From the next day onwards H started feeling worse and took to her bed. T who was working at the hostel went to the market with me where we grabbed her lemon, honey and ginger to make her hot drinks. She seemed to be coming down with flu symptoms and I was reluctant to do much without her, as I didn’t want her to miss out on anything.
I spent a few days reading and writing, spending time with people at the hostel and striking up friendships that I will always appreciate. I met a lovely retired couple from New Zealand, who had been backpacking in many different countries and had some fantastic stories. I went with the lady and had a bit of a girls pamper session one afternoon at a local spa down the road.
A travel blogger from Lithuania (Dz) who had been couch surfing with V joined the staff at TinTin’s. We chatted about people and places and all sorts whilst he practiced his cocktail making skills and I taste tested the final products.
On one of the nights, I went out with T and some of his friends to Pub Street. We drank beer and showed off our ridiculously cool dance moves at Angkor What? One of the biggest, loudest clubs on Pub Street. People dance on tables and scribble their name on the walls, the dance floor gets packed and spills out onto the street.
There’s a young girl who sells bracelets on this road, she has some brilliant hip hop moves and dances to the music with people outside the bars. She’s super bubbly and friendly and you can’t help but dance and chat with her. Her mother waits a little further along and keeps a watchful eye.
We almost had to climb the wall on the way back as the gate had been locked but luckily the security guard let us in.
I ate out at various little local restaurants, one thing I will miss about Asia is perfectly sticky steamed rice. Some of my favourite dishes included avocado shake, sticky rice & omelette for breakfast and Khmer amok fish curry (served in a coconut) for dinner.
When H was feeling a bit better Av took us to have a look around the night market by the river.
We jumped in a TukTuk that we hailed as we walked down there street and pulled up outside a bridge lit up with neon lights.
We crossed the bridge into the night market and wandered down alleys lined with shops both sides. Unfortunately, it was not in it’s full glory as we went during a national holiday and not every stall was open, but fantastic nonetheless. You can find everything here, bright patterned trousers in every colour, headphones, speakers and laser pens, handmade jewellery, candles in the shape of exotic flowers and hundreds of different scented incense sticks, paintings and carvings or apparently one of the best manicures in town.
I got absolutely and utterly destroyed by mosquitos at the night market, even after having covered myself in bug spray to the point of choking and so I would urge anyone who suffers as I do (being far too tasty for our own good, clearly!) to take extra precaution if possible. Make sure you have a very strong bug spray (I’ll be ordering 100% Deet for my next trip!) and wear something long.
I wouldn’t wish this upon any body! I apologise to TinTin’s, as by the time I had left your aloe vera plant only had two leaves left on it!
One of the guys (old eclectic R) staying at the hostel had his 76th birthday while we were there. We headed into Pub Street and started off at Red Piano where we had a few beers and listened to a fantastic live band who played on request just about any song you could think of.
We then headed to a Beatles themed bar called Yellow Submarine, which I had been looking forward to for most of the week, but it was closed! I was a little heartbroken at this I have to admit.
We carried on walking further down and stopped off at a small bar just down the street where we had a few more beers and H & T made a new friend.
Next we stopped for Bloody Mary’s at an American diner/biker themed bar, although the atmosphere dwindled slightly as everyone got sucked into the rugby.
Then we looped back round to the main bit of pub street. We were tired and hungry so myself, H & T stopped off at the same little cheap open restaurant we had on our very first day in Siem Reap, and R headed on to another bar. After dinner we decided to make our way back to the hostel, walking down the street lined with food vendors you can pick up any kind of tasty snack…
Crunchy crickets or cockroaches, tantalising tarantula, anyone?
T actually bought a small bag of crickets and munched on those as we made our way back.
I was curious but not curious enough to eat one of the roasted little bug eyed creatures. Even prawns with their heads still on freak me out a little!
We got back to the hostel and had one or two nightcaps before heading off to bed.
The next day, we sat in the main area of TinsTins having a coffee and met one of the new arrivals named C. A designer from France who had been studying in Shanghai for two years. We all went for a little trip to the market together for art supplies and spent the afternoon having a little art session.
My strength doesn’t really lie in mixed media but it was still good fun! I spent a while scribbling and scratching out patterns with oil pastels.
H did a portrait of her other half from Tibet in oil paints…
On one of the last days we went with Av for lunch at Kuriosity Kafe. A strange place, a little like an American diner, but with weird and wonderful metal statues inside and out and a random assortment of furniture.
In the evening, we went to The Temple bar which is just across the road from Angkor What? on Pub street. Downstairs becomes a club atmosphere when evening falls, with loud music pumping to rival their opponents across the street. Upstairs they have traditional dancers on stage, great food, fantastic looking cocktails, free pool tables and some nice seating.
With H feeling more up to scratch, we booked bus tickets back to Bangkok. The pick up time was less than ideal (4am) but there were not multiple pickup options so we just had to accept it.
As it was a sleeper bus, we had come to the conclusion (with some encouragement from the others) that it would make more sense to stay up for the night until pickup, and then sleep while on the move. It seemed like a good enough plan.
All of the guys stayed up with us to see us off. We had drinks (plenty of espresso martinis to keep us awake), we played music, chatted and played silly games such as celebrity head. By far the most amusing part of that game was getting AV to understand the concept of it and the rules! You know the one where someone writes a famous figure on a bit of paper, and you stick it on the forehead of the person next to you? Without looking, you ask yes or no questions to determine who you are.
Dv also introduced us to a head spin of a game to do with an open/closed box, something so simple, that took so long and caused so much confusion!
When the time came we said our goodbyes and hopped on the TukTuk that would take us to the coach.
At first I had been very overwhelmed in Siem Reap, I felt agitated and on edge. After a few days of getting to know the area and having no bad personal experiences, I started to relax little by little.
Siem Reap grew on me and I was a little sad to leave, although my nose never did become fully accustomed to the smell!
The beds on the bus were surprisingly comfy and it had free wifi. The mistake I made was to tell a friend where I was – “Oh lovely, bed bug city!” he exclaimed. After he said that, I kept itching and found it harder to doze off!
We reached the border, the Thai side being much more strict than their Cambodian counterpart across the road! It involved finger print scans, luggage scans and walk through detectors.
The queue this side was over an hour long, compared to the five minute wait when we entered Cambodia! We met a girl from Brazil who had been solo travelling for a year, and a young lad from France who had lost his bank card and had no cash. H gave him a €10 note that she had , and in return he insisted on giving her a silk scarf.
We shifted our bags along the floor with our feet and shuffled forward an inch or two every 10 minutes in the queue.
Eventually, we made it to the front of the line to get our stamps and then through the doors and continued down the corridor to exit Cambodia and enter Thailand.
Bangkok to be continued in next post…