Thursday, Dec. 29
This was our last day in Luang Prabang, and in Laos. We packed our bags and headed to the airport at lunch. The flight was short and pleasant and, after less than one hour in the air, we arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The visa proceedings here were swift and easy. The airport is a lot more modern and put together than in Luang Prabang. We got our luggage, got in the Rickshaw that the hotel had sent for us and headed to our home for the next few days. Thanks Dennis for recommending the hotel 🙂 – we had a warm welcome and got a lovely room.
In the evening we walked from our hotel to a very hip restaurant called Malis. They had a DJ playing live music – well, it was some hellish electro-house monstrosity that seemed weirdly misplaced in the subdued elegance of the decor- but meh. The staff was very friendly and we got a table even without a reservation.
The food was fantastic – except that I ordered a crab curry for my main dish. And when it arrived I realised that I don’t know how to eat a crab that is still in its shell and bathed in curry sauce. So I asked one of the waitresses for help. She brought the tongs, showed me- theoretically- how to use them and left me to my own devices. Suffices to say it did not go well. The curry was delicious and the crab meat that I managed to scrape out was sweet and buttery and wonderful. But I made a brilliant mess of the entire table and my mood dropped.
Andreas was watching the massacre from across the table with a mixture of worry and amusement, while enjoying his beef curry like the civilised, mannered person that he is. Eventually, I gave up halfway through the crab, made my peace with it and ordered some dessert to get my sugar levels and my mood back up. The waitress was so kind, she came to apologise that I hadn’t enjoyed the food. Which made me apologise for not knowing how to eat it, which made her apologise for not having known that I didn’t know because she would have advised me not to order it, which led me to say she could not have known that I didn’t know. And so on. We were all friends by the end of the night. And at some point the DJ stopped, which really helped with everything.
Friday, Dec. 30
This was our leisure day in SR before the 2 day tour in Angkor.
We spent half of the day at the pool and the afternoon and evening in the city.
Our hotel is small and there were only a few guests staying. It was quiet and the staff was very attentive, so spending half a day at the pool was very relaxing and quiet.
In the afternoon we drove to the night market and finally got some cash from the beloved Canadia bank ATM. We walked a bit through the city, along busy and packed sidewalks, trying not to get run over by traffic and avoiding Pub Street as much as possible. More about that later. Siem Reap is bigger and louder and more busy than the little paradise of Luang Prabang. It’s filled with tourists and locals, there are large boulevards dusty with traffic and, again, no or little room for pedestrians. The night market spreads along and across the river, with merchants shouting their prices at passers-by. Every bridge across the river is heavy with lights and decorations, and standing on one of the bridges looking upstream I was reminded of Amsterdam just a little bit.
We headed to Haven – a training restaurant and also a youth support project. We were welcomed by a lady who speaks German and who gave us a table – again without having made a reservation first. The food was great, the service too. Even the wine was very nice, which was a first on this trip.
From Haven we walked into the bustling night market and ended up right on Pub Street. It’s like Oktoberfest in 30 degree heat. The street is filled with pubs (as suggested discretely by the name), cafes, street food stalls, fried- ice-cream stalls (that is a thing, yes), weird fried insects stalls, more bars, karaoke, AND A LIVE MUSIC STAGE. All surrounded by the night market. Coming from Luang Prabang we felt like we were dropped in the pits of hell. I exaggerate of course, but it was rather a culture shock. We decided that we will not return to Pub Street for the New Year celebration, as initially planned, because we are not insane. It was a good decision.