The Cambodia Meetup

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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My tub-tuk transfer from the airport to the hotel

Despite the proximity of Cambodia to Singapore, there was never an urgency to visit the country as the ancient temples do not excite me as much as trekking in the beautiful mountains. So when Jon (Northlight) organised a Meetup in Cambodia, I thought it was a great opportunity to see the old friends and meet the new ones while visiting a country that I have not been before.

I decided for a whirlwind visit on the Siem Reap leg of the Meetup for the famous Angkor temples while skipping Phnon Penh altogether as the place is too heartbreaking for me to visit. The scars from the country’s dark chapter in history four decades ago where the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot tried to wipe out the knowledge and the elite of the country by killing more than 2 million innocents are still visible in the capital in the form of maimed people due to the land mines as well as the killing fields and genocide museum.

Amy's beautifully presented lunch at Amok Restaurant

The short two and a half days in Siem Reap was a very fruitful one with 16 Travbuddies from 11 countries and all having a great and fun time together. They were:

UK : Jon (Northlight) ~ very important as he was the organiser of this Meetup!;  Philippines : Lhea (lheaaustria) and Nolan (Nolan); Hong Kong : Amy (Kurama80); USA - Lee (lajohn24); Czech Republic : Brett (bitethelime); India : Bhushan (bhush2006), Jairaj (sky69) and Digvijay (diggy5ue); Belgium : Wouter (wouternet); Australia : Merlina (Merlss); Malaysia : Haiza (yayai); Indonesia : Maya and sister (mmeymey); Singapore : myself :)

One website wrote: “Nobody leaves Cambodia disappointed.

A tight squeeze for the 5 of us in the tub-tuk :)
The exotic land of the Angkor Kings lies waiting to be explored.”

Indeed, I did not leave Cambodia disappointed! I had a very memorable visit to Bantaey Srei, a beautiful 10thcentury Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Cut from stones of a pinkish hue with some of the finest stone craving, this temple is considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art. And for the early birds (Bhushan, Digvijay, Haiza, Merlina and me) who left town at 5.30am as this temple is 40km away and we did not want to disrupt Jon’s plan for the day, we saw the most beautiful sunrise in a brilliant orangey hue on the temple grounds in peace without the hordes of tourists like those waiting for sunrise at Angkor Wat. It was a beautiful and special moment and the 5 of us were all mesmerised by it. With the entire group, we all had fun getting to know each other while enjoying the tuk-tuk rides, visiting the places of interests and having wonderful local meals and beer together.

Angkor Wat in the evening

When the entire Cambodian trip was eventually over, the best quotes came from Lhea and Nolan on the group chat which were so apt J

Lhea : “The friendship gained is just starting and continuing for some.”

Nolan : “It is an amazing feeling getting people from all over the world to converge in one place, travel together to a few and then head back home after it is over. And then repeat the cycle again and again.”

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Arriving in Siem Reap on time at 9.50am in the morning, I was picked up by a Tuk-Tuk driver organised from the Shadow Angkor Residence hotel. The short 15mins ride from the airport to town was pleasant as the morning temperature was still cool. A city still under development, there is no tall skyscraper in the city yet and there are plenty of huge and beautiful hotels along the way into town.

The beautiful sunset of Cambodia

Nolan who had unfortunately hurt his left foot in Hoi An did not join the others for the visit to a jungle temple that was discovered not too long ago. So on arrival at the hotel, we went straightaway to Royal Angkor International Hospital to get his foot checked which turned out to be a fracture.  After about an hour and a half of professional treatment from the medical team including X-rays and cast, we were ready to leave the hospital to get back to the hotel to meet the rest coming back from their excursion.

Lunch was at Amok Restaurant within walking distance from the hotel and whose speciality is the most traditional Khmer food. We were impressed by the beautiful presentation of the food served nicely on plates with leaves and flower petals. However, most of us decided that the food was nothing special and that the nice presentation contributed to the higher than usual restaurant prices.

The group that went to see sunset at Angkor Wat

It was 3.30pm by the time the group was ready to leave. With different interest, half the group decided to forgo a visit to the National Museum for the purchase of ticket for the Angkor temples followed by seeing sunset at Angkor Wat.

There were nine of us and we decided to hire only two tuk-tuks. It was a tight squeeze and we had to reshuffle ourselves around in order to fit into the tuk-tuks. The tires of the tuk-tuk that Lee, Brett, Digvijay and Merlina were in had even to be pumped up for a better ride.

