 dollars, depending on how far two places are from each other. You can haggle, but the most they'll charge you is $3. They'll still do it politely and give you the best service possible.
5. Siem Reap is tourist-friendly. Before the trip, my mom was concerned that three girls were going to Cambodia for the first time. Not once did I feel unsafe while walking around. Friends who have visited Cambodia would say the same thing and they all had positive comments about their stay.
I saved this guide I found on Pinterest which also served as my checklist.
- Countries who are part of the ASEAN don't have to bother on the VISA. Upon landing, we went straight to immigration and didn't have to fill out a visa form and pay a fee. For non-ASEAN residents, I think the visa fee is $25.
- According to our tour guide, the first quarter of the year is the best weather to visit Cambodia. However, that is the bulk of visitors so he does not recommend if you don't want to experience a people-filled Angkor Wat. June is a good time too because it's in the middle of summer and rainy season. There's not that many people but the weather is still hot. You'll never win. lol
- Tips are required. With the cheap prices, a 10% tip isn't too heavy on the pocket. Sometimes we give more than the 10% because how can you give a 10-cent tip for a $1 bill?
- Out of the 8 food dishes listed on the guide, I was able to try the Noodle Soup, Pork and rice, Curry and Iced Coffee. I enjoyed the iced coffee the most because it's tastes so much better than the iced coffee drinks I get here in Manila. I'm not too sure what they meant by sour fruits because there are a lot of sour fruits. If that means pineapple, mango, then I guess I ate that too. Not too different than the fruits here in the Philippines. I didn't get a chance to eat insects because my companions weren't that adventurous (lol I love you still), and I could not find a vendor who sold it.
While waiting for boarding
I want to come back some day, and explore the other sights in Siem Reap. There's still the Flying Gibbon tour, which is more of a nature tour. We skipped the Kulen Mountain for a chillax day in the pool, but I still want to check that out. I also need to get my biking skills back so I can rent a bike and go around the city liesurely and hang out in different places like a local.
Wait for me Cambodia okay? I'll visit you again.