Cambodia might be one of the poorest countries in the world but it’s tourism and history is one of the richest and it’s splendid. For more than 600 years, the Khmer Empire dominated Southeast Asia, ruling over much of what is now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. (‘Khmer’ refers to the dominant ethnic group in modern and ancient Cambodia) However, a large series of migrations of Thai people in the 13th and 14th Centuries accelerated the downfall of the Khmer Empire, culminating in the Ayyutthaya kingdom’s seizure of Angkor in 1431. The remnants of the Khmer people migrated, with the capital moving to Phnom Penh; and eventually the empire faded away, absorbed by newcomers.

AngKor Watt [Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
AngKor Watt’s view
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

In my trip to Cambodia this summer, I realised that behind this once a powerful state lies a heart-breaking history. Cambodia is flourishing in many ways, especially in their rapidly growing tourism industry, however even today, you’ll see people with missing limbs in the streets – a very real effect of the millions of landmines that were planted in the country’s rural area. The country has been ravaged by Khmer Rouge regime, a brutal regime, in power from 1975-1979, that wiped out nearly two-fifths of the country’s population with the idea to reshape Cambodia back to the Middle Ages, with the hopes of creating a communist-style, agricultural utopia.

Sunset @ Siem Reap. The view while riding the Quad Bike. [Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
Sunset @ Siem Reap. The view while riding the Quad Bike.
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

Today, Cambodia is politically firm, but some of the citizens remain poor and unable to provide their everyday needs. However, I realised from the trip that people almost seem to ignore their country’s painful past and are unexplainably joyful and welcoming. And despite the poverty, they are contented, they are proud of their strong cultural heritage and yes! They are thankful of receiving more than five million of tourist yearly, helping them in their economy.

Enough of the history, let’s see where I chose to go for my short getaway!

1st destination is definitely the place I’m going to stay, and I had to say I was overwhelmed by their hospitality and friendliness! So, if you are planning for a trip to Siem Reap, you can consider staying at Popular Residence Hotel.

P.s. They offer complementary shuttle services to and fro the city and airport via Tuk Tuk, and it’s really a ++ point. It looks like the below and it’s actually quite comfy!

Cambodia style Tuk Tuk [Photo credit: google.com]
Cambodia style Tuk Tuk
[Photo credit: google.com
hotel refreshment food
Refreshment by Hotel
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

After settling down at the hotel, it’s time to explore the night markets!

Most of the night markets in Siem Reap are actually within walking distance from one another!

To be honest, there is nothing much to shop at the night market but more of experiencing their local culture.

Art Center Night Market
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
Sale of dried goods @ Angkor Night Market  [Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
Sale of dried goods @ Angkor Night Market
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

Just a couple of blocks from Angkor Night Market lies Pub Street.

Pub street
Pub Street
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

As the name suggests, Pub Street is a short alley flanked by clubs, bars, and restaurants, offering a wide variety of culinary treats from Khmer specialties to Western favourites.

Khmer Red Curry and fish amok!
My first meal trying out Khmer red curry and fisk amok!
It is yummy, espcially the fish amok!
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
Drink from the Angkor What? BarWhat? Bar
Drink from the Angkor What? Bar
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

And so, we ended our first day at the Angkor What? Bar, the oldest bar at Pub Street before heading back to hotel as we have arranged for a sunrise tour to Angkor Wat tomorrow.

It’s highly recommended to hire a private driver for the Angkor Temple tour. It doesn’t cost you a bomb and yet you have the flexibility to plan your route at your own pace!

So, this is my choice of the itinerary for Day 2:

1. Angkor Wat Temple (Sunrise)
2. Bayon Temple (Smiling Faces)
3. Ta Prohm Temple (Tomb Raider)
4. Floating Market
5. Quad Bike

Angkor Wat Temple (Sunrise)

First ray of sun from Angkor Watt  [Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
The first ray of sun @ Angkor Watt
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
This whole temple is huge! [Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
This whole temple is huge!
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

Bayon Temple (Smiling Faces)

Can you see the smile?
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
See my smiling face 🙂
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

Bayon Temple. This is my favourite. There are hundreds of cheeky smiling Buddha faces built all around the temple facing all four sides!

Ta Prohm Temple (Tomb Raider)

Ta Prohm Temple
Ta Prohm Temple
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
Everyday life @ Siem Reap. The view while riding the Quad Bike. [Photo credit: Dorine Tan]
Everyday life @ Siem Reap.
The view while riding the Quad Bike.
[Photo credit: Dorine Tan]

So, we ended our short trip to Siem Reap!
Will I go again? Not likely, but then again, it’s a bucket list item that I would go at least once in a lifetime!

I shall end off with Khmer 101 to prep you for your next trip:

Khmer 101
Khmer 101
[Photo credit: Khmer 101]

Source about Cambodia and Khmer Empire*:

1. Khmer Empire
2. History of Angkor
3. Ancient Khmer Empire
4. Khmer Rouge


This article was brought to you by Dorine Tan who is passionate for healthcare related matters and more than that, she is
adventurous in her travelling bucket list. 

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