• RTW budget: What it costs to travel in Cambodia

    RTW BUDGET BREAKDOWN WHAT IT COSTS TO TRAVEL IN CAMBODIA

    Our stay in Cambodia was short and sweet, wonderful and terrible. It is a place you cannot visit without feeling something – whatever that might be in your case.

    We spent just a couple of days each in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Moving this quickly, of course, inflates the daily budget. We also ate mostly in bakeries/restaurants. (Although staying at Hak’s House in Siem Reap, while a little bit of a trek from the main streets, provided us with a free breakfast and free mineral water refills from a cooler, as well as a cheap restaurant and easy travel bookings.)

    We found Cambodia quite challenging as visitors and spent as we saw fit to ensure our own comfort. But it is a very cheap country and you can of course do it for less. Here’s how we clocked in.

    Phnom Penh

    • May 28 – $221.85 (including $116 for Vietnam visas, $26 for bus tickets to Ho Chi Minh)
    • May 27 –  $132.13 (including $20 souvenir for T’s mum from the museum)

    Siem Reap

    • May 26 – $125.31 (including $40 for Angkor Wat passes, $18 for bus tickets to Phnom Penh)
    • May 25 – $73.21 (nothing notable today)

    Full travel day

    • May 24 – $144.64 – ($40 for Cambodia visas, $36 for the taxi – an outrageous amount as we were only three passengers along with a Chilean guy, and I oh-so-generously decided we should make up the shortfall as the couple.)

    Getting from Bangkok to Siem Reap was, uh, an experience. Read more about that here!

     

  • Tips for visiting Angkor Wat (or, the one in which a monkey climbs my leg)

    tips for visiting the angkor wat temple

    Don’t oversleep.

    Set your alarm, and double check it. Or else you will wind up arriving at the temples in the stifling mid-morning heat and run out of steam very quickly.

    Bring twice as much water as you think you need.

    A hat/umbrella wouldn’t go astray, either, and make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Unlike Thai temples, there aren’t scarves and coats provided for the improperly dressed.

    Do not engage with any locals hanging out within the temples.

    There will be children trying to sell you postcards and paintings, adults trying to give you a ‘blessing’ (for a fee of course), and who knows what else – one guy offered to take a photo of T and I together, then tried to usher us into a dark corner of Ta Phrom with him. I have no idea what he was up to, but I have no doubt it was scammy.

    Be prepared for anything.

    Of all the things I was expecting today, having a monkey latch onto my leg was not one of them. If you have any spare snacks, you could try feeding ’em, though apparently they’re picky.

    It starts to get interesting at about 1:20 (closeup) and 2:40 (where one takes it upon himself to latch onto my leg)

    I have no words to describe the temples themselves. Awe-inspiring is probably as good as it gets.

    They seem to lend themselves better to black and white shots.

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       That said, a couple of splashes of colour were just begging to be captured.IMG_8364bb

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    Finally, here’s a wee 360-degree shot from inside one of the temples (Bayon?); I was quite taken with the sheer amount of rubble in this courtyard.

  • First impressions of Cambodia

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    Dust.

    Dust that coats your eyelids, lips, arms, the space between your toes. Dust that drives visitors and locals alike to wrap scarves around their faces and pull masks over their mouths.

    Nature.

    Mother Nature at her rawest. Storms – one, two, perhaps three – all in the space of the 2-hour journey from the border to Siem Reap. Rain that beats down on your taxi with ferocious fists. Lightning that zigzags straight into the barren, brown ground on the far edge of the horizon – touchdown. Later, flashes of light in quick succession illuminate the distant night sky as you stroll into the township – more distant storms, perhaps?

    Hustle.

    Drivers, shopkeepers, beggars calling out to you at every turn. It’s a constant battle to shake them off, and an exhausting one. Hustling to earn a few bucks. A restaurant server who even moves to help you find a seat at the establishment opposite his own. Bizarre.

    Heights.

    So many temples. So many steps – steps that children, pregnant women, and those in immodest dress are barred from climbing. A fear of heights is no asset here. Not on these rickety, steep flights, some best scaled as you would a ladder, hand over hand.

    History.

    The oldest place, by far, that I have ever set foot inside. The scale of Angkor’s national park is incredible. The feats they accomplished without the efficiencies of modern technology, mindblowing.

    But I can’t lie. While we’re privileged today to enjoy the results of that hard labour, I can’t help but wonder … what if, rather than directed toward feeding royal egos, that energy and vision was channeled into something more widely beneficial – say, providing the basics for the masses?