Monday, March 09, 2009

CAMBODIA AND ANGKOR WAT

One of my favorite places to visit is Cambodia. I guess everyone knows of my archaeological interests from all my previous blog posts. In the latter half of 2006, I had visited Siem Reap, cambodia (famous for Angkor Wat and hundreds of other Angkorean temples and cities) for a long holiday and blogged about the trip in three parts. You can find that here titled "Siem Reap, Cambodia" and second part titled "More of the Angkor Kingdom" and last part titled "Siem Reap Trip Ends". Click on each of them to be directed to the blog posts. Now, in the year 2009, I made a short return visit to Siem Reap. Last week to be precise! I had guests who'd never been to Siem Reap before. My previous posts have plenty of still pictures.

video
(Here above is a vdo clip of the inner courtyard of Angkor Wat now. They are doing a lot of restoration works in the Angkor Wat complex currently, being funded by foreign governments, saw a banner mentioning German Government aid for these works)

Information contained in my 2006 blogs on Cambodia is still relevant today because the details provided in them are still current. Almost nothing has changed except that many more hotels, shops and restaurants have sprung up. Tuk Tuk's (carriage pulled by a moped) still costs $2 anywhere in Siem Reap town and food is still cheap. Hotels are cheap as well, tourism is down like everywhere else. Very attractive for those looking for an interesting and adventurous holiday. This time I stayed at a slightly upmarket boutique hotel called the Victoria Angkor, rates being so affordable these days.
Terms of entry into the country are the same. E-Visa can be obtained online here and having that ensures that you spend very little time in line filling up on-arrival visa forms, paying fees and then having to standing in line at Immigration. E-visa is the fast track way of getting in.

video

(Above is a short vdo clip of a ride through Siem Reap town, taken from my Tuk Tuk moped-carriage. This is the central park area and houses the King's Palace which is not an extra ordinary building anyway)

This time I went in March, hot season actually and predictably muggy. It's all worth it at the end of the day. So, if you are remotely interested in history or archaeology, this would be the place to put on the top of your "must visit" list. I found a group who had just come to visit those temples where Angelina Jolie starred movie "Lara Croft Tomb Raider" was shot.

video
(Above is a vdo clip of the Bayon Temple complex, a part of it, taken from the upper-inner courtyard)

Backpackers hang around Cambodia because things are really cheap, there are loads of things to do on a lean budget. You'd find masses of whites on bicycles all around towns and the temple complexes. During my last visit to Siem Reap, I had described and photographed Pub Street, a common watering hole for many foreigners and expats living in Siem Reap. Pub street has expanded, the lanes and by lanes that feed pub street have improved a lot, adding many new restaurants and bars, all reasonably priced and wonderful street side ambiance.

(Doesn't the Mok look good?)

After a hard day of exploring, this would be a perfect place to chill out. Read my previous Cambodia blogs for details of Pub street and the food available there but one thing I'd strongly recommend is to try the Seafood Mok which is a seafood curry in young coconut. Usually served with rice, this is a complete meal, delicious and available everywhere. There are places where one can find the vegetarian versions of the same or sweet talk the waiter to get the chef to put in veggies instead of the seafood.

video

Here's a short vdo of one part of pub street at night ending with a shot of an Indian restaurant offering Kabab dinner.