Where to start with Siem Reap!.. We arrived with the intention of staying 4-5 nights and ended up being there for 9 so obviously I liked it!
Firstly our hostel (Downtime Siem Reap hostel) had a pool and generally it was pretty sunny most days so a day by the pool just came and went.
Secondly our visit to Angkor Wat was amazing! It’s such a old historical site. We got a tuk tuk at 5am to watch the sunrise and then continued round 2 other sites during the morning. We had heard a lot of people don’t get a sunrise because of the cloud at this time of year but we had a lovely morning so we got a sunrise and blue skies the whole morning.
Thirdly the nightlife, There’s a pub crawl that’s run twice a week so we did that one night and ended up out for the next 3 nights in a row all until the sun started to rise. There’s only 2 bars that you can really go to on pub street that play good music and then you end in another bar playing drunken pool (very badly in my case) but for some reason it doesn’t seem to get boring.
And fourthly the people! Cambodians are definitely the nicest people I’ve met.
There was a girl named Linda in her teens who sold bracelets down pub street at night and during the day when she wasn’t at school but instead of just going around asking you to buy one she would start a conversation, have a joke and because she was so nice and there was no pressure you would buy one from her and after afew days she remembered us too and would always come and see us with a huge smile on her face. She was also an amazing dancer and would break out her moves in the early hours on pub street, but talking of moves on our first night we saw a guy dancing and thought he looked like the ‘Beyoncé’ we had met down South and when we asked his name he replied ‘Beyoncé!!’ He was our favourite and after a few nights being out would remember us too and had some really good conversations with us, we also then met some of his friends who all made a huge effort to meet us out on our last night, it’s so nice to meet just normal locals who have such a different life to you but they are so friendly and interested as were we.
The next person who sticks out in my mind is the hostel owners daughter. She’s 5 and is the cutest kid I have ever met and again after a few days remembered us and our names and we had a great time speaking and playing with her.
We also visited a school just out of town which is run by a Cambodian guy and relies on western volunteers to teach so they held an afternoon where we could go along and see what they do and the money from the ticket went to improving the school. Locals can go at any age and you could tell they loved it and their teachers which was great.
There is a lot of beggars and scams in Siem reap though which is hard to see and say no to but after travelling for a while and after hearing what really happens to the money they ask for you just have to say ‘no’ to some people however there were a group of men who were missing limbs due to landmines who used to play instruments at night in various places in town so this is something you were happy giving money to.
We also visited a circus act put together by very poor and disadvantaged teenagers and young adults. It was a great performance and you could really see where your $15 was going as well as having an entertaining hour!
Overall I loved Siem reap. It was that perfect end to Cambodia and now I know why all my friends just love Cambodia! This is one country I would definitely go back to.