Siem Reap. The famous home to the beautiful and even more famous Angkors of Cambodia. Both A and I are happy to be in this town. Somehow the change of scenery is nice. After having visited so many beaches it is exciting to visit an urban place again. Everything is fast moving and different from back home and I instantly fall in love with Cambodia and the friendly vibe here.
We have had a long journey to get here. First we had to go all the way back up to Bangkok with the train and then from Bangkok to Siem Reap by bus. The roads are very good so the ride itself was smooth but the train is ones again a sit-up seats only and we did not get much sleep. However, now we are here, in Siem Reap, in our lovely Cashew Nut guesthouse. We sleep for a couple hours before we go explore.
Early next day we are picked up by our sweet driver, Tom, who takes us to see the Angkors. We see Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prhohm, Banteay Kdei among other temples and I suddenly realise that all the pictures of temples I have seen from Cambodia were all from this, relatively, small area that is in fact not small at all. I had no idea there were this many temples here. No idea that all these pictures I’ve been seeing were from this area. We walk through the temples in the blistering sun for many kilometres. We drag ourselves up and down the many thousands steps. We enjoy it but we also get exhausted. A is ready to call it a day after we’ve seen three temples and so she waits with Tom in his tuk-tuk while she eats ice cream and I go to see Ta Prhohm on my own. As it is it turns out to be my favourite temple. It has been overgrown by some huge, beautiful trees and it gives me jungly feeling as I walk through the temple site.
Our driver tells us about some of the famous temples. A is very interested in what Tom is saying and she asks a lot of questions. We start talking about holy places and religion. We talk about how old these temples are, how they were build by pure man power and how old the trees are that are now growing over the ruins.
Aw khun A says to Tom as we say goodbye that afternoon. We are both tired and spend the rest of the day hanging out at our guesthouse. The next day we rent a bike and go explore Siem Reap. It is a wonderful city. We go very slowly as the traffic swirls around us. A sits behind me as I steer the bike. There are all kinds of vehicles but scooters are in abundance and everyone keeps a keen eye on the road. You have to be awake when driving on these streets and the half-slumber many drivers back home seem to find themselves in is of no use here. If you want to stay safe you need to be alert and have fast reflexes and everyone seems to have that here. The traffic seems at first glance to be completely chaotic and impossible to drive in but after a little while I see that there’s a system to the chaos and everone manages to avoid crashing into each other even though people drive on both sides of the road and in many layers. The roads are small in this city and everyone goes slow. It is like a wonderfully chaotic puzzle that slowly but certainly falls into place. I love it. A laughs behind me and wraps her arms around my waist. She is not nervous to be riding like this I can feel and she is curiously watching all the other people on the road. She has a keen eye for details and notices so many things as we go around all the while asking me a lot of questions.
We bike to the Peace Cafe that I have been inspired to visit after reading my friend Lisa’s blog. It seems the cafe has moved and changed it’s appearance but it is still a really lovely place and we spend a long time there eating delicious vegan food, reading, talking and iPading. Lovely.
We bike along the river and visit the Old Market. We sit in the shade of a big beautiful tree and watch the city.
The atmosphere is so much more mellow here than in Thailand. It seems there is more time for just being or maybe it is just the two of us who fit perfectly right here right now. We make a point to get as many 1 dollar shakes as we can possibly drink. A likes the apple ones and the mango ones. My favourite one is the coconut shake.
We spend five nights in Siem Reap. One day A wakes up feeling really ill. She has a fever and her bones ache. She just lays there on the bed very still. She has a headache and feels nauseous. I make sure she gets plenty of fluids. She doesn’t want any food. I get worried and start reading about her symptoms on the internet. I convince myself she has dengue fever and I start to panic. I go downstairs to ask the owner, Steve, what he thinks it might be. He is able to calm me down very quickly be being absolute certain it is NOT dengue fever. I have these symptoms all the time he reassures me. He offers to take us to the pharmacy where people also function as a kind of doctors and I say we would like to go. I have given A rehydrating salt and lots of water. We go to the pharmacy across the road with the friendly receptionist and A gets something for her fever and a headache band. We go back to our room and she drinks the medicin and lays down on the bed with the headache band. She sleeps for a little while and feels better when she wakes up. The next day the fever is gone. No dengue fever after all, phew.