12 Tips for Visiting Siem Reap

  1. Bring US dollars if you have them. Don’t use Thai baht.

I was informed that Cambodia only accepts US dollars and Thai baht.  Cambodian currency is so weak that they’ve adopted the US dollar, so when you go to ATMs they spit out US currency, and everything is listed in dollars.  Some places do take Thai baht, but you lose money because they make up a conversion rate.  At one place, I was billed 50 baht to the dollar.  There are only about 35 baht in one dollar.  Also, sadly, it seemed like people in Cambodia aren’t very good at math.  Instead of multiplying 35 baht times 6 dollars, one poor girl took the 200 baht I gave her and divided it by 35.  That doesn’t work, and the language barrier made it impossible for me to explain the issue to her.

2. You CAN use Riel(Cambodian Currency), and CANNOT use coins.

I learned this the hard way.  A tuk-tuk driver charged my friend Nicole & I $3.50 for a ride on our first day in Siem Reap.  We were confused when he wouldn’t accept 50 cents in coins, and just walked away when he gestured to go inside the cafe we stopped at.  But then homeboy(with several 3-inch hairs sticking out of his mole) came in kicking & screaming 5 minutes later while yelling “crazy! crazy!” making a scene because we didn’t give him his 50 cents.

img_2960
Said perpetrator in the flesh.  Not pictured: his record-breaking mole hairs.

He was definitely being dramatic to try to pull more money out of us.  We didn’t know that you can use Cambodian Riel for change, so he wanted his Riel.  4000 riel = $1US, so 50 cents = 2000 riel.  It’s confusing; restaurants advertise 50 cent beers, but they don’t take coins.

To clarify – we paid $3 and 2000 Riel for the tuk-tuk ride.  You can combine your currencies.

I don’t know why so many blogs say they don’t take Riel, because they do.

3. Try pumpkin shakes.

I didn’t learn about these until the end of our trip, when our cooking class instructor told us about real Cambodian food.  When you’re in Siem Reap, you’ll see a million places selling a million different varieties of fruit shakes.  Even if you don’t see pumpkin listed on a shake menu, you can still ask for it.  They’re wildly popular with Cambodian people, so most restaurants that sell shakes have them.

4. Bargain for everything.

This one is probably obvious if you’ve traveled in this part of the world, but you can bargain for just about anything.  I’d say tuk-tuks are usually about half the price the tuk-tuk driver offers in Siem Reap, and I’d pay around $1.50-$2 for a 10-minute tuk-tuk drive.

5. Try to book a hotel or hostel that offers pick-up from the bus or train station.

IMG_3302.jpg

So many offer it for free, and that eliminates the hassle of bargaining with a tuk-tuk driver.  Bonus – my friend & I felt super VIP when we got the bus station and our driver was waiting for us with a sign that had our name on it.  Even though we were only paying $10/night for our accommodation.

6. Book accommodation that has a pool.

It’s super hot and dusty to walk around Cambodia during the day, and many hotels and hostels have pools accordingly.  It’s a nice break from walking around in the hot dust before hitting Pub Street at Night.  I LOVED the hostel we stayed at in Siem Reap, called Funky Flashpacker.  They have awesome staff and a great pool, along with a super social atmosphere.

7. Don’t do Angkor Wat hungover.

IMG_3015.jpg

My friend Nicole & I booked our Angkor Wat tour for December 26th, the morning after Christmas Day.  Seeing as we were away from home on Christmas, naturally we got super drunk and only spent about 2 hours sleeping in the nice hotel beds we had splurged on.  Our tuk-tuk came to pick us up at 4:30AM, and we were miserable for the next 6 hours.  Our tour was supposed to last until 2 and we only made it until 10:30.  Sitting in the back of a Cambodian tuk-tuk bouncing across unpaved roads when you’re hungover is miserable.  And as a result, our pictures are horrible as well – you can tell that we had a rough night the night before.

IMG_3043.jpg
Smile if you’re hungover.

