In travel, you mostly only hear about amazing sights or thrilling activities. But I assure you – our everyday is not that glamorous! A Day in the Life is where I capture the small moments that make up a typical day and give you a peek at what life really looks like in pictorial snippets, as well as some of my recommendations and idea for cost.
In Siem Reap, we wake up late in the mornings after several good decent hours of sleep, but still with a tiredness that just refuses to go away. Despite the wooden blinds that block out the sun and the solid curtains, it’s impossible to get a good night’s sleep here.
It’s because of the damn chickens next door. I swear I’m about to commit a mass fowl homicide.
Let’s rewind a bit: it was late at night and dark when we arrived in Siem Reap. On our very first night, we crawled into bed looking forward to a long good nights sleep. That lasted approximately… 5 hours, when the next morning, practically before the crack of dawn, we were awoken by a rooster crowing. We opened the window to face, in horror, a yard with not one, but DOZENS of roosters. After that, we quickly learned that it’s a myth that roosters only crow at dawn. If so, then these roosters have a severely broken internal clock.
But even with the unfortunate placement of being right next to a yard of roosters, we love our Airbnb rental. We’re renting one room inside a gorgeous villa owned by a Cambodian family. It’s located a bit further from the bustling town center, and provides a peaceful retreat from the rowdy bars.
And the best part? They have three dogs! It’s so nice to have dogs to play with once again!
Because it’s away from the town center, we need to ride a tuk-tuk into town. For a ride, there is only one person to call.
Sah-buah (I’m probably totally butchering the phonetic spelling) is one of the drivers for our villa. We got to know him when we spent three full days with him while he shuttled us around to different temples. He’s 37, hard working, and always has a smile on his face.
“Hel-lo! Anh-na!” he answers the phone in that loud laughing voice of his. To this day, we both claim that he thinks our own name is Anna. He does this no matter which one of us is calling.
Five minutes later, he’s outside. Here’s a tip for you: if you’re staying for longer, the best thing to do is to find a tuk-tuk driver you trust, get his number and call whenever you need to go somewhere. Sah-buah already knows where we live and we feel happy supporting his business.
For lunch, we ride to a little restaurant just out of the town center. We were first introduced to this eatery during the Siem Reap food tour we took on our 2nd night here (full post coming soon!) . The food was so delicious that we’ve since dubbed it “our restaurant” (as in, “wanna go to our restaurant today?”) and we’ve been back on a regular basis.
We sit at the table. A horde of persistent flies buzz around us and we continuously swap them away. This is a very local joint and unfortunately, eating here means having to battle flies. But the food is the best out of all the places we’ve tried and at the most affordable prices. We feast on rice, prahak, lok-lak, and leek flowers with pork.
Because it costs us $4 in transportation to get to and back from town, we like to make the most out of it… meaning that it’s now time for an extended afternoon tea/dessert break. There’s only one place to go: Glasshouse at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
Glasshouse is posh, cherry little cafe/bakery that looks extremely out of place in rural Siem Reap, but would fit right in in Paris. I mean, it’s attached to a luxury 5-star hotel where rooms get upwards of US$500 a night (we looked). But what I love about it (aside from the giant cookies they make) is that even though we wander in with our fatigued faces and same clothes everyday, the staff still treats us like royalty. For a couple of hours, we make ourselves comfortable in Glasshouse, working on our phones. Hey, this girl needs a bit of luxury (and cookies) in her life every now and then. :)
Afterwards, we take the short walk into town. Siem Reap has only one town center where the main action happens. Sometimes, it seems like that there are more tourists in the town center than there are locals! Pub Street is crammed with dozens of bars and restaurants (and guesthouses on the upper levels). They look cute, but in all our time here, we’ve never eaten here because we’re afraid it’ll be the typical overpriced sub-par food.
But, one thing I do love: the fresh fruit shakes on the street carts. There’s one of these carts practically every few steps and I can’t resist the one dollar shakes! D doesn’t share this enthusiasm as he’s paranoid about the questionable ice.
With shake in hand, we aimlessly wander through the Old Market (or Psah Char), a maze of colorful stalls in the heart of the town center. There is a wet market section with fresh product, meat, fish, etc. for sale. Otherwise, it’s mostly a tourist souvenir market with each stall selling almost the exact same stuff. Nevertheless, it’s fun to just get lost in the aisles. I think Cambodia produces some of the best handicrafts and even D, who usually has zero patience stuff like this, likes browsing the stalls!
Afterwards, we ride back to our villa. We return to a cleaned room and fresh flowers on the bed. Everyday, the owners cut fresh flowers from their garden and lovingly place them on their guests’ beds. Best welcome ever!
The weather in Siem Reap is beautiful in December. The days are warm and breezy and we take advantage of this by taking our laptops out to the large patio to work.
When we get hungry again, we head back out for dinner. Because we already took an excursion into town earlier, we stay close for dinner. There are not a lot of food places within walking distance from our villa, so we really only have three options: the pho restaurant down the street, the street noodle stall next to it, or the Khmer BBQ stand across the street. Tonight, we choose the BBQ.
With the day considered over for us, we do a quick review of our spendings. The total for today: US$34. Hmmm… I’ve noticed that Cambodia isn’t the cheapest country for eating (not when compared to their Thai neighbors), but this is still kinda high. Those Glasshouse splurges are really killing our budget.
The rest of the evening passes uneventfully as we both work on our laptops, this time inside our room. But progress is slow as my head is cloudy with exhaustion and my body feels sluggish. These restless nights are catching up with me.
When we finally turn off the lights, pull up the covers, and drift off into dreamland…. what do you know, there goes those damn roosters again.
Have you been to Siem Reap? What did you like the most about the city?
This post is linked up to Travel Tuesday with adventurings.