When I told people that I had just returned from Angkor Wat, many of the reactions from people were, “Angkor What?”
Or there was a lot of head nodding, and pretending that they knew about where I was speaking.
I have to admit, I was a little unsure myself, when Dan said he wanted to go to Angkor and Siem Reap, because I really had no idea what to expect. So now that I’ve peaked your interest (have I?), here are 10 things to do in Angkor Wat, Cambodia…or more.
So foreign, to a foreigner like me, who did not know much about the region, or what to expect at all. I knew a little bit about the Khmer Rouge regime, and a tad about the war.
According to the Unesco Heritage Website, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia.
With the help of our Tour Guide, Yon, we learned so much about Angkor Wat. The forgotten city includes: the famous Temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon.
Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park, contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. It’s REALLY old.
Stay : In the high season, a 2 story suite with 2 Queen beds, only costs 85 USD at Rambutan Hotel & Resort (formerly Golden Banana Boutique Hotel & Resort).
The staff was so accommodating and kind, and of course they enjoyed being guests on “The Vicki Winters Show”. Everyone spoke English and could not have been any nicer…especially when I got stuck on my balcony with the door shut tightly behind me. I mostly chose this place because on the website, they said they were gay-friendly. I knew that meant it would be clean, nicely decorated, and awesome!
Eat: Cusine Wat Damrak, is a 2 star Michelin restaurant….in Siem Reap, CAMBODIA. Of all places. Keep in mind, that this is a city with very few traffic lights, hardly a car in sight, but they have a 2 STAR restaurant. For 26 USD, you get a 6 course tasting menu that is eclectic and elegant. TWENTY SIX dollars!
Tonle Sap croaker fish fillet
Smoked fish and garlic confit coconut broth with frog meat, cauliflower, wild candle yam and lemon basil
Palm Sugar Caramelized Eggplant with Fresh Peppercorn and Green Mango
Baked Snakehead Fish in Galangal Leaf, Pickled Wild Banana
Mondulkiri Grren Tea and Lychee, Chilled Fruits Soup with Lime Sorbet
Fresh Rice Flake Pancake with Honey Banana Chocolate Pot de Crème
Our awesome Tuk Tuk Driver, Mr. Kim Heart ,took us everywhere and took great care of us. When I wasn’t feeling well, he pulled up right in front of the pharmacy where I was able to get the right medicine for less than 2 dollars. “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz, Oh What A Relief It Is”
Not only did he drive us to and from the airport, Mr. Kim Heart also made sure that we got to see some things off the beaten path. He drove us to an area where we all boarded a long boat to the Floating Village.
Gawk At Things That The Locals Eat: Look carefully and you can see the ribs, legs, intestines, carcass of the DOG that was for sale.
Not, “How much is that doggie in the window?” but “Can I have a leg and thigh?”
This was the head of the dog in the trash. Apparently, the head and cheeks are not delicacies. Maybe the chefs just think its AWFUL, not offal. If they only knew.
They don’t eat the head….like it makes a difference which parts they do eat. It’s a DOG, for heaven’s sake.
Drink: This man’s motorbike, with side car, is a mobile food truck, of sorts. He ran long strands of sugar cane through a gasoline powered device that turned it into liquid, poured it into a baggie and closed it with a rubber band. Cambodians do not have the luxury of expensive and wasteful plastic cups and lids, that we all take for granted.
Cambodia is a world away from the USA, and nothing like most of the places we all know. This is a gas station. A barrel of gasoline is used to dole out portions of gas, that are poured into used soda or liquor bottles.
Meet the People: Even if the people don’t understand English, everyone understands a big fat smile.
I could have hung around with the children all day long.
Visit: Take a relaxing ride on a long boat to the floating village. We were lucky to have had our own boat to ourselves, and the captain even let us take a turn at the helm.
Every house is on stilts, in the water.
It’s a boat ride away to school, grocery store, post office, and anything else you can think of.
Tuk Tuks in the center of town
Learn Something About History:
Mr. Kim Heart made sure that we visited the war memorial on our way to the airport.
Feel Something: I was so touched and saddened, to meet this 2-year-old boy, who had hydrocephalus. Mostly because, when I was 25, I gave birth to a baby with the same disease. I was LUCKY that my baby died at birth, while his poor mom will have to tend to his needs and never have the joy of having a healthy child.
As I touched this dear boy’s face and kissed him on the forehead, my heart was so broken. His mom, who was so sweet, has no choice, but to beg for money.
Another family with a sick child were also in need as medical care is very hard to come by, and the people are so poor they have to eat dog meat. A smile, ten dollars, and a fake microphone go a very, very, very, long way.
Although Siem Reap is undoubtedly NOT for everyone, I am so happy that Dan dragged me there. Every time I travel I become more sensitive to people’s situations, and realize that we are all only flesh and blood, and basically the same. Everyone just wants to feed their families and give their children a better life than they have. It’s quite simple.
When I met Heather Graham this week, at The Creative Coalition Spotlight Awards, we talked about her involvement with the Cambodian Children’s Fund. Bless her heart.
Feel free to check them out and donate…..Did you see those adorable faces?
I’m sure I’ve peaked your Cambodia interests so when you want to know “What to do in Angkor Wat, Cambodia”… do not hesitate to ask me.
The BEST TOUR GUIDE Mr. Yon- Tour Guide Extraordinaire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org