8. Check the weather before you book your sunrise or sunset tour of Angkor Wat.

Granted I was too hungover to appreciate a decent sunrise anyways (see number 7), when Nicole & I went to Angkor Wat, it was still kind of cloudy.  The sunrise and sunset over the temple are what makes your pictures sparkle, check any travel Instagram.  It costs $20US for the tickets into Angkor Wat.  Twenty. US. DOLLARS.  Do you know how far that goes in Southeast Asia?!?!?!  That’s how much it costs to get onto the sky-deck at the Ceres Tower.  If you’re dropping that kinda dough on seeing Angkor Wat, make sure the sky will be beautiful.

IMG_3008.jpg
What a beautiful…sunrise?

9. If you’re in the 20+ club like me, stay at a social hostel for good nightlife.

I stayed at 2 different places in Siem Reap – one semi-nice boutique hotel, and one party hostel.  The party hostel was actually nicer than the hotel, and it had a better pool.

The nightlife in Siem Reap is okay.  It’s not great, and it doesn’t suck, but it’s not even comparable to other backpacker watering holes like Khao San Road when it comes to socializing. Surprisingly, the majority of young people I saw out on Pub Street were Cambodian.  It’s strange because that’s such a touristy part of town.  I’m all about socializing and hanging out with people of a different culture, but sometimes the language barrier makes it a bit difficult, especially when you’re a few Angkor beers deep.  Staying at a party hostel (like Funky Flashpacker mentioned above) is a good way to meet other people to party with.

IMG_2999.jpg

10. If you like drunk eats…

After hitting pub street, check out the $1 noodle stalls on the street that runs parallel to pub street along the river.  Nicole’s friend who taught in Cambodia recommended this to us, and she was right.  There’s a TON of $1 noodle stalls just waiting to fill your stomach with regret in the morning.

11. If you’re into vegan & health food like I am (ignore number 10)(& number 9 on that note), check out some of the cafes.

IMG_3418.jpg

Trendy cafes in Siem Reap?!  Cambodia has a surprising amount of trendy vegan and vegetarian cafes.  While in Siem Reap, Nicole & I went to this dope café called Vibe.  They had vegan cashew cheese, hummus, tempeh, and everything else your little healthy heart could desire.  I fell in love with tempeh in Indonesia(where it’s from), so I was pumped to find it somewhere else.

SiemReapStitch1.jpg

We also visited Peace Café, a trendy little outdoor café(where the tuk-tuk driver from number 1 came to scream at us), which I’d also recommend.  We didn’t eat there, but we did do a traditional Indian yoga class, which was awesome.  Everything that I saw other people eating looked mouth-watering, plus the set up is really cute.

IMG_2963.jpg

IMG_2962.jpg

12. Try Cambodian food OTHER than standard Fish Amok, Lemongrass Chicken, and Beef Lok Lak.

All of the above are amazing, don’t get me wrong.  But during a cooking class Nicole & I took, our instructor pointed out something very true – travelers often only are interested in trying food that they’ve heard other travelers talk about, rather than discovering new food for themselves.

SiemReapStitch2.jpg
Deceiving egg and butter thing on the upper right, and Beef Lok Lak on the bottom right.  I don’t know the name of the eggplant dish on the left , but if you see eggplant on a menu try it, SOOO good.

Nicole & I were adventurous one evening and wandered off into a super-local no-English-speaking-people-for-miles type of restaurant.  We just pointed to what someone else was eating, and it ended up being this really good turmeric & snail soup.  Not that this always works – we also ordered something else that everyone else was eating, and it turned out to be scrambled eggs with a giant pool of butter sitting on top.  But it was cool to try something different than what we had seen advertised on every touristy Cambodian restaurant in town.

SiemReapStitch4.jpg
Top picture turmeric soup, bottom standard Cambodian curry and Fish Amok.  Note – the salad pictured in the top picture was also a bust.  We thought we were getting a Cambodian version of papaya salad & instead we got something swimming in sugar and sauce.  Yuck.

There you have it.  11 tips for visiting Siem Reap.  If you have any questions for your trip feel free to comment/e-mail me!

Advertisements

Kiddies in Cambodia – Photo Blog

In case you couldn’t tell by my past 2 blogs, I really loved Cambodia.

