Angkor Wat Sunrise Photo Guide

Angkor Wat is one of the most incredible wonders of the world, and the “Angkor Wat Sunrise Photo” is practically an art in and of itself.

As a religious complex, it has few equals. As an amazing ancient site, it has no equals. The number of temples, the size of the temples, and the amount of detail all combine to make it an incredible place to visit!

Purple sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

When you’ve made the trek out to Cambodia, one thing is for sure – you want awesome photos of Angkor Wat. Especially Angkor Wat at sunrise. It can be tricky, but it’s definitely do-able! Read more

Spreadsheeting: How Much I Spent in Cambodia (Siem Reap)

Once upon a time, Cambodia was known as a hotspot for backpackers who wanted to do things cheaply. From food to guest houses and more, Cambodia always seemed to make the list of countries you could easily do for under $30/day. I do not think that is true any longer, especially in Siem Reap, and especially if you want to see Angkor Wat. You might be able to do it, but you’d have to make some rough sacrifices (like riding an actual bicycle, not an e-bike or tuk tuk to the temples).

I think one of the things that makes it expensive is that the currency used here is USD – the only time you’ll get Cambodian currency is for making change less than $1. When priced in USD, things end up getting more expensive – it’s easier for them to charge $1 for water or something because 1 is such a small number. But compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, that’s pretty pricey.

Overall, for five days and five nights in Siem Reap, I spent $577.21 USD.

How did that work out?

Airfare: $214.56
This was getting from Coron (a pretty small place) to Siem Reap, so it was a bit more expensive. I flew through Manila, and flew on Cebu Pacific.

Visa: $30.00
Americans need visas to get into Cambodia. It’s a super simple process when you get to the airport and then you can pay and go through immigration. Just don’t forget to bring $30 cash (exact change) and a passport photo (though if you don’t have one I think it’s easy to do there and just pay like $5 extra).

Accommodations: $141.80
This area was a bit of a splurge (lol), as I decided I would want to stay in a single room in a somewhat nicer hotel. I found a cute one that was under $30 per night, so stayed there. It wasn’t quite what I’d normally call a splurge, but it was compared to the dorms in the Philippines!

One thing I realized with this is that I do like hostels better than hotels. I think part of the reason I disliked Cambodia was that I didn’t meet anyone to experience it with – which I would have had I stayed in a hostel.

Transportation: $17.00
I didn’t spend much on transportation that wasn’t part of Angkor Wat activities. It was only the ride from the airport ($12) and the ride to get my ticket ($5). Though I’m still annoyed at myself for not doing a better job coordinating the airport pickup with the hotel so I didn’t spend that $12! (It’s funny how perspective changes when things are crazy cheap and when I’m publicly sharing details… At home I would never notice a wasted $12.)

Food: $42.85
I had a free breakfast at my hotel daily (and it was pretty good!) so that filled me up for most of the day and then I tended to have one big meal late in the afternoon. I was surprised how expensive the food here was. I wanted comfort food one night and so I ordered fish and chips and a western-style restaurant. Yes, western food is more expensive – but for fish and chips and two cans of Sprite, it was $9.25. I feel like that’s not too far off what I would pay at home.

I also spent money almost every day on buying what they call “fried ice cream” here – at home it’s the new “Thai-style rolled ice cream” but it’s delicious and frequently served as street food here. Still, a bowl of that is $2.50 and for the same level of basic rolled ice cream in the States it’s about $5.

Also, my food costs are much cheaper because I’m still not drinking alcohol. On the plus side, I haven’t had a crazy headache on the trip yet. (knocking on wood now…) Not sure if that’s the lack of alcohol or the lack of stress, but I’m not fiddling with it now that I’ve got a good thing going!

Activities: $113.00
Siem Reap is all about Angkor Wat – so I spent $62 on my three-day admission ticket and spent the rest on transportation around it. One day I went in a tuk-tuk, and the other two days I used an e-bike.

Miscellaneous: $12.00
At home I thought it was a great idea to buy an ultralight packable daypack and use that for during the day and then only have my main backpack to use between cities. I did not think that one through all the way. The ultralight backpack ended up being my flight carry-on, and it was not made for a laptop, laptop charger, DSLR, GoPro, jacket, and other miscellaneous things. So as the first casualty of the trip, I noticed it starting to get a hole in the bottom.

