Like a lot of people, I first became aware of Cambodia through Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft movie. I remember being enchanted by those ancient ruins and gigantic trees growing over them. I thought then how wonderful it would be to see those crumbling temples with my own eyes. As I read more about Cambodia, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat have always stood out. And so I was filled with excitement when I was successful in booking a Cebu Pacific promo for Manila to Siem Reap. Only Php 1,700.00 instead of the usual 8,000+ woohoo!
This article is part of a series. You might want to read the other parts too 🙂
- Budget Guide
- Day 01 – Arrival
- Day 02 pt. 01 – Buying the Siem Reap Temple Pass
- Day 02 pt. 02 – Roluos Group Temples
- Day 02 pt. 03 – The Grand Circuit Temples
- Day 02 pt. 04 – Pub Street and Night Market
- Day 03 pt. 01 – Sunrise at Angkor Wat
- Day 03 pt. 02 – Tomb Raider Time at Ta Prohm
- Day 03 pt. 03 – Amazing Angkor Wat
- Day 03 pt. 04 – Astounding Angkor Thom
- Day 04
- Day 05
- Day 06
- Day 07
Accompanying me on this trip were two great friends and fellow introverts – Jonathan of ethanllemit.com and Kristal. We left Cebu on November 23, 2014 – Sunday noon. We were off to a bit of a rough start because first, my newly-bought and yet-to-be-opened extension wire was confiscated by Mactan Airport personnel, which is odd and frustrating since I’ve carried extension wires on previous trips without a problem.
Second, as we were going through the gates and undergoing baggage inspections, Kristal lost her boarding pass, oh no! After we slightly panicked, Jonathan was able to retrieve it from the floor near the gates. Phew (insert nervous laughter). Third, when we boarded the plane, it turned out that Kristal’s seat was separate from mine and Jonathan’s, which was a bit of a bummer since we wanted to sit together and talk and stuff. Lastly, our flight was delayed twice, tsk.
The flight to NAIA was uneventful and we finally landed in Manila at 3:30 PM. Starving, we proceeded to the food court, decided to eat at a Japanese place called Le Amoretto Cafe & Bar. Ordered a somewhat bland meal set of Gyu Don and iced tea plus a bottle of water, which cost me 185.00, ouch. Afterwards, we proceeded to the check in counters for the flight to Siem Reap, paid the ridiculous international travel tax (Php 1,620.00) and airport terminal fee (Php 550.00), and chilled while waiting for our flight.
We Finally Set Foot in Siem Reap
After 30 minutes of delay, we finally flew at 8:15 PM and arrived in Siem Reap around 3 hours later – 10:00 PM (Cambodia is 1 hour behind the Philippines). As we stepped out of the Siem Reap International Airport, heat and humidity greeted us despite that it was already late in the evening. We soon learned that the dry season in the country was just starting and temperatures were expected to rise some more in the succeeding weeks. The Philippines is hot, true, but Siem Reap was hotter and more humid that time. Sweating and feeling sticky became the norm when we were there haha.
The accommodation we booked for the whole stay was Ta Som Guest House. If you’ve read my budget guide, you’ll know that we were able to book a great package with them, which included accommodation for 7 nights, daily tours with transportation and guide, daily breakfasts and airport transfers. True to their word, one of their drivers was waiting for us when we arrived. He enthusiastically introduced himself as Tei (like the tea you drink every morning he said) and immediately showed off the Filipino words he’s learned, which was interestingly a mix of Tagalog and Visaya. Nice! He also kept asking us how we say “we are hungry” in Filipino lol.
The car trip from the airport to our guest house took no time at all. On the way we amused ourselves by looking at all the grand and luxurious hotels on both sides of the road. At first glance, Siem Reap seemed to be a modern city. Only later would we discover its cultural heritage and ancient structures, which were all magnificent seriously!
Wandered a bit then slept
Although we were tired and it’s nearing midnight, we didn’t immediately crash into our beds upon check in. We went out to explore the vicinity a bit. We were glad to have found a Star Mart right beside our guest house, which we went to every night we were there to buy cheap bottles of water and snacks. On the other side, we experienced our first street food in Siem Reap. There was a tiny noodle shop manned by a handsome guy (yes we noticed ^_~) selling huge bowls of delicious Cambodian noodles for only $1. We each got huge servings that tried as we might, we weren’t able to totally consume.
Finally, tiredness set in and so we went back to our pleasantly cooled room, took a shower and promptly fell asleep. It’s safe to say that the three of us were very excited and happy to be there and were quite looking forward to the next day’s activities.