Don’t get me wrong, my love for Thailand could write a freaking Taylor Swift album.  But something I liked about Cambodia in comparison with Thailand is that it seemed slightly less tainted with tourism.  There were less Western amenities, and people seemed to be less wary of tourists.

Thailand has a reputation across the world for being “The Land of Smiles.”  And it is, the people are extremely friendly.  However, after what I’ve seen in Southeast Asia so far, the entire continent should be christened The Land of Smiles.

Thailand is a trendy travel destination, and has been for a couple years now.  While Thai people are extremely friendly, in touristy areas I’ve found their slightly less towards tourists.  I theorize that since Cambodia became a tourist destination after Thailand, the people haven’t had enough time to become jaded about tourists yet.  And less tourists has brought less Western trends and influence to the country.

Cambodia was a breath of fresh air in that it seemed more authentic and less westernized.  There were no trendy malls, many of the roads in Siem Reap were still bumpy and unpaved, and the tuk-tuks felt like something out of the early 1900s.

That being said, I’m pretty happy with some of the pictures I got in Cambodia.  Maybe it’s only because I got to look at Cambodia with fresh eyes, whereas I’ve grown used to all the oddities and exotic-ness of Thailand.

So here are some of the pictures I got of people(mostly children, they’re the best models) in Cambodia.

IMG_3162.jpg

IMG_3461.jpg

img_3469

Stitch3.jpg

img_3260

These boys were my favorite.  Taken in Battambang at the bamboo train.

DSC_0860.jpg

DSC_0861.jpg

IMG_3460.jpg

IMG_3094.jpg

IMG_3107.jpg

img_3232

IMG_3470.jpg

IMG_3333.jpg

And last but not least, a picture that’s not the best from an angle standpoint, just a shout out to my last tuk-tuk driver out of Cambodia.  Thank you for not dumping me on the side of the road when I was yelling at you because I was still buzzed from the night before at 7:50AM when Nicole & I were on the verge of missing our bus home.

Note – all of these pictures were taken in and around Battambang, except for the last one of my tuk-tuk driver.

 

 

What’s Battambang?

IMG_3169.jpg

dsc_0873

Visiting Cambodia really felt like stepping back a decade or few in time, especially coming from trendy bumping Bangkok.  The carriage-like tuk-tuks, dusty roads, and use of the word “lady” by street vendors really make it feel like you’re in a different era.  This was especially prevalent in Battambang, aided by the old, crumbling colonial architecture.

IMG_3246.jpg

I mentioned Battambang to several other backpackers we met along the trail, and none of them seemed to have heard of it.  There’s not really much going on in the town, but there’s a lot to see in the little villages outside of the town.  Plus, the city has a bunch of quaint coffee shops to check out.

The vibe of Battambang is quiet, so my Cambodia travel buddy Nicole & I were pretty mellow.  Our first night we rolled in around 5PM, and we just walked around the tiny little night market.

Our second day in Battambang, we booked a tour of Battambang and the neighboring attractions via minivan for a whopping $8.

Bamboo Train

IMG_3098.jpg

I initially rolled my eyes at this stop.  We piled out of our van and were immediately swarmed by people trying to sell us things.  Then our tour guide for the day told us that we had to pay $5 if we wanted to ride the bamboo train for half an hour.  It was either awkwardly sit in the van and wait, or ride the train, so we of course rode the train.

IMG_3103.jpg

The driver was clearly not amused by our selfie-stick.

The train is literally just a tourist attraction.  It’s a little bamboo platform that you sit on which is operated by a Cambodian guy on the back.  At the end of the line you get off and wait for 20 minutes, where you’re swarmed with children who have surprisingly good English asking you to buy bracelets.  And of course, there is a wide selection of cheap boho-chic variations of dresses and skirts to choose from, along with elephant pants.

DSC_0864.jpg

DSC_0870.jpg

Before getting back on the little train after being dropped off to get milked for cash, one of the vendors whispered to Nicole and I “Please tip the driver.  The owner of the train is very corrupt and barely pays them anything.”  Sadly, this wasn’t the first time we were slyly hinted at to give someone or not give someone money.

