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kc goes to siem reap

March 4, 2010

The final installment of the Cambodian vacation posts and the most bittersweet.  This was the perfect place to wrap up our vacation.  It was unlike the rest of the country in that it seemed almost seemed like a city-turned-theme park around Angkorian temples.  Ten-fold the number of tourists we had seen elsewhere, but the temples…oh, the temples.  Truly amazing.  And you could honestly spend months there and feel you hadn’t seen it all, but we made the most of our 5 days.  I’ll save you the play-by play and just try to give you a photo snapshot of what we experienced.  But take my word for it when I say that none of these actually do the beauty of these temples (or for that matter this entire country) justice and you just need to see them first hand.

Cambodia calls itself the “kingdom of wonder” and visiting brings you to the conclusion that it is a nickname well-deserved.

Temples

Sunrise over Angkor Wat

Angkor Thom--aka Tomb Raider temple

Aerial shot of Angkor Wat

The many faces of the Bayon

Transportation of choice between temples

One of the many carved asparas

Temple buddha

Kompong Phluuk…not so floating village (better visited during the wet season)

Entering the village

Normally this entire area is flooded

Drying shrimp EVERYwhere

Around town

My monk obsession continued...

Siem Reap at night

Dinner at the famed Meric--stunning

Siem Reap

Hotels:

La Residence d’Angkor: This was our “treat” of the trip.  And what a treat it was.  We went with the garden room, which I think is the best deal.  Beautiful layout, smells amazing (weird, I recognize, but go there and try not to be in love with the smell), a true oasis after a day of dust and temple climbing.  There are so many hotels to choose from here, but if you are looking for luxury and are willing to spend extra, I would go with this hotel over Hotel de la Paix any day (but make sure to make it to Meric–see below).

Restaurants:
Some of the most stand-out and most mediocre meals were had here.  Not surprising given what a tourist hub it was.  Among the stand-outs:

Chamkar: I only wish we had stumbled upon this restaurant earlier.   Amazing vegetarian food.

Meric: Hotel de la Paix is a beautiful hotel and its restaurant offers a stellar 7-course Khmer tasting menu at $30/head.  By Cambodian standards, it’s borderline extortion, but it’s worth every penny.

Blue Pumpkin:  Everyone talks about this ice cream parlor, but for good reason.  I simply couldn’t get enough of the ginger and black sesame ice cream, but the caramel with candied pecans did get it a run for its money.

Viroth’s: Right behind our hotel, served beautifully balanced Khmer food and one mean lime granita.

Cham

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