Going to Siem Reap!
After three days in Phnom Penh it was time for me to head to Siem Reap and the temple complex of Angkor Wat. I booked a bus ticket and departed Phnom Penh centre in high spirits. I was beyond excited to experience Siem Reap and honestly I was also happy to leave the bustle of the city.
6 hours of driving through the countryside of Cambodia did nothing to dampen my spirits. The bus was comfortable and the roads were in surprisingly good shape. I was so happy to have chosen the bus instead of flying, as it afforded me a glimpse of life outside of the big city. Shacks lined the streets and children, animals and local villagers gave me plenty to watch!
The 6 hours flew by and before I knew it, I was meeting the driver from my hotel, the Shintana Saya Residence. The Shinatana Saya is a boutique hotel with only 9 rooms located just outside of Siem Reap. I had chosen to stay for 3 nights as I really needed to unwind and relax after some hectic days of traveling and unpacking and packing my luggage in what seemed like an endless cycle! The Shintana Saya was perfect for this, as it had a wonderful little pool, great drinks and lots of peace and quiet!
The only stress I experienced was one day while I was showering, where I grabbed the shampoo bottle and felt something move under my fingers! I screamed like a crazy person and a little gecko fell onto my wet feet and tried to swim away…I got the biggest fright, but happy to see it wasn’t a spider I quickly helped my little bath buddy to safety behind the toilet!
I have company!
The 3 days passed quickly and it was finally time to head to the airport to pick up Thomas, my boyfriend. He had traveled for almost 30 hours and was just as excited as me to begin our travels together. This trip is the first longer trip where I am not solo the entire time and while the prospect of sharing my adventures with Thomas made me really happy, I’ll be honest and admit I was a bit hesitant too! Mainly because I was worried that I had gotten too used to traveling alone and that I might not have the patience to take another person’s wishes and habits into account when making travel decisions. When you get accustomed to eating when you feel like it, exploring when you feel like it and generally following your own impulses, the idea of having to include someone else can be daunting! On the other hand however I was really looking forward to having someone to talk through the day’s experiences with and of course to cuddling, laughing, eating and exploring with Thomas! 😉
Exploring Siem Reap
Twosomeness got off to a great start as we checked into Viroth’s Hotel in Siem Reap. Viroth’s has been voted the best hotel in the world on TripAdvisor in 2018 and it wasn’t hard to see why! From the airport pickup in a vintage Mercedes, to the absolutely stunning design and the impeccable service we received from the staff, Viroth’s was an amazing place to stay. Another huge plus was that the hotel was located within walking distance of Siem Reap centre where we went every night for dinner, shopping and drinks.
Siem Reap is a really cool town. It has several amazing hotels of extremely high standard, a bustling midtown area and plenty of entertainment options. But it also has a local feel to it…it isn’t too polished or too touristy and while Pub Street is an absolutely crazy place, teeming with nightlife, beggars, salesmen and tourists, there are plenty of places where you can sit and enjoy the more authentic life of the locals. I really loved this little town!
On the first day after Thomas’ arrival we had plans to go riding in the countryside surrounding Siem Reap. Thomas had booked this adventure as a Christmas gift and I couldn’t wait. We rode out from The Happy Ranch Horse Farm (which is known for treating the horses really well) with our guide in the late afternoon and mounted on our trusty steeds Rambo and Baloo we ambled through rice fields and villages enjoying it thoroughly. It was fascinating to experience the little local villages where the children waved and shouted when we rode by, the magnificent water buffalos in the rice paddies and farmers herding hundreds of ducks across streams and fields. Everywhere we went people greeted us with smiles and waves and we of course reciprocated!
That night back in our hotel we were ready to sleep at 9 pm, tired from the fresh air and excitedly looking forward to finally visiting Angkor Wat the next day!