Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Siem Reap with Gusto (Part 4)

Having covered most of the must-sees, I decided to slow down. I got up late and had just about enough time to tour the National Museum before closing time. I would recommend a visit here prior to a trip to the temples for a thorough explanation of what you’ll be seeing at the sites.

Charged with nothing but brunch (chocolatine and coffee), I was ready for dinner by the time I got out of the museum. I wanted to treat myself to what is considered one of the best restaurants in Siem Reap, Abacus.

Siem Reap with Gusto (Part 3)

I dig sunsets. I suppose sunrises too but I don’t usually get up early enough to see one. I wanted to enjoy the sunset in Siem Reap and I thought a sunset Quad Ride would be a good idea.

A guide in a motorcycle led my way through villages to the verdant rice fields. Along the way, we passed children waving at us as we went, along with herds of cattle and water buffalos. The scenes are familiar to me, having spent much time in the countryside back home.

Siem Reap with Gusto (Part 2)

While Siem Reap has an abundance of temples, I wanted to devote no more than a day for my temple run. Too much heat and sun gives me enfeebling migraines and I know myself enough as a traveler to not want to court them while I’m on the road.

So I went to Tah Prohm, Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. Each had a charm of its own. In the echo chambers of Tah Prohm, I beat my chest and made wishes, following the steps of devotees from centuries ago. I lined up for a requisite pose before the imposing roots of the silver cotton tree. I posed nose to nose against one of hundreds of Brahma’s faces at Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom. Then of course I crossed the massive hallways of Angkor Wat, reliving the Ramayana in its intricate bas-reliefs. I climbed to the top of the temple to savor the view. I managed to sneak a peek at and a snapshot of the saffron-robed monks. And just before my limbs melted in the heat, I returned to my hotel room and rested until dinner called.

Siem Reap with Gusto (Part 1)

I went to Siem Reap with a cursory (read: zero) knowledge of things Khmer. I was armed with a loose itinerary that allowed plenty of room for randomness and spontaneity.

I booked myself a fine accommodation at Heritage Suites, which offered tasteful décor, impeccable cuisine, and a cozy room with soft, plushy bed. With only 26 rooms and suites, it looked more like the vacation home of a rich, elegant aunt than a resort, its cluster of bungalows discretely tucked behind gardens near the pool.

I was picked up from the airport by what looked like a turn-of-the-century Mercedes Benz. Fifteen minutes later, I reached my destination. It was a little past midnight owing to the delayed flight. The restaurant was closed. So was room service. So I helped myself to the honey Dijon mustard Kettle Chips from the mini-bar.


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