Given the valuable nature of what I frequently carry in there, I didn’t want to chance it splitting open in an airport and dropping my laptop, etc. (Which would totally happen to me.) So I went to the market here and got a great fake definitely real North Face backpack. I’m surprised at the quality but the details seem to be pretty well-done – the padding is where it should be, the interior pockets are right, the zippers are facing inside for additional water-resistance, and the inside of the fabric is also coated for water-resistance. We’ll see how long it lasts! But I already like it much more than the daypack.

Souvenirs: $6.00
I bought my first souvenirs of the trip! I bought a pair of Cambodia pants and a Cambodia skirt. Both of them are great for temples (not great for real modesty) – they’re both wrap-around and very flowy, so if I wear Nike shorts under them I can easily go from temple to temple and then put the pants/skirt on over my shorts when I get to the temple. I thought I’d use these in Myanmar too (at the very least), so decided to pay the $6. However, if they don’t make it home with me, I’ll live.

Ultimately, it came out to an average of about $115.44 per day. This was mostly due to the fact that the days I spent here were touring days for Angkor Wat and due to flight costs. I targeted my non-flight/visa costs to be under $70/day, and came in at $67.64. (My flights and visas come out of separate budgets, so when I budget per country per day it’s without those included.)

I’m glad I came to Cambodia – seeing Angkor Wat was truly magnificent. However, I’m very ready to leave and did not fall in love with the country. I think it’s the first country I’ve been to that I didn’t fall in love with. I might give it another chance later on and go to Kep/Kampot/etc but for now it’s not high on my list. On to Myanmar!

I Hate Tuk-Tuks (And Other Cambodia Stories)

Oh Cambodia… coming straight after the Philippines, it was a bit of a culture shock. In the Philippines, almost everyone speaks English, and the areas I went were touristy but laid-back.

Then I landed in Siem Reap.

One of my friends here referred to it as “Siem Reap You Off” due to how expensive everything is and how aggressive the vendors are.

A Soapbox on Tuk-Tuks
Like the tuk-tuk drivers.

What is a tuk-tuk, you ask?

It’s this:

Each one is essentially a “chariot” on the back of a motorbike. And each carriage is constructed to be quite functional. But that’s not to be confused with comfortable.

These things are definitely made in such a way that you’d never know any sort of shock absorption had ever been invented. You say Jeeps have a rough ride? Clearly, you’ve not recently been in a tuk-tuk.

Because they’re wider than a bike, and because the bike is set in the middle for hauling the carriage, there is essentially no avoiding EVERY bump in the road. Every. Bump.

Seriously (and sorry, TMI), my bum has never been so sore as it was when I rode in a tuk-tuk for the day. At the end of the day, I just hurt.

But the vehicle itself is not the hardest part of the tuk-tuk – it’s the drivers. For tuk-tuk drivers, the temple circuit is quite lucrative. So they’re very aggressive about selling it to consumers, and seem to have a bit of a sense of entitlement that they’re the only transportation one should use for temples.

It’s hard to deal with the aggression of the tuk-tuk drivers, but there are times you see why. I saw multiple tuk-tuk drivers who actually live in their tuk-tuk. They will have a hammock to string across the carriage, and that’s where they sleep. Many of them come from the poverty of the countryside, so they’re working to send as much money home as possible.

But all the same – they’re aggressive in sales and perhaps the most optimistic I’ve ever seen. There can be six tuk-tuks in a row about 30-40 meters long, and you will say “No” to the first five tuk-tuks. Even though tuk-tuk #6 saw you say no to the other five, you will still get hassled. Got to admire the optimism!

Tuk-Tuk Art
I failed to get any pictures (crap), but one funny thing the tuk-tuk drivers will do is decorate their tuk-tuk to set them apart.

I saw two with the Audi rings painted on the back – and “S6” painted on the side. Definitely legit. Right?

There was one that had “Ferrari” and a few that had superhero themes – I saw a couple Batman tuk-tuks and a few Superman tuk-tuks. It’s a very creative way to make their vehicle stand out, and I have to say it’s probably good for marketing! I think foreigners find it funny to ride in an “Audi” tuk-tuk, so get a laugh from hiring the driver.

Cambodian Music
Before I came to Cambodia, I had not experienced Cambodian music.

