We have arrived at a new country! Also, this is officially the longest we have traveled together – 2 weeks! We are still getting along so far 🙂 And bonus – they use the U.S. dollar here- halla! We shared our $7 car from the airport to our hostel with a very nice German girl who we ended up going on our tour with the next day! Upon arriving to the Funky Flashpacker hostel, we knew we were going to like it immediately based on the fun vibe of people around the pool, and the good mix of music (so glad there wasn’t EDM playing!). Our room was the biggest one so far, and had cool artwork of famous artists on the wall. We had already arranged to get our Visas to our next country of Vietnam in Cambodia with a local travel agency so we had to get that business done first. We started walking but it started pouring rain so we hopped in the nearest Tuk Tuk for $2. Later we found that it should have only cost $1. You live and you learn 🙂 After getting back to our hostel we enjoyed getting to know a very drunk Canadian and hearing his crazy stories of his travels the past year. We decided to sign up for the Angkor Wat and temple tour for the sunrise as suggested by the hostel. That meant getting up at 3:30 a.m., so that also meant going to bed at 8 p.m. for the big sleeper I am 🙂 I literally had nightmares about sweating to death.
After waking up well rested at 3:30 a.m. we quickly got ready than ate breakfast at our hostel as it was half off since we signed up for the tour! We both ordered breakfast sandwiches, but had to pay extra to add on cheese since it’s not included – totally worth it was delicious! You always have to pay extra for everything here, including the delicious homemade peanut butter. Even though we were told the tour left at 4:15 we didn’t actually leave until 4:45. Hurry up and wait. I’m pretty sure we were one of the few people on the tour that wasn’t hungover 🙂 And I’m sure glad we weren’t with the weather being in the 90’s and extremely humid! I loved the diversity of the people on the tour – 2 girls from Ireland, 1 guy from Canada, 2 girls from Sweden, a girl from Brazil and our new German friend. One of the greatest things about traveling is meeting people from all over the world! We had to dress modestly with the the rules of the temple meaning your shoulders and knees need to be covered. I was dying of heat in my black capris, t-shirt and tennis shoes. I wore an tank top under my t-shirt so when I left the temple I could take off my t-shirt immediately and jump back into the air conditioned van to hit the next temple.
First stop was the famous Angkor Wat temple. It was filled with tourists, as this is their main source of income. We got a great seat right in front of the pond and sat waiting for the sun to rise. The bugs were out so of course I got bit up, while Rob walked away without one bite! I kept taking pictures over and over of the temple reflecting in the pond. We never got the epic sunrise I was hoping for, but it was still cool to see. Our guide took us around telling us fun facts about temple, although he was a bit hard to understand as he was a local so I didn’t catch everything he was saying. The jist I got out of it was that the temples we saw would switch between Buddhist and Hindu due to a change in religion. We were able to go to the very top of the temple they call “heaven” to explore, the steps were extremely steep. This is where we were able to see the 5 towers from down below up close. Our guide asks us if we want to do breakfast now our later, to get out of the heat of the sun most vote for now. The way he said it made it sound like it was included, so I’m not very happy when I found out it isn’t. We decide to split a pineapple smoothie to cool off.
The next stop was a temple famous from the movie Tomb Raider. People line up to take pictures in front of the famous tree. At one point I get extremely aggravated that we are waiting in line to take a picture and people are cutting in front of us that I actually have to firmly tell them that we are next and be super aggressive in order to get our turn. I couldn’t wait to get away from the crowds.
Here is the next temple which I know nothing about as our guide didn’t tell us about it. He just dropped us off and let us explore on our own. Rob made the trek up to the top. I decided to stay in the shade at the bottom and keep the Brazilian girl company and we took pictures of each other on the steps. After we encouraged to buy smoothies by our driver at a specific stand – they must have struck some kind of deal to bring her business. So we split a watermelon smoothie. Smoothies never get old in hot weather 🙂
Our last temple was one of my favorites because of the cool faces it had! This temple was clearly Buddhist as there were several Buddha statues inside. We ran around the temple taking fun pictures. Once it struck 1 we were ready to go back and jump into the pool! Thankfully the hostel was only about a 5 minute ride.
That night we walked around town to find dinner. We were shocked to see meals as little as $1 – this was our kind of place! I ordered the traditional Cambodian Khmer curry which was very different from the curry in Thailand. It was almost more of a stew because it included potatoes and carrots. Also the best part was it came served in a coconut! Since I’m obsessed with smoothies I of course had to order a papaya one and for 50 cents – how can you not 🙂
This was one of our best hostel experiences. The staff was awesome – they seemed like one big happy family. One of the bartenders happened to be from Edina, Minnesota! It’s more rare to find backpackers from the states let alone Minnesota! Small world. They were actually hiring – tempting. Although I would never be able to keep up with the amount they drink themselves while serving drinks. I was curious about the hiring so I asked the guy from Minnesota how it worked. He said they work 6 days a week, got half price drinks, 3 free meals a day and a free dorm for a pay of $200 per month. Crazy difference in pay, but remember how inexpensive everything is here!
We started our nights at the rooftop bar where we met many other backpackers from around the world. It wasn’t until 1 a.m. when the bartenders were off work that we all went together as a group to see the famous pub street that was filled with tuk tuk bars where you could choose your own music on the computer! We were with a group of girls from Brazil (including one we had met back in Koh Phangan) so we enjoyed dancing to Latin music in the middle of the street.
The last day there was supposed to be a pool crawl, but unfortunately it was cancelled so we made the best of it by having a Sunday Funday where we schooled everyone in beer pong 4-0! We also played an intense game of volleyball with the Spanish girls against Rob and the Canadian guys. The girls from Spain were very competitive I fit right in! After just 3 nights it was hard to say goodbye to everyone we had met, but I guess it’s not too uncommon to see people again in the backpacking world! It was difficult to stay awake until midnight to catch our night bus. It was so hot and we missed having our room with air conditioning since we had to check out, so we paid a little extra to eat a restaurant with A.C.
Than we took naps on the comfy bean bags by the pool, and were awoken at 11:15 saying that our transfer was ready – 45 minutes early! Don’t hurry up and wait – just hurry! Now this was a very different concept than everything being late in the island life. Thankfully we were ready. The open aired transfer brought us to our bus only a few minutes away. When we were finally able to get on the bus there were cockroaches running out the sewer drain right by the door. I had to make a run for it while screaming 🙂 We boarded the bus that we were both very excited to ride since a sleeper bus was a new experience for us – and of course because it’s just like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter! We had a top tiny bunk probably the size just slightly bigger than a twin bed. I had heard some horror stories of people who had to share these beds with total strangers! Thankfully Rob let me be the big spoon 🙂 It was a 6 hour journey to Phnom Penh. Read more about our experience there soon!