Wat Banan

IMG_3119.jpg

BattambangStitch1.jpg

This was a temple (costing $2 to get into) that was SUPER old, and actually a little bit different to see.  It’s even older than Angkor Wat, as it was a prototype for Angkor Wat, and takes about 250 poorly-maintained stairs to view.  This was the most Indiana-Jones like experience I’ve had since getting to Asia.  The whole thing looks like its on the verge of toppling, and after viewing the maintenance (or lack-thereof) on the stairs to get to it, I’d say it won’t be around for tourists to see in a few years.

IMG_3142.jpg

 

IMG_3135.jpg

Prasat Phnom Winery

IMG_3164.jpg

This winery holds the coveted title of the ONLY winery in Cambodia.  And the wine was, shockingly, freaking terrible.  But of course, Nicole & I had to do a short wine sampling, because who doesn’t have wine tasting in Cambodia on their bucket list?  The tasting consisted of a horrible red wine, scarring brandy, manageable juice, and actually enjoyable ginger honey drink.

Tastes Like Chicken

When our guide told us first that our next stop was to go and eat rats, I thought he was joking.  But NOPE, our tour group went to a little shack on the side of the road to sample, you guessed it, rats.  Of course this was optional, but somehow Nicole & I talked each other into trying it.

IMG_3188.jpg

So 5 of us brave souls split a big rat for $1.25.  The scariest thing about seeing this little barbecued rodent was that I actually think I’ve seen it in the market in Dan Chang before.  When something is flayed open with the head, fur, and tail removed; you can’t really tell what it is.

BattambangStitch2.jpg

Review – the rat did indeed, taste like chicken.  Dark meat chicken.  It also came with a little sauce, classy.  Also horrifying – someone could easily slip this into fried rice and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and chicken.  Concerning.  But I survived, so the verdict is that meat is meat.

Facebook video proof here.  Worth watching just for our tour guides’ commentary.

Phnom Sampeau & the Killing Caves

Cambodia is littered with different memorials and creepy tourist stops from the not-so-long-ago Khmer Rouge.  Near Battambang is a cave where around 10,000 bodies were thrown, allegedly after being clubbed to death.

This particular attraction requires walking up a small hill.  There are dozens of motorcycle drivers at the bottom offering to take you up for a small fee, and unless you’re disabled they’re completely unnecessary.

Walking down into the caves literally feel like something out of a horror movie.  I don’t know if it’s because of the people that died there or because it’s a cave, but it’s deathly still, and there’s a reclining Buddha next to a small memorial full of skulls on one side of the cave.

After exiting the cave and walking a little higher up the hill, there’s another pretty temple.  This temple and other temples in Cambodia were different from what I’ve seen elsewhere in that they were Buddhist temples, but done in Hindu style.  So the temple complex featured Hindu gods, but still had Buddhist monks and shrines to Buddha.  And there’s monkeys, because there’s always freaking monkeys.

BattambangStitch4.jpg

IMG_3202.jpg

IMG_3340.jpg

DSC_0881.jpg

Bats

Our final attraction of the day was at the base of the hill of Phnom SAmpeau.  Every day at sunset, a neverending horde of bats flies out of the cave for the evening.  Our guide warned us not to sit under the path where the bats fly, as tourists get peed on all the time.

So there you have it.  Aside from Khmer cooking and finding a good coffee shop, that’s about all we did in Battambang.  But the vibe of the city was worth a visit.

IMG_3167.jpg

The “Golden Gate Bridge” of Battambang.  A 2-second stop, and the closest I’ve ever come in my life to actually being Indiana Jones.  Things get really interesting when motorbike drivers decide to drive across while you’re still crossing.  Just squeeze past me, I’ll only fall and die, it’s okay.

IMG_3171.jpg

IMG_3179.jpg

IMG_3182.jpg

Lunchtime viewssss on the lake.

Cooking in Battambang & Fish Amok

If it hasn’t become clear from any of my previous posts, I’m kind of a food nerd.  At home I’m always the friend who orders the weird item on the menu.  So Asia is kind of a dream come true for my taste buds.  Nicole, my traveling buddy for Cambodia, is as equally as nerdy as I am, so when we were in Battambang on her birthday we decided to take a cooking class.

