October 15th, 2012

Siem Reap - Day 1 (5th Aug 2012)

My sister and I wanted an exotic getaway...off the beaten path...rich cultural heritage...here we are in Siem Reap, Cambodia! We flew with Silkair and the aircraft flying to Siem Reap (from Singapore) was an Airbus A319 small and pretty rough ride. Surviving the approximately 2-hour flight, we finally arrived at Siem Reap International Airport.


Siem Reap International Airport

The airport terminal looked more like a resort with a barren runway and that's it. Boyyy it was freaking HOT at 40-42 deg celsius! Sw's mother was not kidding.  

Met up with our 4WD driver and it was only 15 minutes drive to the city center before finally arriving at our accommodation Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor.

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor (4)

1930s Elevator that works!

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor (5)

Welcome drink as you rest in the lounge and check-in by the sofa. Not at the reception. 

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor (2)

Then our room concierge showed us to the room and we loved the balcony view.

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor (3)

Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor (1)

http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Hotel_Review-g297390-d301599-Reviews-Raffles_Grand_Hotel_d_Angkor-Siem_Reap_Siem_Reap_Province.html

Had a few hours to ourselves before meeting up again with the 4WD driver to head over to Phnom Bakheng for sunset. It was a 30-45 minutes climb up the hill where Phnom Bakheng is located, those willing to splurge can fork out US$20-30 per pax each way for the elephant ride up and/or down.

Phnom Bakheng (6)

The excitement faded as we saw the horrible queue. Apparently, the authorities decided to limit number of tourists to preserve Phnom Bakheng. Also, they stop tourists from climbing to the top of Phnom Bakheng around 5-5:30pm.

Phnom Bakheng (1)

Phnom Bakheng (3)

We walked around Phnom Bakheng several times before heading back down the hill. Then, we asked the driver to drop us at Alliance (Art) Cafe, which received good reviews online for their French cuisine.

Wat Damnak, 7 Makara Street

Siem Reap Angkor, Cambodia

Tel : +855 (0)63 964 940

contact@allianceangkor.com

www.allianceangkor.com

Alliance Art Cafe (2)

Alliance Art Cafe (1)

We ordered escargots, onion soup and duck confit which were great! Even after including drinks and a set of Khmer dishes, the total bill came up to around US$50-60 for the both of us. 

Alliance Art Cafe (4)

Alliance Art Cafe (5)

Alliance Art Cafe (6)

With our stomachs filled, we took a short walk to the city center and around Pub Street (pubs, bars, restaurants and massage parlours) before hopping onto a tuktuk (plenty) back to the hotel for US$2. 

Pub Street

Took a good rest before embarking on the Angkor-packed tour over the next 3 days.  


Siem Reap - Day 2 (6th Aug 2012)

After a thorough research, we decided to go with Mr. Son Day Tours. The 3.5-day itinerary was reasonable at US$270 including US$90 for 2 x US$40 3-day Angkor Pass and 2 x US$5 Beng Melea Entrance Fee, and airport transfers. More information can be found at http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Attraction_Review-g297390-d2182242-Reviews-Mr_Son_Day_Tours-Siem_Reap_Siem_Reap_Province.html


This morning we were a little pressed for time, hence we decided to order in-room breakfast (bacons, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, smoked salmon, Danish pastries, fruits, hot chocolate and cereal) at the balcony. I could wake up to this any day!

Breakfast In-Room (2)

Breakfast In-Room (1)

First stop at Angkor Thom's Southern Gate. Elephant "lovers", again, you can pay US$15-20 for an elephant ride into Angkor Thom.

Angkor Thom - South Gate

Angkor Thom - South Gate´s Gods on the Left

Angkor Thom - South Gate´s Smiling Stone Faces 2

Then we went over to one of the key attractions - The Bayon. One of my favourite temples. Do wake up early to beat the crowd and noise that came with it. 

The Bayon - Seen Through A Door

The Bayon - Main Tower 2

The Bayon - Apsara

The Bayon - Framed with Door

A great example of the intermittent showers in Siem Reap. One moment it is all sunny and hot, the next moment passing showers. It can get pretty muddy around the temples, do bring an umbrella and wear proper footwear. 

The Bayon - Downpour

Back into the 4WD, we drove about 5 minutes before stopping at the entrance of a forest short-cut towards Preah Khan.

One of the Angkor Temples - Fallen Tree

Apsara in the Hall of Dancers

Preah Khan - Apsaras in the Hall of Dancers

Preah Khan - Children Hanging Out

Preah Khan - Crushing Tree Roots 2

A library apparently.

Preah Khan - Library

Sweet couple...awwwwwww

Preah Khan - Wedding Photoshoot 2

After Preah Khan, the next stop was Baphuon. Both a must-see and must-climb (to climb, LADIES do be mindful of your attire as the authorities require tops that cover shoulders and pants/skirts that at least cover your knees) temple with amazing view at the top!

Baphuon - Steep Climb

Baphuon - At the Top

Baphuon - From the Top 2

At the back of Baphuon, an unfinished reclining Buddha built with fallen stones from other parts of the temple. 

Baphuon - Unfinished Reclining Buddha 2

A short 5-10 minutes walk to the Terrace of the Elephants before breaking for lunch nearby. Lunch within the park can cost around US$15-20 per pax but the both of us ordered 5 dishes to share and two huge coconuts. 

Terrace of Elephants

To be continued...


Siem Reap - Day 2 (6th Aug 2012) [continues]

Lunch was mainly Khmer food which tends to be sweeter than normal, full of vegetables and coconut milk.

Next stop, the only temple that faces West in the Angkor Archaeological Park...



Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat - Hidden Among the Trees

Angkor Wat - The Causeway

Gallery of Bas-Reliefs

Angkor Wat - Gallery of Bas-Reliefs

Angkor Wat - Interior

Climbing Five-Towered Temple, Mount Meru, within Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat - Climb to Five-Towered Temple, Mount Meru

One of the five towers of Mount Meru

Angkor Wat - One of the Five Towers, Mount Meru

The tour ended early for today. My sister and I decided to join a Quad Bike tour with Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure (booked through the hotel with free pick-up and drop-off). There are two companies - do choose Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure because of their newer bikes, professionalism and regard for safety; the other company seems to condone reckless speeding with older bikes. Do try the Sunset at Padi Field 1-hr tour (US$28 per pax) and remember to wear long pants to protect your legs against the engine heat. More information at http://www.srquadbikeadventure.com/

Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure  (2)

Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure  (1)

After Quad Biking, we went back to the hotel for the Raffles' Apsara Terrace BBQ Buffet Dinner. The classical Apsara dance was captivating, but the BBQ Buffet Dinner was okay and not really worth the price in my opinion. 

Lounge and Pool

Raffles Apsara Dance & Dinner (2)

Poolside Bar

Raffles Apsara Dance & Dinner (3)

The Apsara Terrace

Raffles Apsara Dance & Dinner (1)

Been a long day. More temples tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.