My column dated 16th Dec’16 ( http://newsnviews.online/news-n-views/history-carved-on-stones-angkor-wat/ ), was a sneak preview of the history of magnificent Angkor. Carved in stones and sand , it has besotted many a wanderer over the years
My interest in Angkor started in school and over the years got nuanced as I read through literature , journals , travelogues of this great Khmer civilisation. I grew older with a deep desire to explore the civilisation which is indeed an outreach of my own land and my people
October 23rd 2016, I boarded the flight to the land of Suryavarman the great. There was a stopover in Bangkok , which I didn’t mind , it was another visit to the Kingdom of Smiles 24th morning I landed in Siem Reap, a small but beautiful airport, neat and well kept.
The moment you land there you can actually feel Angkor architecture, be it the airport or the small temples, street crossings you cross on your way when you come out of the airport. My companion on this trip was my long time friend who gave me the courage to take this journey when everyone else discouraged me because of certain health issues that I have been dealing with.
From the airport to our hotel was approximately 40 minutes ride on a tuktuk. All along our way we crossed paddy fields, thatched roof huts, small temples to big fancy hotels and malls. Tuktuk ride was quite an experience and the best way to enjoy a city I would say.
After reaching our hotel I was so excited that if possible I would have gone straight to Angkor Temple, but then there was a lot to sort before the visit, like entry passes etc. There are three kinds of passes available, one day, three days and seven days. since it was five day trip of ours we opted for a three day pass, and it started from the next morning, hence we decided to explore the city of Siem Reap and old markets.
Siem Reap city is set along the Siem river, while on one side of the river you can see the old buildings mostly colonial style, the other side of the river is the modern part with malls and theatres, both connected by small bridges. Theres no public transport within the city of Siem Reap and you have to either hire a taxi or a tuktuk, latter being the most commonly used mode of transport. For a little more adventure, you can also opt for bicycles on hire. We decided to stick to the Remork or tuktuk and headed towards the Old Market or Psah Chas.
Siem Reap is not just the old fashioned town of temple ruins, its tourist friendly feature offers amazing food, night life and a wide variety of Cambodian art to choose from as souvenir. Psar Chas or the old market is on the West Bank of Siem river, and is equally crowded throughout the day till late evening. The most fascinating thing for a foodie like me was the “wet section” of old market; its placed right next to the food court and you can actually pick what you would like the chef to cook for you. If you are looking for a souvenir shopping and sampling local food, all under the same roof, then Old Market is the place to visit. After having stuffed ourselves with Cambodian soup and noodles, we decide to experience the famous “Pub Street” of Siem Reap.
A short walk from old night market and you reach the famous Pub Street of Siem Reap. Amidst thin drizzles the neon lights looked even more brighter. It was a riot of colours all around, with music blaring from every food joint and restaurant on both the side of the street. And then there was also the Live Band.
Pub Street is noisy, crowded with tourists and lights might seem little tacky no doubt but the feel is quite electrifying I must say. Its THE ideal place for backpackers to unwind after a long day of walking amidst temple ruins, and then there are the foot massage centres too, for those tired feet of yours.
After spending a good couple of hours we decided to call the day as we had an early start the next morning towards Angkor Wat. Thus ended my first day in the land of Khmer.
… To be continued !!