FishAmokStitch3.jpg

The birthday girl, complete with her birthday cake that I busted into our hostel room with at 8AM.

We selected a restaurant called The Smoking Pot, as it was SUPER cheap ($10 for a 3-course meal that you get to choose!) and it was taught in the owner’s house, so it had a super authentic vibe to it.  Funny name – the owner actually said that he had more people come in to ask him about buying weed than taking cooking classes (DISCLAIMER: They don’t sell weed, it was just an unfortunate choice of cooking school name).

Around 9AM on that beautiful Tuesday morning, our chariot picked us up from our hostel.  And by chariot I mean little cart pulled by a motorcycle.  Cambodia is so quaint.

FishAmokStitch6.jpg

The chariot in question.

Our first stop was the local market.  I’m really kicking myself for not doing some kind of market tour earlier – it was like a whole new world.  While the markets in Cambodia were a little different from my home market in Dan Chang, our guide explained what SO many things were that I hadn’t been able to recognize.  I finally can pick out morning glory, I know now that what I’ve been buying ISN’T heart of palm but bamboo, and I know what turmeric looks like when it’s not ground up finely into a powder.

FishAmokStitch5.jpg

That morning glory doeeeeeee.

FishAmokStitch4.jpg

Market vibes.  Can you spot the massive tongue?(Sorry Asia has turned me into such a sick individual)

For our 3-course meal we decided to cook Khmer Fish Amok, Lemongrass chicken, and sweet potatoes in coconut milk for dessert.  Fish Amok is the national dish of Cambodia, and it’s one of the best curry dishes I’ve ever had.

We arrived at his house and was kind of a rural shack.  His mother was helping out with the cooking, cleaning, and prep; and his cats were scurrying around our feet.  He informed us that we wouldn’t be cooking with gas and electric, but only using traditional Khmer cooking methods.  Dope!

IMG_3265.jpg

IMG_3284.jpg

So here’s a recipe for Fish Amok curry.  Enjoy!

Fish Amok Curry

FishAmokStitch7.jpg

(Made for one person, most dishes in Thailand/Cambodia are cooked one serving at a time)

Ingredients

Snakehead Fish – 5 1-inch cubes

1 stalk lemongrass, minced

1 slice of Galangal root, no skin(it makes it bitter), minced

3-4 cloves of Garlic, no top/tail, remove skin

1-2 lady finger chilies, depending on your spice preferences, minced

1-2 slices tumeric root, minced

*2 cups coconut cream

2 straw mushrooms (oyster mushrooms if you don’t have them)

1.5 kaffeir lime leaves, no stem, minced

2 teaspoons fish sauce

Heaping teaspoon fresh palm sugar

Half a teaspoon salt

2 Banana leaves, cut into rectangles and folded into cups, for cooking (if you’re feeling festive)

FishAmokStitch9.jpg

Kittens playing around your feet and banana leaf cups, rustic AF.

*We actually made our coconut cream from scratch!  We took a scoop of shredded coconut and put it into a cheesecloth.  Then we simply rolled it like a piece of candy, squeezed, and out came coconut cream!  I also learned that the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is that coconut cream is more concentrated, whereas coconut milk is watered down a little bit.

To make the curry paste

Using a mortar and pestle, add the lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and turmeric.  Ground up finely, the paste should turn a yellow color.  Add the minced up chilies.  Pound some more.

FishAmokStitch8.jpg

On the right is actually a little stove that we used to cook lemon grass chicken.  Just toss as wok on top & go!

Add the curry paste to the coconut milk.  Cut the mushrooms into whatever size you like (halved for me), and add them as well.  Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, salt, and mix.

If you ever used fresh palm sugar you know it’s kind of paste-y.  Our instructor told us to pull it against the side of the bowl with the back of our spoons to mix it in, which was helpful.

Add the cubes of fish, pour into the banana leaf cups(or cooking dish) and put in a steamer.  We cooked ours in a traditional coal steamer for 30 minutes.  Since most of us westerners don’t just have one of those lying around, you also can throw it in a pan with some oil for 7 minutes.  Our instructor told us that method isn’t as good because the oil messes with the texture.

img_3280

 

Andddd voilá!  Fish Amok.  Plot twist – serve it with rice.

