July 26, 2013

Siem Reap, Cambodia - Part I

Siem Reap, Cambodia. 
What... a reality check. 

Although in the past few years Siem Reap has evolved into a full-fledged travel destination,
traces of a tumultuous history are hard to cover up. 
Driving through the tiny streets of the city center, 
our feelings were conflicted. 
The gorgeous five-star resorts encompass nearly every corner, 
yet if you make a wrong turn, you're immediately thrust into the actuality of what is life in this country. 
Shacks built on bamboo stilts, to prevent from flooding, families living off of pennies each day. 
But here is the amazing part - talking to the locals, you would never think anything was wrong. 
And maybe there isn't. 
The Khmer culture is one that I fell in love with almost instantly. 
I don't know if I've ever met kinder people. 
The whole experience made me reevaluate my priorities... reminded me to live in the moment. 
I would recommend anyone and everyone I know to visit Cambodia at least once in their lives. 
It's truly a beautiful country. 
Just to tell you a little bit about the logistics. 
To get to Siem Reap, we booked a three-day tour through Thailand Tours Center
Overall, it was a great experience. 
We had a private driver pick us up from our hotel in Bangkok early in the morning, 
and transfer us to the Poi Pet border. 
There, we met another guide who took us through immigration - 
a process that could have been super confusing, turned out be fairly seamless. 
From the Poi Pet border we were transported to our hotel in downtown Siem Reap via a private, air-conditioned vehicle. 

After checking-in and freshening up, 
we set out to explore the city. 
Our local guide gave us a lift to the Tonle Sap lake, 
where we boarded a long boat to explore the floating village. 
I was embarrassed to admit that I didn't know much about the lifestyle, or even the climate for that matter. 
We found out that during the winter time, deadly monsoons can wipe out the villages, 
killing hundreds of fishermen who go out for weeks in order to support their families. 
We stopped by an orphanage that houses all the local kids who have lost their parents due to these conditions. 
Again, an experience that made me appreciate the life we live, on so many levels. 

We spent the rest of the day walking around town,
stopping into tiny restaurants to enjoy local cuisine and beer. 
We tucked in pretty early that day, since the next morning called for a 4 a.m. wake up call. 
But more on that in my next post. 
Khmer Amok Curry - light fish, infused with coconut and lemongrass. So delish! 
Fried crickets anyone? You know we had to! When in Rome Siem Reap!
Mmmm freshly caught frogs for dinner!
Just kidding... good thing we saw this AFTER we already ate. 

natasha

3 comments:

Oleah Wuzhere said...

amazing photos & did that butterfly really land on your hand?

xoxo, Oleah
xthesimplethingsx.blogspot.com

BK Christy said...

That little boy has the prettiest eyes!!

xo, B&K
BKCsquared.com

lauren | eyes/ears/mouth+lens said...

I have so many of the same photos from my trip it's kind of frightening haha!