We have just arrived home from a very successful 5 day Siem Reap / Angor Wat mission with Leakhana, Grace, Angus, Phalla and her kids and mum. Nine people, one car, 1000km, two different hotels in two different cities, Ancient Angkorian temples, cocktails galore and happy faces all round.
We left last Tuesday in Phalla’s very comfortable Toyota Vienta ( a soccer mum van with auto sliding doors on both sides and reclining seats with foot rests and a drop down DVD screen = luxury. I drove as far as Kampong Thom before stopping for some food at http://www.solarcafebaray.com/ . The 200 kms took about 4 hours on shocking roads and I was pretty knackered when we hit this quirky but excellent Christian home stay operation. We ate excellent fried rice and drank coffee and then headed onwards to Siem Reap with the kids intermittently asleep, fighting or singing songs. In all it took us seven hours to do the 330km trip. Insane.
My brother in law Tra lives part time in Siem Reap and through a friend of his managed to secure two adjoining rooms at the awesome Royal Angkor Resort http://www.royalangkorresortsiemreap.com for the bargain basement mates rate of $35 ( normally $160 ! ) . The resort is beautiful and very similar to Raffles le Royale and has the largest swimming pool in Siem Reap much to the kids enjoyment with stunning gardens, a great restaurant and brilliant staff. The room service was cheap, the day spa was 30% off after 4pm (mum loved it ) and the free breakfast was never ending. We were very lucky indeed to score that one.
We went out to Angkor Wat on day one and it was just as I remembered it. Hot ,steamy and VERY crowded. We almost died of thirst on the way across the front paddock to get to the Angkor compound and the kids were alternatively in awe and then over it. We walked around without a guide and took photos when we could get a moment without the hoardes ruining the shots. Grace and I went to the top. No longer the narrow rock death stairs of 2006, there is now a very nice wooden staircase to walk up. After Angkor we drove further into the park and visited some lesser ruins and then we bought some food and picnicked under a tree next to a big lake. That night we went downtown to eat at Mr Grill and we were all in bed early.
The following days were spent wombling around Siem Reap and surrounds. We visited some of the old Khmer Rouge irrigation sites and the group went up to Banteay Srey without me – I opted to luxuriate in the hotel room. One night Leakhana,Phalla, Tra and I escaped downtown and ate at the Red Piano and then moved on to down quite a few cocktails at Miss Wongs which was just an excellent little back alley bar. I also managed to sneak in a job interview while I was up there. I will not say too much at this stage as I am one of 8 people being interviewed but I will just say that I would LOVE to get this job as it si right up my alley and it would mean we would be moving to Siem Reap. Fingers crossed.
We ended up extending an extra night and the women went on a bender while I looked after the kids. Next day we packed up and headed to Phnom Penh and when we got near Kampong Th0m I decided to surprise everyone with a night at Sambor Village owned by a mate Rob. He very nicely extended a 50% discount and the kids were stoked to hit yet another lovely pool. Today we made it safely back to phnom penh in one piece and as I type everyone is asleep.
Total cost ; 5 nights Accommodation, Petrol, All food including room service, poolside cocktails, nights out downtown, passes to Angkor, shopping for various items ( shadow puppets etc ) ; $900. BARGAIN.