Oversea, Travel

Siem Reap Day 1: Khmer Kitchen Restaurant & Artisans d’Angkor (Part 1)


Prologue

I recently backpacked to Siem Reap, Cambodia for 4 days, 4 nights during Chinese New Year [21st February-25th February 2010 – yes it spells 5 days but the fact that I was on an early plane home (read: 8am GMT+7) on 25th mean I only have 4 days].

Ok here’s the shocking news: I was ‘templed out’ way before I step in the plane. LOL What a joke ya??

Unlike my other trips, I didn’t plan my Siem Reap itinerary until the very last moment due to some reasons. It was a week before the departure day that I started frantically googling and reading all about the temples, things to do, thing to see, etc. I was looking at so many photos of the temples in the web and reading so many travelogues of Siem Reap until… until… I was templed out! (read: sick of looking at temples) I decided not to read anything more about Siem Reap 2 days before departure as I was getting nausea from looking at ANGKOR TEMPLES!. Will tell you later how I fare during the temples visit. Hehe

I witnessed a stunning deep orange sunrise during the morning Air Asia flight to Siem Reap. What a way to start your day ya?

Sunrise On AirAsia Flight To Siem Reap, Cambodia
I thought of what Angkor Wat would look like with this stunner as the backdrop. And I thought ‘hey, never mind if I don’t see the sun rises at Angkor Wat, this is impressive enough.’ –> mistake!!!

There was a minor complication inside Siem Reap airport. We need to fill a custom form in order to ‘get out’ of the airport. Thank God we were stuck only for about 10 minutes… I thought it was going to be longer.

When we stepped outside the airport, there were a group of Cambodians surrounding the exit. They’re there for picking up tourist to their respective hotels. Very easily I noticed my huge name on the signage of Hotel 89.

This is our tuk-tuk driver, Dee (not his real name. I made that up as I couldn’t pronounce his name).

My Tuk-Tuk Driver @ Siem Reap, Cambodia
We’re riding along Airport Road.

Notice the numbered vest he’s wearing? That’s the tuk-tuk driver’s license number. Always go for these official tuk-tuk drivers as they are reliable and safe.

About 20 minutes later, we arrived at our ‘orange’ accommodation. I was a little surprise of the location because I didn’t expect this cute budget hotel to be situated at a dusty 1 lane road. Not really a problem… just that I imagined it to be on a main road.

As soon as we stepped in the wood-theme lobby, we were greeted with warm smile from the staffs & manager of Hotel 89. Before we can utter another word, refreshment was served to us: cold ginger drinks (YUM YUM) and cold towel (a savior! we get them every time we return to hotel; nice) to refresh our body. The staffs also explained to us the various transportation packages available for the temples escapade.

After resting for a good 2 hours, we decided to check the town out. Because the weather is so hot, we choose to travel by tuk-tuk instead of walking (and throughout our trip!). I figured it would take about 5 minutes by walking but as I said the weather is so hot hot hot. Dee would be our ‘personal’ tuk-tuk driver during our 4 days stint in Siem Reap.

First thing first we need to fill our tummy with food. And what better way to start our gastronomic adventure in Cambodia than the local Khmer cuisine.

This is Khmer Kitchen Restaurant. The one that we patronized is located beside Pub Street Alley. There are 3 locations in total all within walking distance.

Khmer Kitchen Restaurant @ Siem Reap
Not even a soul except us and another lady. That’s because it isn’t lunch time yet. Hahaha

Khmer Kitchen Restaurant @ Siem Reap
Stir-fry vegetable tofu @ US$3 (L) and amok fish @ US$3 (R)
Rice is complimentary. We also ordered 2 glasses of carrot juice @ US$1.50/glass.
Total: US$9 (~RM30) expensive!
Two of us couldn’t even finish the meal. What a waste. Aiya. If only I can tapau back. Hehe

Verdict: The Amok Fish, a famous Khmer cuisine is a creamy, non spicy steamed curry. I kinda like it. Not a big fan of the vegetable but tofu is good. Our carrot juice tasted funny… not sure how to explain. Hmm

After our hearty lunch we proceed to Artisan d’Angkor, workshop that showcases Cambodian craftsmanship like silk painting, stone & wood carving, lacquering, etc.

