My first time to Siem Reap, I felt so nervous as i went there on my own. Not much prepared, but this inaugural trip was among the most unforgettable trips ever. I decided to bought the flight ticket a year ago, and almost to cancel it. Through readings, i found that Siem Reap is a must-visit place, rich of culture and heritage.
Here, i am writing about the experiences, not a guide or itinerary. Visiting Siem Reap is simple for Malaysian, no need to apply for visa. Just help yourself to buy a ticket, book a hotel room with nice rate then experience the wonders. Cambodia is the kingdom of wonders.
1. The Flood
Before the flight did its landing on Siem Reap International Airport, I saw the view of a very big lake. As it was flying lower, gearing down and completing to bound on the runway then i realized that it is not the lake of Tonle Sap, but Cambodia is flooded with water.
Plenty of water, actually the ground is agriculturally based industry. The water flooded on paddy field, only still standing with half-submerged condition are the palm tress that seemed to be similar to coconut trees but shorter and having bigger dark green leaves. But it was the the condition at the lower ground, the town of Siem Reap was still good and businesses run normal. It was not as bad as the flood that hit Thailand, hundred people died.
2. Special Tuk-Tuk
Travelling in Siem Reap is very interesting to tell. Just raise your hand, a few tuk-tuks will come to you. You can have a chartered one, or just hire for a single-way destination. The tuk-tuk driver may offers you his talent to guide you, unless if you are lucky to get the registered, normally they will dress in proper shirt as you can read on it. Better to have a book, sketch your own itinerary then ask him to drive you anywhere as you wish. The tuk-tuk itself different, see the picture below and you know how many passengers to board on.
My second day, i met a small girl named Phao in front of Srah Srang Lake. She did very nice conversation as she called me 'Sir' and she came closer to ask where am I coming from. Playing some jokes, she finally showed her main intention to sell some kind of souvenirs. I didn't buy any, but she said she wanted to be a friend of mine even it will be our first and last meeting. She gave me a wooden-made bracelet as a lucky wish. Phao is a self-survive daughter after her father devoted to be a monk.
4. Angelina Jolie & Her LV Campaign
Not telling you how i love Angelina Jolie on TV but she is an idol for million people. She inspires the world with her beauty and talent. Angelina Jolie was in Cambodia for many times, having photo shoots for Louis Vuitton, casting for Tomb Raider and doing charity to help the Cambodians against poverty. Her adopted child, Maddox is originally from Cambodia. A few ancient temples were closed for days during the film shooting of Tomb Raider. So, Don't miss to have your picture at the spotted locations.
5. Emergency At Tonle Sap
It was never expected to experience the crazy storm at Tonle Sap. I won't miss to be there because it is among tourist spot, recommended by many others. Different to Angkor Archeological Park, Tonle Sap is a large and naturally beautiful freshwater lake. Unfortunately, i had to be tough to face the downpour, together coming with storm. Luckily i was safe even the storm was almost to kill me. Unforgettable moment, i never regret.
6. Lost My Footsteps
Another dark secret, was how i lost my footsteps inside Ta Phrom. Imagine how suddenly the cloud filtered half the sunlight, being trapped in a dark and silent with no others. Too far to run backward to the entrance and the water may causes damage to your camera. Walking slowly to find a safe place but i found myself to unconsciously stepped on a Linga. Some areas were flooded with water, then all the creepy imagination came through my mind and i started to realize all the detail inside the ruined building were carved with demons and ancient goddess. After all, I behave to keep walking towards the exit and enjoy the haunted palace experiences.
7. Cheap & Express
Let say you only have to pay 15 dollars for a pants. The cost is inclusive the material you choose and wages for measuring and stitching it then just ready to wear as you come by tomorrow. Within 24 hours, you will have a nice office pants. Very comfort and you will be treated pleasantly. Not much spending money to shop at the bazaars, just to have some souvenirs for friends like the fridge magnets only cost 1 dollar each. If you are able to bargain, 1 dollar will pay you for 2 pieces of fridge magnet. For Muslim, halal restaurants are there near Pub Street and Old Market.
8. The Linga
Just to note here for my own memory. It can't be shared. What a tragic drama! It happened in a crematorium, sigh!
p/s: A linga or a lingam is a very complex symbol of Hinduism. It is associated with Shiva, one of the three main gods of the Hindus. The Hindu scriptures say that a linga represents energy and strength. In almost all the temples of Shiva, Shiva is shown in the form of a linga
9. Man Next Door
A funny man staying next door, Mr. Francois from France. Having conversation with him, spending a few hours having cups of coffee, i found him as a very funny man. Always to make jokes, no wonder he is a pornographer. On the second unplanned day, we met a one of the temples then once again he made noise. There he was, imitating the carvings on the wall.
10. Sarn The Savior
Sarn is my tuk-tuk driver cum tourist guide. Actually i did my own itinerary from day 1 to day 4, but he managed to re-arrange the route to make sure that i will not miss the important spot. Sarn is not a registered tourist guide, he is originally from Siem Reap, he speaks good English and he knows well all roads in Siem Reap.
At Tonle Sap, i took a feeder small boat (like sampan) as all roads heading to jetty are flooded with water. In the middle way, suddenly it was rain, so heavy rain as wind blows very strong. When i reach at the small jetty point, i can't even see the view at 5 meters ahead, very cold, wet and i started to think of returning back. Seemed all fishermen were trying hard to park their boat and i had no where to go. Then i heard someone call my name, from there i knew Sarn is coming. "Nahar, I know you must be in fear so that is why i decide to come with you, don't worry."