It’s basically like a louder, more horn-like version of listening to a cell phone ringtone.

How do I know this, you ask?

Because the people next door to the hotel I stayed in began playing Cambodian music at a deafening volume at 6:43am. It did not stop until after 8:40pm. All day. I mean, I was out for a good part of the day, but it was so loud it was difficult to hear yourself think.

I was on the phone with Brandy during some of it, and she got to experience the joy that was that music!

Apparently, it was for some sort of celebration – either a wedding or a funeral. But it went on for two days (then I left… day 2 they started at 5:37am!), and it made me realize that I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore.

In the States, they would have been reported within an hour for being a public nuisance. And then the music would have stopped. It was an interesting cultural experience for me just because it was so different and loud. And (in my opinion) rude. But that’s a whole different post…

The Good News is I Survived

And luckily there’s really not bad news!

I feel like I need to start this post off with a brief history of my interactions with motorized vehicles – just for added context. Once we went as a family to Breckenridge, CO and decided to take some time to go snow-mobiling. Sounds fun, but alas, I almost flipped the snowmobile with my mom and I on it more than a few times, and I think we both ended up more than a little stressed. Whoops.

And then there were driving lessons… apparently, the way to start is not to ask “Which is the brake and which is the accelerator?” because I think my mom might have had a minor panic attack.

If the key won’t come out of your car, you probably shouldn’t call your brother almost panicked. He might suggest you simply place it in park.

One of my friends and I went to lunch one day, and on our way back to the office he asked “Did you really just make three right turns rather than a left turn?” The answer most certainly was “Yes.”

Suffice it to say, I’m not excellent at piloting things. I’m pretty good with a Sea-Doo, but that’s about it.

Here in Cambodia, there aren’t many ways to get around. One way is through tuk-tuk, which I found to be a giant pain. And very uncomfortable to boot.

Another is by motorbike. That still scares me.

Then I discovered e-bikes. E-bikes are motorized bicycles and I think they just have bike pedals on them to avoid licensing requirements. They are technically “bicycles” for insurance and driving license purposes. You can pedal if you want, but generally you don’t need to – it’s essentially like a motorbike but it goes a bit slower and has less exhaust. They go about 20km/h, or that’s the recommended speed for best battery life. They can go up to about 32 km/h.

What could possibly go wrong if I rented one of those in Cambodia?

Nothing, of course!

Given my excellent history with driving things, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to rent an e-bike and drive it out to Angkor Wat for my second day of temple sightseeing.

I went to the e-bike company, signed the paperwork, and handed my passport over as collateral. Terrifying. But standard practice I’m afraid…

The lady at the shop gave me about a five minute lesson on how to use the bike (and a helmet, thank goodness) and then I was off.

Except I wasn’t used to the e-bike so as I pulled out of their front sidewalk, I made a somewhat wide right turn. Right into the left lane. And had a bit of a problem getting to the right. Behind me, the lady from the shop was yelling “We drive on the right here!”

I’m praying she chalked it up to me being British or Australian or from somewhere where they drive on the left (though she had my passport, so I think I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt to save some embarrassment).

Then I was straight into merging into traffic. Of course, the e-bike office is in downtown Siem Reap, and that’s about 10km from the Angkor Wat complex. All told, the route I planned was about 55km.

But leaving from the heart of Siem Reap meant that I had to navigate my way to Angkor Wat through the traffic in the city. Traffic in an Asian city. Where I think I’ve seen a total of four stoplights. And street signs are not a thing. Turn signals don’t seem to be either.

I stayed as close to the side of the road as I could (there’s really not a multiple lane concept here for traffic going in one direction). People just kind of go around you, and will frequently go into the oncoming traffic lane if they think that’s a fast way to get around you.

Even so, I had to make two left turns and cross about five busy streets. Doesn’t sound like much, but each one had my adrenaline racing.

I made it to the complex without issue, and decided that this was quite possibly the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened. My day of temple touring was so different from yesterday – I took my time at each temple, I wandered around, I stopped at the side of the road for pictures. It was leisurely and wonderful. Driving around on the bike was fun, and it was great to feel the breeze in the heat.

I came across the most breathtaking expanse of rice fields, and it was easy to stop and take pictures. It didn’t feel like I was inconveniencing anyone like with the tuk tuk driver.

