October 2016: Siem Reap, Cambodia

After how poorly our time in KL went, I have to admit, I was not too optimistic about our next stop, Siem Reap. Yes, the Angkor temple ruins would probably be cool, but would we have the same problems as we had the place we just left?

Luckily, it turned out MUCH better than we anticipated. We stayed in a hostel and couldn’t really cook, but the meals were so cheap and we had so many close food options it didn’t matter. It also forced us to get out multiple times a day, even if it was just for a tiny walk to a restaurant, which helped with our moods considerably.

Siem Reap markets

Siem Reap markets

Annabelle got a chance to be around other kids a bit, and she even figured out how to crawl! It’s weird what counts as fun and excitement for parents.

Making friends.

Annabelle learned to drive before she could even crawl!

Siem Reap is a very interesting town, mostly geared toward tourists coming to see Angkor Wat, but it had an almost small-town feel to it. We’d wander little nearly-empty streets during the day, then head back to our place in the evening, just as the night markets started opening and everything got crowded and busy.

A dance show put on by the local kids

We saw a crazy big Buddhist temple, checked out a vendor selling spiders, snakes, and scorpions, and cockroaches on kabobs, and ate at a close-enough-to-Mexican restaurant.

Street Food: Snakes!

Street Food: Spiders!

Street Food: Cockroaches!

Street Food: Scorpions!

(Tiny thumbnails to hopefully avoid triggering anyone; click to enlarge.)

There was more delicious street food, of course. Like weirdly thin shavings of ice cream!

Street ice cream. Yum!

We also saw a cool government sponsored artist workspace.

Ali checks out some locally made art.

And we took a gemology class and learned how to differentiate various gems and about how they are formed and such. We even got certificates they printed for us in color!

Ali spots synthetic fakes under the magnifying glass.

Passed our pass/pass (as opposed to pass/fail) class! Whoo!

And there was cool temples to explore.

Exploring other cultures is the best!

So pretty!

Who wouldn’t want this gory scene in their religious temple?

But the big draw of the area was, of course, the Angkor ruins.


One warm sunny morning we hopped into a tuk-tuk with our guide for the day and head out to the ruins of the Khmer empire, which are situated a few miles north of Siem Reap. The guide told us about the history of the temples and the empire, while also pointing out the best places to get photos and the carving that looks like a dinosaur (which is apparently a big deal in some debates about how long ago dinosaurs really lived).

Tuk-tuking to the temples

We visited the temples Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Promh (the tree-covered “Tomb Raider” temple). Each had its own cool history and unique style, and it was fun to learn about them and try to picture this old civilization filled with people back when it was home to a thriving empire.

It was a very memorable experience. Make sure you click on the thumbnails below to enlarge and check out the awesome Angkor temples!

We very much enjoyed Siem Reap, even if it was a bit touristy, and were looking forward to our next destination in Cambodia: Phnom Penh.

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