Cambodian Adventures – Part 1 – Siem Reap

I recently read an article about Australian scientists discovering another Cambodian town (Mahendraparvata) in the Siem Reap area, dating back to even further than Angkor. The article made me reread the story of Angkor Wat so I figured – as out of the blue as it is – it would be a great opportunity to introduce it and Siem Reap – the way I saw it.

First of all, a bit of history. Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire (modern-day Cambodia) back in the 9th century. The word ‘wat’ means temple (just like in the Thai language). Angkor Wat, this enormous originally Hindu temple complex was bulit a bit later, in the early 12th century. The Khmer Empire back than was ruling a great part of South East Asia, including Central Thailand, Southern Vietnam and part of Laos.

I won’t go into the countless existing theories why and how the Khmer Empire fell – but the influence on the South East Asian region was smashing. Angkor Wat since been used as a Buddhist Temple (from the 14th century to modern days) and is the only temple that was never completely abandoned throughout the long centuries of history.

And that is where out story starts. We were having an amazing time on Phi-Phi Island, Thailand, when the monsoon arrived and had to leave quickly. Wasn’t sure what to do, where to go, then after consulting with my world-traveller and all time travel advisor brother, he told us to take a bus from Krabi back to Bangkok and then go to Siem Reap, Cambodia. And that was exactly what we did, and at least we had another day in Bangkok, we were hoping we’d like it more for the second time.

Got the tickets on Khaosan Road, and hopped on the bus to Siem Reap, which was about 12-15 hours if I remember correctly. Once reaching the border, we had to get off and manage papers for the visa (20 USD per person). I remember the bus driver telling us that we should take Riel (Cambodians’ currency specifically for themselves…) out using that one and only cash machine that was on the border, as once getting to Siem Reap we can only take USD out. USD was the money of tourists there… A bottle of water may cost 2000 Riel, which is half a Dollar, but for tourists it’d be 1 USD as… why would you pay half a dollar when you can pay a whole?
Anyways, so we took out the worth of 5000 Thai Bahts which was around 650.000 KHR.

A photo of the magnificent Siamese border and the Cambodian border with Khmer patterns

I will never forget our taxi ride to the town of Siem Reap, sharing the taxi with a lovely married couple and their 1,5 year-old son. The Scandinavian mom was very young (she was only a few years older than me, back then I was 19) and the New Yorker dad got sacked from his IT job and he didn’t want to return to the corporate world just yet… so they figured, what would be the best time to travel the world together? Might sound crazy with a 6 months old baby… but the little dude was the calmest kid I’ve ever met, friendly, open and would eat literally anything. What an adventure for that family! A true inspiration to me, sharing their love for travels and planning on becoming a mom way before 25.

Now, as the monsoon we got caught in on Phi-Phi and Koh Lanta was in Cambodia a few days before (raining for 4 days straight) the town of Sieam Reap was completely flooded.

Found a guy with a tuk-tuk who told us he knows cheap accommodation. We got a huge double room for 65.00 KHR./10 GBP, everything was cheaper than Thailand. That evening we headed to town for drinks and the night market where we bought a stunning painting. The nightlife was great, spent all of our evenings/nights on Pub street, where we could chat to the locals and other backpackers in nice restaurants and even nicer bars with SUCH delicious cocktails. And not to forget the ‘happy pizza’ which is for the adventurous travellers… Be aware though, walking along Pub street you will find shady people walking to you asking whether you’d like ‘massage with a happy ending’ or any kind of illegal substances. Under no circumstances you should play with that in Asia, even if they seem extremely easy to get hold of. We tried the ‘happy pizza’ which was pizza with weed on top, it was ok but definitely wouldn’t do that again. There is a greater risk, and the experience is not any better or different than in Europe.


One thing I noticed in Cambodia: while Thailand was full of American and Australian travellers, Siem Reap was full of Russian people. Most locals immediately started talking to me in Russian…

This was the dinner on our very last evening in Cambodia. The pumpkin curry was our shared appetiser which was perfect as I like to eat something sweet before the main dish, so it would help bring out the savoury tastes later on. Greg tried frog legs with lemon pepper and chilli dipping… We both did like it a lot, never eaten frog meat before and it was nicely moist and tasteful. Reminded me of chicken meat, BUT (most cases I dislike chicken) was not neutral or tasteless… The only problem was the very little meat on the bones!

