This is the second blog in a two part photoblog series. Read the first one here. It was all about the beaches and mountains that Cambodia has to offer. 😄
We left Koh Rong Samloem after spending seven days in bliss on the paradise island. I would have loved to stay longer but we had an interesting appointment to keep. Papa and Chachu were coming to Phnom Penh to join us for a short duration of our travel. This was an experiment that we had planned. We wanted to take the “dads” separately from the “moms”. Parul’s father had to cancel at the last moment because of an emergency but the others were game and so were we!
Meeting the Dads
Parul and I took a bus to Phnom Penh and checked into the guesthouse. We went to pick up Papa and Chachu from the airport the next morning. This led us to trying out the new Phnom Penh public bus service. I found it quite convenient and rather interesting. While hiring a tuk-tuk or a cab is not all that expensive in Cambodia, local transport has it’s own charms.
There are these new apps that allow you to book autorickshaws and tuk-tuks in many major cities of the country. Very cool and very convenient. We used PassApp and can highly recommend it.
The biggest challenge was to identify what the dads would enjoy doing. We tried everything we could think of. The biggest hit, of course, was food, drinks and chopstick lessons. 😂
We walked around the streets of the city and saw some pagodas nearby. Phnom Penh is an interesting mix or culture and modernism. While there are quite a few new high rises and malls but the traditional roadside shops and food carts persist. If you are okay with the weather, it is a very walkable city as well.
There were quite a few interesting episodes during our walk around town with Papa and Chachu. During one such walk, Papa started talking to a kid who was carrying a shoe. He somehow convinced the child (they were speaking different languages) to give him the shoe. The kid then proceeded to get all the belongings of his family from a nearby tuk-tuk and pile it in front of Papa. Chachu was clicking photos all this while. Parul and I were standing in a corner amused and afraid of how the parents would react. After a while someone did come looking for the kid and frowned at the mess. We got away as innocent tourists. 😂
Another highlight of the trip was the Apsara Dance. Cambodian Living Arts perform the dance at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. I had missed this the last time I was in Phnom Penh. I had discarded it as yet another touristy thing but it proved to be quite a treat. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think the others liked it as well. Chachu had a gala time shooting the entire performance on his camera.
On our last morning in town we went walking around the Royal Palace. This was the touristy one. We walked around the area and I indulged in some more photography. There were some murals on the walls around the pagodas that we identified as scenes of Ramayana (Reamker in this part of the world).
Parul went to see the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum while we were ambling around the palace. We caught up later and she seemed as much shaken as I had been the time I went there. That place is just too overwhelming. 😣
Back to Siem Reap
From Phnom Penh we spent a day in transit to Siem Reap. We had upgraded our accomodation standards for the duration that the dads were with us. We realised that one can have a ball in Camobodia without hurting the bank. 😆
Pub Street Night
The first night we hit the Pub Street to give the dads a taste of what our travels were like. I think they had some fun.
The next morning we headed to the Angkor temples, the most famous thing to do in Siem Reap. There was the early morning rush to be at Angkor Wat for sunrise. While I had done this before and was not a fan, I let the others decide for themselves. We ended up leaving Angkor Wat before the sun was up and caught it rising on our way out. A much more peaceful way to see the sunrise in my opinion. 😂
We headed to Angkor Thom, thinking that we might be able to enjoy some temples while the crowd was still at Angkor Wat.
We went to Baphuon first. This is one of my favourite temples in the Angkor Thom area. There is a special aura that the forest and lack of tourists lends to such historical sites.
Papa decided to sit it out after the first few flights of steps. To each his own! 😄
Next up was the famed Bayon.
Although I love this site as well, the gazillion tourists here make the site a rather rushed experience.
But it’s a fun place to click photos. 😛
We broke at Thommanon next for a few more pictures.
Then we headed to Ta Keo, the mountain temple. This one is an imposing structure and extremely aptly named. While Papa decided to sit this one out and enjoy it from the base of the temple, Chachu surprised us all by hiking all the way up to the top! That is no minor feat!
We wrapped up Ta Prohm fast enough since every one had gotten hungry and we were not really enjoying being stuck in the long queue of visitors.
After lunch we went back to Angkor Wat to explore the temple. The crowd had thinned since morning and the lighting was much better to enjoy the temple.
It had gotten really hot though. So we grabbed some coconuts before calling it a day.
We went to Georges that evening for dinner. It was some excellent French cuisine and local rum. We enjoyed both a lot, the latter more than the former. 😋
The next morning we bid Papa and Chachu goodbye. They would return to Phnom Penh to catch a flight out of Cambodia.
We stuck around in Siem Reap for another day to plan our travel ahead. We visited a dog cafe (❤️) and satisfied some cravings. 😛
Our next, and final, destination in Cambodia was to be Prasat Preah Vihear. Once again, there is no easy way to get here but that made this temple all the more beautiful. The morning after we reached the town of Sra’aem, we hiked to the temple. I was looking forward to it once again because the last time had been magical.
Preah Vihear is a personal favourite of all the temples I have been to anywhere in the world. To start with, the climb of 2243 steps exhausts you out of your mind and it is in this state that you can feel the divinity of the temple. The vistas and the ruins of the temple look much better once you reach the top gasping for air. The lack of tourists and the few locals only add to the “authenticity” of the experience.
After a few hours on the top, we took a couple of motos back to the town.
We headed out of the country over the next couple of days. We crossed the border over to Laos and spent some lazy days in Don Det before heading northward into the country.