The Angkor Wat complex does not have a ton of traffic – it’s all tourist traffic of tuk tuks, cars (a shocking number of Lexus RXs, Toyota Highlanders, and Range Rovers), motorbikes, and bicyclists. But the complex is giant and especially where I was going, there was virtually no traffic to contend with. Most of the time I had the whole road to myself.

However, you get the evil eye from every tuk tuk driver you pass. They seem to hate people who rent e-bikes, bikes, or motorbikes because it’s one less tourist that’s paying the locals to drive them around. It’s an interesting balance – I feel bad not supporting them by using a tuk tuk driver, but my experience with them has been one of inconvenience.

I spent almost the whole day going around the complex – I left the e-bike shop about 10am, and decided to head back around 5pm.

I did not think that one through.

Turns out, rush hour here is the same time as rush hour at home. So I was now navigating my e-bike back to the shop through rush hour traffic while praying that the battery lasted me the whole way.

Rush hour here is like nothing I’ve ever driven in before. The “bike” lane on the far right side was filled with people who just plopped their street food kiosk in it… so I had to merge into the main traffic to get around those.

Then there were people who decided to use their motorbikes in the bike lane so they could drive into oncoming bike traffic. (What could possibly go wrong? I have no clue what possesses them to do this but it seems to be quite common.) There were all sorts of cars, trucks, and who knows what also parked on the side of the road.

The whole thing felt like I was playing Mario Kart – I had to dodge all sorts of things being thrown at me by my opponents. It really was just like Mario Kart except for the part where it was real life.

It took me far longer to get back than it should have – I might have gotten lost in Siem Reap a few times, but I finally made it successfully back to the e-bike shop. Thank God.

As I was driving in the traffic, and just in general today I recalled a lesson from learning to snowboard. Once, when I was working on switching from my heelside edge to the toeside edge, I had a number of problems. (This was one of my first snowboarding lessons.) My instructor came over and said “Your problem is not that you can’t do it, it’s that you don’t commit to the turn. You’re afraid if you commit to it, you’ll fall – but if you don’t commit you’ll definitely fall. Decide you’re making the turn, and go all in.”

In retrospect, that’s not terrible life advice. It was very true while driving in Cambodia – if you want to cross a street with traffic coming in perpendicular, you can cross it if you basically just confidently go across the street (while there’s the lightest traffic coming). You’ll never get a spot where there’s no traffic – people here are used to that and they tend to move around for you.

But if you don’t commit, if you’re hesitant, they no longer know where and how to move around you. So when you’re being overly cautious, you’re actually putting yourself in more danger. It’s an interesting balance – you have to be aware of others on the road, but if you proceed with confidence, you can cross almost anything.

But confidence and commitment are key.

{{Side note: the bike company has no idea I wrote this post, and it’s not sponsored in any way. Opinions are completely my own, but seriously – if you’re in Siem Reap you should check them out.}}

Tomb-Raiding (and Other Temple Adventures)

I hope you like temples! We have definitely arrived at the part of the trip that is temples, temples, and more temples! Temples in Siem Reap, temples in Bagan, temples in India – the next few weeks are filled with temples!

The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park has a ton of temples that aren’t just Angkor Wat. And to be honest – some of them are much more fun! Each has its own personality, which is fun to see in such a small amount of land area. And, each has a ton of photo ops, so get ready for a lot of pictures in this post!

Ta Prohm
Outside of Angkor Wat, the most well-know temple in the complex is Ta Prohm – and it’s well-know for one small portion: where they filmed sections of Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie.

The whole temple has essentially been left to the elements – it’s such a clear visual of how ephemeral even the most solid things are on this planet. This once-majestic, giant temple, is now largely heaps of stones that have been broken up by the giant trees growing through and around them. It’s now a different kind of majestic.

I love the moss growing everywhere and seeing how the jungle has reclaimed its own. The broken bits and blocks laying every which way make it feel much more like you’re discovering something. The whole temple makes it easy to see why they’d put a movie like Tomb Raider there.

The trees are the most giant I have ever seen – just the roots growing are many times bigger than me, and then the trees are so high!

Angkor Thom and Bayon
Angkor Thom is another well-known complex within Angkor Wat – it was constructed a bit later and is actually quite a bit larger. The main temple is a bit different and smaller than Angkor Wat. However, there are more smaller temples within the walls of the complex.