Silk Painting @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Silk painting.
I wanted to buy one but they are too expensive. ๐Ÿ˜›

Lacquered Gold Statue @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Lacquered gold statue.
Lovely!

Cat @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Saw this cat (kinda posing for me) with the lovely backdrop at the lacquering room.

Lacquered Panel @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Lacquered panel.
I like this too.

Tool For Bronze Making @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap Tool For Bronze Making @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
These are the tools used for making bronze boxes.

Bronze Making @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Hard at work.

Elephant Stone Carving @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Elephant stone carving.
How cute is that?

Elephant Stone Carving @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Need lots of patience. ๐Ÿ™‚

Stone Carving Workshop @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Another part of the stone carving workshop.
This place reminds me of my primary school. Haha

Wood Carving @ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Finally we’re in the wood carving workshop.

Wood Carved Statue@ Artisan d'Angkor, Siem Reap
Masterpiece. Don’t you think so?

After that we went to Artisan d’Angkor’s retail shop which is just next door. The arts & crafts are beautiful no doubt but we’re mainly there for the air-cond. Haha It was freaking hot!!! I ended up buying a cotton tee. The rest are too $$.

I actually wanted to book the free shuttle to Silk Farm but was told the tour is going to take half day so I had to let it go. Next time then.

Just around then we felt uncomfortable in our stomach. Must be the carrot juice we consumed earlier. We decided to head back to our orange accommodation to chill plus it was really really HOT. So the logical thing to do is sleep. Hehe

To be continued…

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29 Comments

  • Reply fufu March 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    wow wow wow…. angkor wat!!one of my favourite places!!
    wish to go there again ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Jason March 23, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    What happened to the color in the third picture?

  • Reply Che-Cheh March 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Fufu, yes I wanna go again. The place is so laid back ya.

    Jason, overexposed cikgu. I thought the color of the 4th picture look funny. Aiya lazy wanna change liao. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Reply satkuru March 24, 2010 at 9:33 am

    missed siem reap. i remembered the bunch of us camwhoring away at Artisan dโ€™Angkor ๐Ÿ˜› too. i totally agree with you that the things are kinda $$$. i ended up with a bag of tea leaves ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Reply Jason March 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Forth woh, http://www.flickr.com/photos/64213127@N00/4456419693/

    Exposure is fine, but not the colors. Hmm…

  • Reply Che-Cheh March 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Satkuru, I didn’t see people camwhore while I was there. Haha And I didn’t expect to come back that poor. You bought tea leaves at Artisans? Old Market is cheaper.

    Jason, ya the color something wrong. For that I changed the white balance from ‘as shot’ to ‘auto’. Anyway I have change the picture to original back… which is errr yellowish. Also changed the 3rd pict to original.

  • Reply Dawn March 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    One day, my turn will come to visit this place. My sister said after her trip to Siem Reap, she was broke!

  • Reply tekkaus March 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    You been there and came back already? Wow…awesome. I love the cat shot! Very beautiful. ;D

  • Reply Che-Cheh March 25, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Dawn, yeah one day ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha I spent over my budget.

    Tekkaus, yup. Went there during CNY. Me too I love the cat one.

  • Reply keeyit March 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    1.) back packing alone? Keng.. I do not dare to do so..
    2.) Nice sunrise view from the flight. I did not see any sunrise and sunset too in Angkor Wat. A waste hor.. But no choice timing not ngam.
    3.) Food at there really expensive all in USD.
    4.) Angkor wat, only templesssss… I visited temples for 3 days too. 1st day feel excited, 2nd day start to feel tired, 3rd day langsung no mood to climb the temples liao.. hahaha..

