First Impressions in Siem Reap

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Vietnam Airlines turned out to be nicer than any of the planes we generally board when we fly domestically and we had to laugh a little bit about the fact that 3rd world airlines are nicer than any run in the United States. We were fed a full meal on the 90 minute flight and before we knew it we’d touched down in Siem Reap.

We climbed down the stairs onto the tarmac, we were immediately hit with the change in weather. The humidity was stifling even though the sun had been down for two hours and it wasn’t even that hot. We figured we’d be doomed when the sun came out in the morning.

At the airport gate, a yellow sign with our names on it was being held by our tuk tuk driver, ready to take us to our guesthouse. The tropical humidity made me feel like I was in Hawaii, but taking a tuk tuk to our guest house was way more fun than renting a car! He loaded us up with all our gear and asked our permission to leave. Once moving, we savored the wind blowing through the cart and started taking in our surroundings. We couldn’t seem to wipe the smiles off our faces.

We were a bit unprepared for the touristy mayhem which is Siem Reap, overwhelmed by the flashing signs and English speakers. We normally don’t care much for places that are so overrun by tourists that they feel a bit like Disneyland, but for whatever reason, Siem Reap is hard to hate. Within a few minutes we arrived to the guesthouse,  removed our dust caked shoes at the lobby, were greeted by the friendly staff, and headed up to our tidy little room.

We were in desperate need of a shower, so we quickly cleaned up and then headed out to take care of our transportation situation. It seems that no matter where we go, we hate to be without our own wheels, and this time, we opted for some trusty bicycles for touring the temples. We picked some ridiculous looking American made mountain bikes, deciding against the less expensive ones that looked like what the locals ride (read: rusty).

Then we headed out to see the town. That plan lasted for all of about five minutes before we realized that we were starving and really not in any mood to shop. One block from our hotel, we located a friendly looking little restaurant, and took a seat. The owner quickly greeted us and made a big fuss about the bikes, dragging them clear inside the restaurant to avoid them being stolen or rained on. Amused, we mumbled to ourselves about how we wished our bikes got that kind of royal treatment at home!

Soon, we were surrounded by big bowls of tasty Cambodian curry and mango milkshakes and free fruit for desert. We devoured pretty much every last bite before calling it a night.


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