Angkor Thom is well-known by the gates to get into the complex – there are statues guarding the gate, and then the gate itself is giant!

The main temple within Angkor Thom is called Bayon, and it’s known as the “temple of faces” – there are giant faces carved in every direction and in many places around the temple!

Preah Khan
This temple is one on the grand loop, and can frequently be missed by people trying to see Angkor Wat in a day. I loved Preah Khan! It was pretty empty compared to those on the main loop, so it was fun to look around.

It also had a ton of super detailed carvings that were so cool!

Neak Pean
Neak Pean was a smaller temple that was set on an island. It was cool to get there because you have to pass over quite a long bridge, and the views of the water are gorgeous! Then you go through a bit of forest and you’re at Neak Pean.

Pre Rup
Pre Rup reminded me so much of Ollantaytambo in Peru! It was also built like a fortress that was quite high off the ground (with quite a few steps…), and the color of the stone felt similar.

This was the last temple I went to on the second day of touring, so I was so tired and hot when I got there! I got so few pictures, mainly because I sat down in the shade and then was joined by a few other tourists who were also hot and tired. It was cool to meet them! We ended up all just enjoying the shade for a good while, and then I decided to go. It was a cool temple, but by that point, I was just templed-out!

Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei was another pretty-giant temple! I honestly didn’t pick up the history of it – I just enjoyed the buildings and the carvings.

And those were the other temples I went to! It was quite the three-days of exploration. Cambodia is crazy hot in the summer!

Sunrise At Angkor Wat

I decided rather than split my temple-ing into the different days I went, I thought it would be good to just group them by temple. Starting with the biggest, most well-known I went to – Angkor Wat.

One big “thing” to do is to get there to watch the sunrise over the back of the temple. It’s built up to be one of the most breathtaking sunrises in the world. I woke up at 4:00am, got into my tuk-tuk at 4:30am and was at the temple when it opened at 5am.

I got to watch the sun rise with about 1,000 of my new best friends, all crowding around the two reflecting pools in front of the temple. It was fun to shoot photos of the sunrise, especially because I was playing with long exposures (I’m happy I sucked it up and added the weight of a small tripod for my DSLR).

But alas… the sun never actually rose. It just essentially became day because the cloud cover was so thick. So it wasn’t as amazing as I think it’s built up to be. Especially given all of the people around – to me, the most wonderful sunrises are those you enjoy in an isolated place alone or with just a few close friends/family.

It was still an amazing experience, and one I’ll never forget, so I’m glad I went! But I have to say, after the first day, I was SO disappointed with the photos overall. The light was terrible – thanks to all of the clouds it was flat and just awful.

Because of the lack of space in my bag, I haven’t really been buying souvenirs – I’ve been focusing instead on making sure I have great, fun pictures that I can print and frame and then use that as my souvenir from this trip. So when my pictures don’t turn out, I get a bit sad.

The pictures up through now were my best from day 1 and from the sunrise. Your face right now should be just as unimpressed as mine was when I reviewed them.

But the temple complex itself is breathtaking! It is truly magnificent, and I can see why they put it up with the top wonders of the world. It’s so much bigger than you think it’s going to be – to get there, first you have to cross the outside moat. It’s pretty wide for a moat, and you cross on these floating blocks. It was frankly not easy in the pitch black of 5am.

Then you go through the main entrance, and go down the main aisle to the temple itself. The main aisle is very long! You can go about 2/3 of the way down it and you’ll arrive at the reflecting pool, and then when you get in the temple it’s giant! There are five asparas (apparently the word for the towers). The temple itself has a multitude of columns, engravings, and statues. Really, it’s pretty incredible.

The second day of temple-ing, I decided to end the day by going back to Angkor Wat. I felt a little silly because I knew I was going for photos, but I did actually want some good ones of it!

On my way in, I saw all of these monkeys playing on the temple. They were much happier than the ones at Caluit. 😉

There were even a few mothers with their children! You could tell they were having fun, even as the guards were trying to shoo them away. Eventually, they went back into the forest next to the temple.