The main dishes were two Cambodian currys, the first one was a with lemongrass and other veggies and second was HEAVENLY morning glory curry… The cuisine was only a tiny bit similar to the thai currys and dishes, they do not use chili or coconut milk as widely.

Next part of this series will be only on Angkor Wat, stories and background info that we were provided with by the local tour guide.

Climbing Snowdon

Never would have thought I’d come come back with a tan… Sunshine and 20 degrees? How many times does that happen in the UK? And most importantly: in Wales? I checked the Beddgelert weather for the following week: rain rain rain. Must thank Someone up there!

Just would like to emphasize, the weather we had was bare luck, if you visit Northern Wales once, don’t imagine it will look exactly like on my photos. And take warm clothes even up to Snowdon as well – it gets quite cool and windy.

So we left on Friday early afternoon, was hoping to avoid heavy traffic which – of course – did not work out, so from Cambridge to Beddgelert spent a good 7 hours on the road. It was very very dull on the motorway, but it grew exciting once we got into Wales and had something to stare at – sheep, unrealistically green grass, sheep, mountains, oh and even more sheep. Not kidding, they are everywhere! On the top of Snowdon, at the campsite… everywhere! We woke up and went to bed to the sound of them. Not complaining, but I have never seen and heard so many of them! It’s become a part of Wales’ charm.

First stop was a free wild camping site, which looked pretty okay in my opinion… 🙂 The valley of Nant Gwynant.Image

Next morning, woke up around 7ish and took some photos of the little creek near the campsite. ImageTook a shower (was impressed that even free campsites have one) and off we went to the Pont Bethania Car park where we left the car for the day. The Watkin path Greg chose (more on that later, it ended in tears…) was light walking at the beginning, through a forest:

ImageThen got a bit steeper with the cutest little waterfalls on the right.


Everyone seemed to ignore them – just rushing up to the summit. Well, we did a little picnic and had breakfast there – in the company of sheep of course.Image

A few shots of ascending, still quite the beginning:


After a half an hour it became much steeper so had to stop every 20 minutes to rest and drink water. Oh, and also to put on some sun cream. The view got nicer and nicer and we could even see the shore in the distance.Image

In the picture on the right, you can see the summit of Snowdon, that was the point when we realized it’s already quite close, but there is a SERIOUSLY steep scree slope at the end, to reach the top. That was the point where I said – Greg I can’t do that. With a reason, as in 2006 a person died there and many have been injured. We had an arguement before, as I wanted to go on a different path – did my research and that was a medium difficulty one with spectacular views as well. Greg said no, let’s choose a heavy mountain walking one – challenge ourselves! Well, I am always up for a challenge, I don’t mind if it is tiring and difficult – but I sometimes have problems with height. It is interesting though, as sometimes I am completely fine, other times I am terrified standing close to the edge. Well this day was one of those fearful days unfortunately. These were taken before that slope. Greg is looking over Llyn Llydaw (Llyn means lake) and Eva is still happy… well not for long, I assure you.ImageThe only photo I took of the slope is this. It was ok at the beggining and then just got worse and worse, full of slippery scree, I didn’t feel safe for a moment. It took us about an hour to reach the summit, partly because I broke down crying at least twice. ImageOnce we got to the top, it was alright, but I was still shaking a bit. The view was spectacular so in 15 minutes I was completely fine, my biggest problem was that an English girl started posing with two huge bars of Cadbury chocolate with fruits and nuts and I wanted some of it SO badly!


On the way down, we decided on the Pyg Track as wanted to check out a different route and the lakes as well. And of course, there was no way in hell I would go back on the Watkin Path. A few photos of descending:Image

ImageOnce we got to Pen Y Pass, got a cab and realized we only have 15 GBP cash. Ouch. So he took us to a one of the lakes that was pretty close to the car park. ‘Pretty close’ meaning 2-3 miles away. Needless to say, we were COMPLETELY knackered once finally got to the car. After that, we drove to Criccieth which is already on the coast. I will include the campsite in the second part, as we took the photos the next morning. I would go back there anytime, a quiet campsite with sheep, gorgeous softest grass and an astonishing view…For 18 GBP a night. I will include more details in the next post!