One fine day last January, I went on a solo trip to Cambodia. I was supposed to go with 2 of my flatmates but due to conflict of schedules, we ended up travelling separately. Also, I wasn't able to get a leave off work so the trip was just during my 3-day rest day. I really wanted to travel to Egypt but I settled for Ankor Wat since its cheaper and nearer. I never expected it to be an unforgettable and surreal trip.
There was no direct flight to Siem Reap on my preferred dates, so I booked my flights, via Tiger Airways, to Phnom Penh instead. I was only able to book my hotel couple of days before my departure as I was busy with my prior trip back to the Philippines. Again, I booked via my trusted Agoda.
Upon arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport, the next thing I did was book a shuttle to Siem Reap. I already researched which ideal bus company to take and I decided on Giant Ibis. I've read they have the fastest travel time, is airconditioned and has wifi inside. I know there is another bus which comes with toilet, but wifi is more important to me... :) One-way shuttle trip to Siem Reap costs $14.
I initially thought there was a bus terminal nearby or shuttle kiosk at the airport, but I learned you need to go to the respective bus companies to book tickets. I took a tuktuk to the Giant Ibis office. I was a bit anxious as the scheduled bus departure was in 30 mins and I am not sure how far it is from the airport. Another thing which made me more anxious was the driver convincing me to choose a cheaper bus company. I told him No several times as this cheaper bus has longer travel time, but he kept insisting. I can see he was also frustrated when I finally raised my voice and told him to just take me to Giant Ibis. I felt so guilty afterwards as Cambodians are very polite people. They smile even when simply talking, so I tried hard to control my emotions and speak calmly. Finally, he stopped insisting. I just gave him generous tip to make up for the commission they may get from the other bus company. It was such a big learning experience. I found Cambodians are naturally nice and polite even when they try to scam you.. lol. I think all ended well as my tuktuk driver even stayed at the bus company to help me talk to the people there and to ensure my shuttle booking was fine.
Phnom Penh is a bit laid back and there's not much traffic. It's seems more like a province to me. I can't see any tall or modern buildings, so I have the impression that it is not a very developed city yet. The grandest building I saw was this, which the tuktuk driver told me is their seat of government. I haven't stayed or roamed around most of Phnom Penh so I might be wrong with my impression.
To my relief, I arrived at the shuttle office on time. They also helped me call my hotel in Siem Reap to inform them of my expected time of arrival. They requested the hotel to pick me up in their SR office upon arrival.
The land trip took at least 6 hours travel, but I wasn't able to notice as Giant Ibis shuttle was so comfy. They also served snacks during the trip. I know some would frown at the 6 hours travel time but I didnt mind at all. I was very excited and I was not bored. The sceneries along the way relaxes me. The wifi also kept me busy instagramming and chatting with friends, well, until my phone battery got drained! I was seated beside two nice Korean girls. They were not so chatty as they had hard time speaking in English, but I didn't mind. This allowed me to really appreciate the sceneries, plus I managed to take a quick nap.
It was night time already when we reached Siem Reap. We waited for our pickup at their SR office. I was one of the last to be picked up by my hotel's tuktuk.
I booked at Apsara Centrepole Hotel. They have lots of positive reviews in Agoda and Tripadvisor. Their rates are also within my budget and location is near Pub street. I loved everything about this hotel. It has a mix of victorian and oriental design.
I was very hungry so I decided to check out Pub street which is just across the hotel. It is a less than 5-minute walk.
Pub street was teeming with people and it's lined with restaurant and souvenir shops. There were also a lot food stalls and massage areas along the road.
I chose to dine in Khmer Family restaurant as it has nice interiors and there were lots of people dining in. I ordered Cambodia's national dish Fish Amok, pork chop and a cocktail drink.
Fish Amok is a classic Khmer dish. It is fish in coconut curry, steamed in banana leaves. It also uses chicken or tofu as meat varieties. The fish amok is ok, I was able to finish it considering I have a love & hate relationship with curries. The pork chop was the highlight of my meal. It was delicious! I think it's one of the best porkchops I've ever tasted. I was raving to my friends all night long hehe...
I decided to roam around the street after dinner and was able to buy souvenirs for my friends. I decided to try these roadside massages as they were oh so cheap! The massage was good! It really loosened up my tired and tightened muscles.
I am a Filipina, formerly based in Singapore and is now living permanently in Melbourne. Yet, I am really a global citizen at heart. :)