It was an enjoyable journey to the ticket office and buying the tickets was also a breeze with many counters being opened. Making our way to Angkor Wat after that, we managed to arrive just in time to catch the beautiful orange sun setting. There were many pedlars including kids selling cut fruits and postcards around the entrance to Angkor Wat.

The kids trying to sell us the cut pineapple. 1 dollar, 1 dollar ....
The pineapples looked delicious but one has always to be careful eating uncooked street food and I did not want to risk having a bad tummy for the following day when visiting the Angkor temples. But one thing I did try and absolutely loved was the bamboo glutinous rice cooked with coconut and red beans that was sold for US$1 each. Perhaps I was hungry but it was really tasty.

We headed off for dinner at The Moon Cuisine that has a wide choice of tasty Cambodian food. The local Angkor draft beer at US$0.50 is so much cheaper than drinking water. We all had a great dinner with plenty of laughter and some of us including myself eventually left at about 10pm as we had to wake up early on the following morning. 

sanfoodie says:
I was eagerly waiting for these updates. Dear Nolan informed to check your blog and I immediately reached here. Nicely explained & expressed. Actually I too wanted to be with you guys but got the information on the eleventh hour. Hopefully See you all next time.
Posted on: Mar 13, 2017
TB_Weet says:
Please tell TB Nolan to be extra careful because a sprained foot can take up to 6 months to heal. I had a fall and it took really long to recover. Take care!
Posted on: Mar 12, 2017
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My tub-tuk transfer from the airpo…
My tub-tuk transfer from the airp…
Amys beautifully presented lunch …
Amy's beautifully presented lunch…
A tight squeeze for the 5 of us in…
A tight squeeze for the 5 of us i…
Angkor Wat in the evening
Angkor Wat in the evening
The beautiful sunset of Cambodia
The beautiful sunset of Cambodia
The group that went to see sunset …
The group that went to see sunset…
The kids trying to sell us the cut…
The kids trying to sell us the cu…
Flying over Cambodia
Flying over Cambodia
A local breakfast of coconut rice …
A local breakfast of coconut rice…
A breezy ride in the tub-tuk from …
A breezy ride in the tub-tuk from…
Transporting plants in a tub-tuk
Transporting plants in a tub-tuk
A foreigner with her son riding a …
A foreigner with her son riding a…
A bored boy on the motorbike :)
A bored boy on the motorbike :)
3 ladies riding a motorbike :)
3 ladies riding a motorbike :)
Nolan being well-taken care of by …
Nolan being well-taken care of by…
My lunch of pineapple fish at Amok…
My lunch of pineapple fish at Amo…
Haiza, Bhushan and Nolan on one si…
Haiza, Bhushan and Nolan on one s…
Me and Lee on the other side of th…
Me and Lee on the other side of t…
The drivers rushing to stabilise t…
The drivers rushing to stabilise …
The other tuk-tuk where Brett, Dig…
The other tuk-tuk where Brett, Di…
The beautiful building where the t…
The beautiful building where the …
Queuing for the ticket to the Angk…
Queuing for the ticket to the Ang…
My pass :)
My pass :)
Happy smiles after having gotten o…
Happy smiles after having gotten …
Snapshot of the traffic on the roa…
Snapshot of the traffic on the ro…
Snapshot of the traffic on the roa…
Snapshot of the traffic on the ro…
Snapshot of the traffic on the roa…
Snapshot of the traffic on the ro…
Snapshot of the traffic on the roa…
Snapshot of the traffic on the ro…
Reflection of the monks at Angkor …
Reflection of the monks at Angkor…
The reflection of Angkor Wat
The reflection of Angkor Wat
A local selling the bamboo glutino…
A local selling the bamboo glutin…
The tasty glutinous rice cooked wi…
The tasty glutinous rice cooked w…
The tasty glutinous rice cooked wi…
The tasty glutinous rice cooked w…
The sun setting between the trees
The sun setting between the trees
The setting sun
The setting sun
The fruit vendors around Angkor Wat
The fruit vendors around Angkor Wat
A vendor with her cut pineapples
A vendor with her cut pineapples
The nice decor at Moon Cuisine Res…
The nice decor at Moon Cuisine Re…
At Moon Cuisine Restaurant ... and…
At Moon Cuisine Restaurant ... an…
A wonderful evening of food and la…
A wonderful evening of food and l…
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling