Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cambodia Travel Diary: Day 1 at Siem Reap

Day 1 officially began and we were ready for some adventure!

Here's the clean pool which was quite a nice view to have during breakfast.

When you stay at King Boutique Hotel, you're entitled to a simple but hearty breakfast buffet.

We rented a van during the duration of our trip to help get us around the area. 

First we each had to buy an Angkor Pass to give us access for our temple run. We went for the 2-day pass since we had planned to visit Banteay Srei on Day 1, which was quite far from Angkor Wat. Keep this ticket safe since it's your access to the different historical temples, and because it's pricey.

Our first stop was Phnom Kulen National Park. It's 2 hours North from Siem Reap, so if you want to be away from the herds of tourists over at the Khmer temples, this is the place to go. Here you can see pagodas, monks, waterfalls, and mountains. To be honest, I found this more interesting than the ruins alone, since there was a lot more things to do here.

Look at the first sight that greeted us! Shopping! :D

Endless stalls of souvenirs. Guess which scarf I took home?

Hola, mis amigos! 

Our first stop was Preah Ang Thom, famous for the reclining Buddha. 

We also went to see Kbal Spean. It's situated deep in the jungle to the northeast of Angkor. It's riverbed is carved with lingas, phallic symbol of Hindu god Shiva. The fresh water runs down towards the nice cool waterfalls. 

Here, you can cool down by taking a dip. Back in January, the temperature in Cambodia was already rivaling what we're having now in Manila, so yeah, taking a dip here is definitely a good idea! 

After seeing the pagodas and exploring a bit of nature, we were ready for lunch! We asked our driver to recommend us a good restaurant nearby, and so he led us to Srey Kulen Restaurant. It took me a while to choose an order, because the items of the menu were expensive comparing to what they're really worth. I didn't have the luxury of time to take photos of everyone's food since we were all starving, but this was what I had. The serving isn't big, and the taste was just okay. If I remember it correctly, this dish alone already costed around $7. Here in the Philippines, I could get this dish for less than $2, and both countries are Third World, to be fair. I do not recommend this restaurant at all. 

Our next stop was one I was excited about! Banteay Srei actually means "Citadel of Women", and it's believed that the delicate and intricate carvings of the structures can only be done by the hand of a woman. 

This is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It's mostly made from red sandstone, hence the pinkish appearance of the temples and ground. It's amazing and beautiful here, and this attraction is my favorite, despite having seen the other temples the next day. 
Banteay Srei, you are beautiful.

Since we had a not-so-good lunch, we made it a point to make up for it come dinner time. One restaurant personally recommended by my friend's family is Blue Pumpkin located in Pub Street. It's a French bakery and patisserie, an ice cream parlour, and a restaurant with a lounge atmosphere. It's a cool place to chill, and we were here almost everyday.

I tried to do a panoramic shot but failed. Haha! The ground floor has normal chairs and tables, and they have 2 long refrigerator shelves of ice cream, and then some breads and cakes. 

The mezzanine is cute with the bean bag chairs! But go upstairs and be WOWed!

It's the first time I've been to a restaurant as cozy as this! Just look at the almost bed-like setup. (Here you can see which scarf I got!)

Here are what we ordered, but I wasn't able to note the prices. The dishes here are reasonably-priced, the food is good, and the total experience made us go back to this restaurant again and again throughout our stay. 

Beef Burger

Apple Shake & Banana Yogurt Shake

The big burger and apple shake was mine; the other dishes I already forgot their names and I regret not taking photos of the menu, since I can't find them at all on the internet. LOL. Everything was delicious! I highly recommend Blue Pumpkin. :D

Stay tuned for Day 2 of my Cambodia Travel Diary. ;)

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