  • Reply Che-Cheh March 27, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Keeyit,

    1. No la. Not alone.
    2. Yeah timing not ngam for me too.
    3. I thought transportation also expensive… since the town is so small nia.
    4. I went less than 3 days actually. Haha

  • Reply lechua March 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    hiya! yay a post on siem reap… excellent photos of artisan d’angkor – really takes hardwork doesn’t it the craftsmanship! what camera/lens do u use btw?

  • Reply lechua March 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    & the sunrise… wow.. better than the sunrise i saw at angkor wat! where did u capture the shot from?

  • Reply jam March 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Artisan d’Angkor looks like a nice place. Sure will visit this place in my coming Siem Reap trip as my hostel is just situated next to it!

  • Reply jam March 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    How much is the cost per day to hire a tuk tuk?

  • Reply Siem Reap Day 1: Angkor Temples – Preah Khan & South Gate & North Gate of Angkor Thom (Part 2) | Che-Cheh March 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    […] Entry: Siem Reap Day 1: Khmer Kitchen Restaurant & Artisans d’Angkor (Part 1) Next […]

  • Reply Che-Cheh March 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Lechua, yeah gimme 1 week and I don’t think I can even finish the painting/carving.

    I use Nikon D80 and kit lens 18-135mm/3.5-5.5G. I did bring my 50mm but I only used once. Haha

    The sunrise photo was taken on the plane. Lucky me yeah?

    Jam, let me guess. You’re staying at Golden Temple Villa?

    Price per day for a tuk-tuk is US$13. Just bargain if the driver demand for US$15. Make sure you bargain at the start of the trip ya. I don’t think we can get US$10 now. But if you do, remember to tell me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply Cecil Lee April 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Ha, finally I can read your travel to Siem Reap after so long ๐Ÿ™‚
    Looks like you were taking your sweet time relaxing there instead of sites after sites… a good way of traveling ๐Ÿ™‚
    Nice shots and great stories!

  • Reply Che-Cheh April 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Cecil Lee, you are right. This is actually a ‘chilling’ trip. No pressure on ‘I must visit all the temples’. Haha

  • Reply foongpc April 6, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Yay! I’m going to Angkor Wat with Jam in July! So your posts will be a good guide to us! Thanks for sharing!

    You don’t have a guide to show you around? Just a tuk tuk driver? But he does not act as a guide right? Can’t be a driver and guide at the same time?

  • Reply Che-Cheh April 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Foongpc, July is raining month but that’s good at least it won’t be hot hot hot. Yup a tuk-tuk driver doesn’t act as a guide. There’s a rule against it. I didn’t hire a guide as I prefer to explore the temples myself.

  • Reply jam April 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    No, I will be staying at Aspara ST Lodge near Golden Temple too. I managed to rent a car for USD30 per day for small circles and USD65 per day for big circles.

  • Reply Che-Cheh April 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Jam, hmm the US$65 for big circuit is rather expensive. Your visiting month shouldn’t be very hot… there would be rain. Why not hire tuk-tuk? That is if you want to save la. From the transportation rate I got from Hotel89, there is no price different for car whether you visit small or big circuits. Only additional charges if you want to go to Banteay Srei, Kbla Spean, Phnom Kulen, Beng Mealea and Koh Ker.

  • Reply jam April 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Some corrections here. USD65 is for Banteay Srei, Kbla Spean and the rest. I will see if I need tuk tuk or car. I heard Siem Reap is very dusty. I would not want dust all over my face and body if I take tuk tuk.

  • Reply Che-Cheh April 13, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Jam, from the hotel’s rate for car transport to Banteay Srei is US$5, Kbal Spean US$10… the rest rather expensive… about USD25 onwards.

    Normally what we do while travelling in the tuk-tuk is to cover our face with a scarf if the road is a bit dusty. Not a big problem.

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