Our hotel was about only about 6 miles from the airport but we had the world’s slowest tuk-tuk driver! One thing that I really like so far here in Cambodia is that there is a separate divided lane for tuk-tuks and motorcycles and scooters. Cars have their own lanes. It doesn’t stop cycles and tuk-tuks from driving the wrong direction down the lane, but at least if there is a collision it wouldn’t be as serious as if it were tuk-tuk vs. car. Immediately it was clear that life moves at a slower pace here in Siem Reap than in Bangkok. The people that passed us would smile and wave. We passed by multiple large resorts on the main road; they are located near the turn-off for Angkor Wat.
Our hotel is called the Apsara Residence Hotel and it is located across the river from old town (an excellent location). Upon arrival we were greeted with iced tea and cold washcloths to cool off with after the drive from the airport. Then, we were given stick of sweet sticky rice (warm) as a welcome snack. We were given lots of helpful local information by the woman that checked us in, as well as discount coupons for the spa and on-site restaurant. Soon, we were led up to our room and it is beautiful! We splurged on a suite again (hotels are so much cheaper here).
After unpacking we walked in to the old town area (only about 5 minutes from the hotel). There are tuk-tuks everywhere here, and they all want to offer you a ride. One thing that I noticed immediately is that the people speak English so much better than in Bangkok. The tuk-tuk drivers are not pushy at all; you can just wave them off and they leave you alone. I love how everyone calls me, “madame.”
We passed by a fish pedicure place (I will be getting one for sure before we leave) and multiple massage places. We wanted to get massages and had researched local spas. But, before getting our massages, we decided to have lunch. We ate at a restaurant called Soup Dragon. They had a very broad menu; multiple varieties of Asian foods and also some western foods. Clayton had sweet & sour pork; I opted for a banh mi sandwich and some Vietnamese spring rolls. They also had 2 for 1 beer, so Clayton indulged in a couple of beers. I am not a beer drinker so stuck with water.
We headed down Pub Street looking for the Lemongrass Garden Spa. There are cheaper places for a massage but this one had a nice balance of good reviews and cleanliness. We opted for the one-hour full body oil massage. We were given cold iced tea to drink when we arrived. After the massage we were given hot tea. What can I say except that it was pure bliss from start to finish? We will most likely return after our visit to Angkor Wat.
We walked around for a bit and took some pictures. There is a beautiful temple (Wat Preah Prom Rath) located on the edge of the old town area, along the river. As we walked along the river back towards our hotel, we could hear monks chanting. Just like Thailand, it is very hot here so we headed back to our room to relax and cool off.
For dinner, we headed back across the river to Pub Street for dinner. We walked through a bustling market and ended up on Pub Street. The sun was just starting to set and the street was lit up and full of tourists. We had spied a restaurant that advertised many crocodile meat dishes earlier in the day. We weren’t interested in crocodile meat but they had nice comfy chairs that faced the street and a broad menu, so we decided to eat there (The Temple). I wanted to try a traditional Khmer dish so opted for Chicken Amok (pronounced ah-moke). What can I say other than it was absolutely delicious! I wasn’t sure if Cambodian food would be spicy like Thai food but it was not. It was a curry-like dish with a coconut milk base and the flavors of lemongrass, galangal and turmeric. There was some type of shredded vegetable (similar to spinach) in it and it was served with rice. Incredible.
One thing I noticed here is that there were many more beggars than in Bangkok. Many of them had limbs missing or limb deformities. I will write more about that in my post about Angkor Wat.
After dinner we wandered around the area. At the entrance to the night market was a place to get a fish pedicure. It was only $3 so I had to indulge myself. They had three tanks of varying size fish. I started with the smaller ones (boy did those fish tickle my feet!) and eventually moved to the larger one. After a while you get used to the sensation of fish nibbling at your feet and it feels pretty relaxing. We walked back to our hotel; we needed to be up early the next day for our tour of Angkor Wat.