And then I got what is maybe my favorite picture of the trip so far:

The whole time I was doing a photo shoot with myself down by the pond, I managed to get some pictures that will definitely be frame-able. (Both with me in them and not…)

And some fun shots that got better in black and white:

I have to admit to being slightly less awed by it than I was by Machu Picchu (gosh I’m spoiled…). The temple itself is far more magnificent, but I think there’s something about Machu Picchu’s hidden mountain location that makes it more mysterious and magical.

All in all, it was a fun place to visit (though exhausting!) and I’m glad I made time for it! It was nice to visit because it was close to other places on my route, though I’m not sure it’s worth the trip over from the states just for the temples.

Scambodia? First Impressions of Cambodia

After an amazing couple of weeks in the Philippines, I headed over to Cambodia. I wanted to see the temples and Angkor Wat, so I flew into Siem Reap.

Once I landed, getting my visa and through immigration was an interesting experience. Visas can be obtained once you land for $30USD (cash) and there is a whole line of immigration officers that take your passport and each one writes or stamps something on the visa. Not your usual process!

Then, after you have your visa, you go through immigration. I thought it was a bit odd that immigration was before we picked up our bags, but in some ways it was really convenient because we didn’t have to wait for the bags!

My hotel was supposed to come pick me up from the airport, but they were not there! Eeek! There was a communication breakdown between the service I used to book the hotel and the hotel itself.

One thing I’m starting to learn is that it’s really ok to roll with things. I wasn’t too bothered that the hotel wasn’t there, and I knew I could easily grab a ride to the hotel. So I went to the airport tuk tuk office.

I hate airport transit in just about every airport so far. I hate that people stake it out to scam the tourists who just landed and make them pay extortionate amounts for a ride! However, it was almost 10pm and I was quite tired from a day of travel so I was the perfect target. I wasn’t as worried about cost as just getting to bed! At least this airport office had standardized payment amounts, so I paid $12 for my ride to the hotel.

And was almost the victim of my first scam. Welcome to Cambodia! When I paid my $12, I had a $10 and $5 bill. My change came back as one $1 bill and one $2 bill.

I did a double take on the $2 bill because something seemed off about it. One thing about Cambodia that’s unique is that while they technically have their own currency, literally everything is priced in USD. And the almighty dollar is the currency for all transactions. I thought to myself “Hmmm does the US even print these any more?” as I looked at the $2 bill and the bill itself felt off. The paper didn’t feel quite right (not enough of the fabric-y give that our money has and too paper-y) and was incredibly crisp.

I was waiting at the counter for the guy to fill out a form. Silly me, I thought it was one of those official airport forms but no – it was the ubiquitous offer of tuk tuks for temple tours. But it did give me enough time to decide that the $2 bill wasn’t right, and as he handed me the sheet of paper, I handed him the bill back and asked for two $1 bills.

The look he gave me was quite interesting – it was somewhere between disdain, disgust, and rejection. In retrospect, I think it was some level of shame because I had quietly called him out on the fake $2 bill.

And that’s what I learned later – $2 bills are not accepted by any Cambodian banks, and they are the ones that float around as forgeries given to tourists as change. I could see where people who don’t use USD every day don’t get the subtle differences in feeling, and it’s such a pain to have to be on the lookout for scams constantly! But on the plus side, I’m proud of myself for noticing that it was off, and getting it fixed.

So that’s a very long story for a $2 bill. But it was a good introduction to Cambodia.

Once I got the ride to the hotel from the airport, I was wondering if my hotel would be as good as it looked online. Online, it was quite beautiful – very modern-Asian style with rich colors, clean lines, and a gorgeous pool out front.

The hotel is exactly as pictured online – it’s gorgeous, but…

It’s SO far from the town! They have a free tuk tuk that will take you into town, but there’s nothing walkable from the hotel. Given that most of the day is spent out temple-hopping it’s not that big of a deal.

So it’s about 11pm, I’m exhausted and checking in and for some reason my scam radar was quite on edge. The hotel front desk gave me a “registration form” to fill out which of course asked for my credit card number. The hotel was prepaid, so I could just see giving them my credit card and them charging me a second time.

For the second time that night, I stood up for myself and told them that no, they didn’t need the credit card as it was all prepaid. I think the guy at the reception was tired too, as he didn’t fight me on it.

I got to my room, walked in, and everything was just as pictured online! The shower was gorgeous and had a rain shower head mounted from the ceiling; the bed was large and crisp and comfortable. The balcony was very cute, though I couldn’t see the view from it.