IMG_3278.jpg

Hey Walking Dollar Sign, Feel Bad for Me

At the end of our meal we sat down with our instructor while we ate.  Like I said, Nicole and I are food nerds, so we were chewing his ear off with a million different questions about Asian food/Cambodian food/local produce that we’ve never really had answered since we’ve been in Southeast Asia.

Then the conversation turned somewhere else – into yet another pity shpiel (spelling?) from our instructor.  I really did love Cambodia, but it seemed around every turn in tourist areas someone was trying to sell us some sob story, and they really loved throwing the word “corruption” around.

CambodiaStitch2.jpg

The left is the sweet potato coconut milk combo we made for desert, and the right is The Smoking Pot restaurant.

This ploy for pity was about how most tourists don’t really want to try Khmer food.  Most tourists who sign up for cooking classes at The Smoking Pot expect something that they don’t get, because “they don’t understand what true Khmer food is.”  He then said that people just want to eat what they hear of other travelers eating, like Fish Amok and Lemongrass chicken(oops), and that’s it.  He then mentioned how most restaurants serve spring rolls, fried rice, and fried noodles that aren’t truly Khmer, but only so they could keep their doors open by making tourists happy.  He said he didn’t serve those at his restaurants, but mostly sold Fish Amok.  After he mentioned it, I did realize that I had seen an insane amount of Thai food offered by restaurants in Cambodia.  Always a crowd pleaser.  Then he went on a rant about how unsafe overnight busses are, but that’s another post.

While I did agree with our instructor to some extent, I don’t think he understands how confusing it is trying to figure out local food by yourself.  Us travelers eat what we’ve seen other travelers eat because it’s what we’ve found in our research online.

All in all, despite the little pity ploy, it was a great cooking class, and I’d definitely recommend.

Christmas in Cambodia

Once again, sorry I’ve been MIA for so long.  Mom, you can stop not-so-subtly hinting to me to blog now.  I was lucky enough to have a couple weeks off for the holidays.  Between writing and grading Midterms and travel planning, blogging has definitely been on the back burner.

Speaking of the holidays, during our time off my friend Nicole & I decided to hit up Cambodia for Christmas.  Khmer-y Christmas to USSS (ba dum chhhhh).

Getting There

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the border….

CambodiaStitch1.jpg

Read any blog about crossing the border between Thailand and Cambodia & you’ll hear a thousand stories about getting scammed.  People try to charge you extra random “visa handling” fees, etc. to try and bamboozle you out of your money.  This seemed to be a recurring theme in Cambodia unfortunately, but more on that later.

To avoid headaches and confusion, Nicole & I opted to take Nattakan bus services, the only government-approved bus that can cross the border between Thailand and Cambodia.  This special title means that these little magic school busses can cross the border with your stuff on it, as in you don’t have to sweat carrying it across yourself.  This cost 750 baht when I picked it up from Bangkok’s Mochit bus station in person, and cost a little over 800 if you did it online.  We also did our e-visa online to avoid further time waiting in line/more headaches, which cost about $40US.

This was SO worth it.  Although a couple guys attempted to lead us in the wrong direction for “visa processing” we kept walking and went straight through immigration without a hiccup.  We were merrily sipping Angkor beers and sending Christmas snapchats to our home friends while waiting for the bus to leave in no time.

The bus even offered free tuk-tuk transport from the bus station in Siem Reap to your hotel, and included a free bag of breakfast goodies/fried rice lunch.  Classy, am I right?

Landing in Cambodia kind of felt like the Southeast-Asian version of what I imagine Cuba feels like.  The tuk-tuks were much different from their Thai cousins; they’re all bare motorbikes hauling carriage-esque cabs.

For Christmas we decided to treat ourselves a little and get a hotel for once.  With a pool, of course.  In Cambodia this meant spending 400 baht a night, as opposed to our usual 300 baht a night for a hostel in Thailand.  That’s about $12.  Nice for a boutique hotel, am I right?

