backpacking

Backpacking 2009: Siem Reap

Fascinated by tales of ancient cities and civilizations, I packed my bags and together with three other girls started a journey to the ancient world. I learned that no matter how great a kingdom or civilization was, there was no such thing as forever. The ancient Khmer empire once ruled the entire Mekong valley from its capital Angkor. It was destroyed and forgotten until the site was rediscovered in 1860.

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The trip from Poipet to Siem Reap was fun thanks to our driver/tour guide, Mr. Hak, who was eager to answer all our questions about the city. We reached Siem Reap before dark and decided to go to the floating village in Tonle Sap, a famous lake in Cambodia. It was a bad decision because before we knew it, it was already dark. I was so scared because we can barely see anything and we were in the middle of a lake!

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After returning to land alive, we asked Mr. Hak to drop us near Pub Street. We ate, explored the area and bought some stuff in the night market before returning to our guest house and called it a day.

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We woke up early the next morning to eat breakfast. It was free. We then went back to our room to prepare for the much-anticipated adventure that day. After a short drive, we queued to get our one day pass worth $20 each. The first stop was Angkor Wat, one of the places I wanted to see. I was glad to visit it finally.

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The next stop was Angkor Thom, the last capital of Khmer empire. It was in Bayon style.

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We also stopped shortly to take a photo of Ta Keo, the state temple of Jayavarman V.

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Our next destination was Tah Phrom where some scenes in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider were filmed. Trees growing out of the ruins made it popular to visitors. We walked for quite some time before reaching the famous spot.

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We visited another ancient temple but I forgot its name. We drove back to our guest house after spending some time there. The whole Siem Reap experience was truly memorable. I would like to thank Mr. Kunn and his wife for our great stay at Jasmine Lodge.

Backpacking 2009: Road to Poipet

Overland travel from Thailand to Cambodia took more than five hours. We took the earliest train that departed from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station. The train arrived past 7 o’clock in the morning at Lat Krabang train station, which was the nearest station from where we stayed. We just paid 40 baht for the fare to Aranyaprathet, which was a few kilometers from the Cambodian border town of Poipet. The train that traveled to the border had wooden seats. I thought it would be uncomfortable but I was proven wrong. The green scenery was a sight to behold and the cool breeze blowing in through the open window made it a wonderful journey.

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There was a long queue in the immigration, but after an hour we found ourselves walking down the street toward the Cambodian frontier. It was too hot and we were carrying heavy backpacks. After our passports were stamped, we walked toward the bus station where we waited for our ride to Siem Reap. Good thing my Thai sim card still worked in Poipet and I was able to contact the owner of the lodge who arranged our ride from Poipet to Siem Reap.

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There was a slight problem. We were not able to contact the driver of the taxi so we decided to go to another bus station where there was a money changer. The ride was free for tourists and it only took less than 10 minutes. After getting our riel, we saw someone holding a paper with my name on it. His name was Mr. Hak, the driver.

We found out later that it was better to use US dollars in Cambodia than riel. If you want to know what we did on our way to Siem Reap, check out this blog entry.