I turned on the AC in my room, took a shower and then went to bed. Or tried to at least. I could not figure it out, but the AC was not working. And it’s crazy hot here. Basically like Florida in the summer. So my room was hot, stuffy and I thought that somehow I just didn’t know how to work the AC. To top it off, the WiFi was also not working. One thing I expected in Cambodia was that the WiFi would be much better than in the Philippines. They don’t have the “island” excuse, so I knew it had to be terrestrial Internet.

It was a miserable night. I barely slept, and when it was about 2:30am and it was clear the AC wasn’t working, I went downstairs to reception. The guy from reception was sound asleep on some of the chairs (with a mosquito net over him – the reception is open-air). I decided not to wake him and just tried to go back to sleep.

I slept fitfully and was pretty convinced by the time I woke up that I would be checking out of this hotel and going to find a new one that was closer to town and had working AC and WiFi.

As I walked down to breakfast, I asked the reception guy (now the day-shift guy) about the AC and how to work it. He looked with horror when he asked “Did you have no AC all night?” and I could tell he felt bad about it. I told him not to worry about it (I didn’t want to make these folks mad before I secured another hotel) and he went up to work it with me. He had me leave it on while I went down to breakfast.

Breakfast was fabulous. It was a multi-course meal starting with cereal (coco krispies – yay!), fruit (dragonfruit, pineapple, and mango – all very fresh), a pancake (clearly freshly made and very tasty) and a basket of bread (the two croissants were fresh out of the oven and light and flaky). As I ate, I was softening towards staying at the hotel – the guy seemed very sure the AC would work.

Late in my breakfast, the reception guy came down and told me that I was right – the AC was in fact not working in that room. So they upgraded me to a suite. I walked in, and saw the most gorgeous bathtub I have ever seen, and the room was giant and nice. I moved in quickly.

Also while I was eating, the WiFi magically started working. The overnight concerns were quickly being addressed, and being far from town is not too bad. (By “far” it’s about a 5-7 minute tuk tuk ride into town.)

Now I’m quite happy with the hotel! It’s definitely quiet and relaxing.

After breakfast, I went into town and spent the day wandering Siem Reap. The town is small and very tourist-oriented. I wandered the market and was accosted by all sorts of vendors.

They use the word “lady” here like we would usually use “ma’am.” It’s quite odd to hear “Hey lady buy things from me. You buy from my shop. Good price good price. What you like?” It just feels odd to be addressed by everyone as “Hey lady.”

Every tuk tuk you pass on the street yells at you to see if you need a ride or temple touring. Temple touring costs about $15-20, and for them, it’s a great wage for not a lot of work. So of course everyone and their dog is trying to sell you on temple touring.

It’s a bit frustrating to be constantly hassled by people selling things, but I did have an interesting insight on it. There is not nearly as much advertising here as in the States (at least not that I’m exposed to) and what there is is fairly passive – like billboards. The shopkeepers hassling you is essentially just the original advertising still being used.

When I think of it that way, it’s easier to adjust to. My cousin Derek gave me some great advice about haggling – he said to just relax, have fun with it, and go back and forth with them. Thinking that way definitely helped!

I decided to get a massage – that’s another thing that is very ubiquitous for tourists here. A half-hour massage cost me $4, and I probably could have gotten a better deal if I tried harder! It was nice and relaxing.

I stopped at an authentic French Crepe restaurant (the owner was in the restaurant) and these were (as far as I can tell) quite authentic. It was a very tasty lunch!

After lunch, I wandered through a temple and then went to the Angkor National Museum. The museum was quite well done and it was great to learn some Angkor history before going to the temples. I saw more in the carvings and details in the temples thanks to learning about it at the museum.

That night, I decided to try some rolled ice cream from a street vendor – this is the same stuff that’s now taking the States by storm. It was so good! I had a Nutella and Oreo concoction and it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten on this trip. Might be less than authentic, though…

And that’s it! I headed in, went to bed (thankfully with AC) and set my alarm for 4am for sunrise at Angkor Wat. I’m not sure how I feel about Cambodia just yet – I do feel like I have to be much more on guard here against scams, and I hate the constant hassling to buy things. But the country itself is gorgeous! We’ll see how my feelings evolve.