Joy to the World

Christmas Eve Nicole & I were pretty lame, after spending all day on a bus we decided to grab one 50-cent beer on the infamous Pub Street for 5 minutes before going to bed.

IMG_2959.jpg

Christmas Eve dinner, featuring DANK Fish Amok curry and rice, because there’s ALWAYS rice.

IMG_2948.jpg

The night market in Siem Reap.

IMG_2955.jpg

Chrismtas Day was the opposite.  We opted to have a total high-so treat yoselffff kind of day.  This started with traditional Indian yoga at a trendy little café called Peace Café.  They offer Khmer language classes, yoga, and monk chats; definitely worth a stop if you’re in the Siem Reap area.  Our yoga class was different from any I’ve ever done, and super relaxing.  After that we headed off to the spa for 1-hour Khmer massages for a grand total of $8 each.

IMG_3065.jpg

Festive no-makeup tuk-tuk ride to yoga.  When I considered instagramming this one “We look tired.” -Nicole.  YUP.

IMG_2962.jpg

IMG_2963.jpg

Peace Café.

Did I mention they use American dollars in Cambodia?  Sad that their own currency is so weak that they’d rather adopt someone else’s.  However, they don’t accept coins, which I learned the hard way.  They do accept Riel as well as dollars in most places, which can act as 50 cent coins.

4000 Riel = 1 dollar

2000 Riel = 50 cents

100 baht = everyone makes up their own conversation rate so it’s not worth it to try

CambodiaStitch2.jpg

Christmas dinner featuring chicken satay, a REAL cocktail, and again, curry.

Pub Street

IMG_2988.jpg

IMG_2999.jpg

Then we headed off to dinner at some bougie classy restaurant, before hitting up Pub Street for a proper celebration.  Pub Street is kind of like the Cambodian version of Khao San road, except it’s much smaller and not as wild.  Suprisingly there were a lot of Cambodians out partying in the streets as well, while as on Khao San you don’t see many Thai people on Khao San.  I was expecting Pub Street to be mostly foreigners, and we were heavily outnumbered.

IMG_2976.jpg

$2 a bottle whiskey.  Recipe for disaster already.

Angkor Hot Mess

IMG_3047.jpg

Let’s all take a moment to laugh at how awful I look.  Whiskey + sunrise does NOT equal cute pics.

One of the fabulous perks of traveling long-term is that you become used to the concept of not really sleeping.  So Nicole & I didn’t bat an eyelash when our concierge told us that we would have to be up at 4:30AM for our tuk-tuk if we wanted to see sunrise at Angkor Wat on the 26th.  For once, we were wrong, and our bodies punished us severely for our blunder.

IMG_3030.jpg

I’ll admit it.  We messed up Angkor Wat, and I definitely think I need to go back.  We messed it up, and it costs 20 freaking US dollars for a day pass.  We forgot to factor in the bouncy tuk-tuk on questionable roads up to the temple when we booked this excursion(for about $12), and the heat that comes with being in Cambodia.  So it’s safe to say that when the sun rose we were a) dying and b) still turnt.  Cambodian people are some of the nicest I’ve ever met, more to be explained later, and our hotel had packed us breakfast boxes complete with toast and eggs for the morning to take with us.  I’d say our little picnic in front of Angkor Wat that morning saved our lives.

IMG_3015.jpg

IMG_3061.jpg

Angkor Wat isn’t just one temple either – Angkor Wat itself is, but the tuk-tuk tour includes all temples in the complex, including the infamous temple from tomb raider.  Our tuk-tuk driver was literally laughing at us at every temple where we told him no, we don’t want to get out and see more ruins, there were enough ruins going on in the cab of that tuk-tuk.  Lucky him, at around 10:30 we called it quits(after only actually getting out to see 3 temples) and went back to our hotel.  Our bus for our next destination didn’t leave until 1:30, and we had already checked out of our hotel rooms.  So Nicole & I were quite the sight to be seen, passed out sweaty, fully-clothed, and hungover by the pool.

Then 1:30 rolled around and we whisked ourselves off to Battambang.  Khmer-ry Christmas to all, and to all, a good, non-hungover night.