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Posts tagged ‘angkor wat’

exploring your inner Angelina Jolie ;)

You can’t go to Siem Reap without encountering Angelina Jolie.  Likely not in the flesh but her spirit is alive and well… and I think she does have a lot of affection for Cambodia so I was OK with all the Tomb Raider promotion 😉

You can skip the Tomb Raider cocktail but DO go to Pub Street, as much to eat as to drink.  You may discover the music volume is at its best on the street instead of in the clubs but maybe I just care about my hearing too much 😉  You should definitely have a beer at Angkor What? because it’s how you will imagine Cambodia – cheap beer, imported staff and weird graffiti (you will be able to hear the music from the bar across the street from that distance!)

https://www.facebook.com/angkor.whatbar You should of course drink some Angkor beer because, hey, you are in Cambodia!  And you should check out Pub Street in Siem Reap at least for a night but remember to see some temples too 😉

Of course, you have to go to Angkor Wat…. We will talk about it… but it is most likely your heart will be captured by a more underdog temple… there are a lot of temples! I should have likely planned more but I am working too much to have much time to obsessively research the travel destinations so I am generally improvising.  Improvising is not so bad if you do a few basics pre-trip.  I make sure I have some idea what to do and book a very well-researched hotel if I think I am going to need help getting around.cambodia 2 029

As already noted, I can’t say enough wonderful things about Shinta Mani so it was easy to just put myself in their capable hands… and that’s how I met Tiger.


cambodia 3 108I would recommend starting early and finishing before lunch to maximize the experience.  And you definitely need to check out Ta Prohm… or, as you will start referring to it, the Tomb Raider temple 🙂


When you get there, you will be tempted to start acting like a video game character J  It is wonderfully atmospheric – a bit swampy, with the jungle threatening to overtake the buildings.

The other temple that will blow your mind is Bayon.  Another crazy aristocrat possibly on drugs… but the faces will follow you and pop up in your dreams.cambodia 3 177


I am now in Amsterdam trying to force my way through jet lag so we may drift back to Europe… but there is still more I want to say about Cambodia so I am sure more adventures will find their way into these pages…

For now, all I can say is stay at Shinta Mani, ask them to book a tuk-tuk temple tour with Tiger and embrace your inner Angelina Jolie – but don’t mess up the temples with bullets 😉

is Cambodia the new Thailand? ;)

Of course, your best plan of action may be to make like me and quickly dispense with Bangkok and get on a flight to Siem Reap!  If nothing else, you will be able to tell people you are going to Cambodia.

A few people will have been – and they will tell you that you will love it (that will prove to be very accurate J).  Most people will still be channelling the Dead Kennedys even if they don’t know the lyrics to “Holiday in Cambodia.”

But, of course, they will just be a couple of decades out of touch… I, on the other hand, have been dreaming of Cambodia for a couple of decades.  I don’t know what took me so long!  Working all the time and going nowhere exotic…

But of course that has all changed in the last five years as I resolved to quit postponing all those “trips of a lifetime”.  Angkor Wat certainly was one of them.

For me, though, getting to Angkor Wat was much more personal.  Over twenty years ago, I had been in the hill tribes near Chiang Mai wondering if I was going to be randomly killed by the Khmer Rouge and hearing about the wonders of Angkor Wat while settling for Sukothai as it was still risky and complicated to cross over the border to Cambodia.

But things were changing and I knew I would get there.  In 2013, I gathered, going to Cambodia was no big deal so I booked a hotel, found out how to get a visa, made sure I had a flashlight, scored some malaria tablets and braced for the weather.

And Cambodia turned out to be Claridges… you just need to know where to stay 😉

shinta mani

restaurant – note swings

There is really only one place to stay when you come to Angkor Wat (unless you are on a tight budget – you can definitely do it cheap too and it will still be wonderful).  But if you can afford a decent night’s hotel room in the developed world, you will live like a princess in Siem Reap.

resort pool

resort pool

My room cost about $300/night (including all the crazy taxes) but it was palatial so you can spend less and still have a great time.  I stayed in the Shinta Mani Club where the rooms are larger.  They now have a sister property across the street, Shinta Mani Resort.  As a guest, you can spend time in the public facilities of both.


shinta mani

lap pool shinta mani club

For $15, someone will come and collect you from the airport.  Dan started my visit on a high note.  He told me Shinta Mani was the number one hotel in Siem Reap.  I knew he was biased – but after six nights there, I can’t say he was wrong 🙂

The level of service is astonishing – on par with very few other places I’ve stayed (it really is a Cambodian version of Claridges).  There is a lap pool at the Club, a big pool at the resort, bar and restaurant facilities at both, a spa… and gorgeous spaces that make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean.

I still wasn’t healthy when I arrived so my first evening was low key.  I had some lovely food in the hotel restaurant and had an enthusiastic, charming hotel staff member organize an Angkor Wat tour on my behalf.

leaving the hotel

siem reap river

The hotel really is so wonderful it’s tempting to just hole up there and never see a temple… but that would be wrong!  And then I wouldn’t have anything to write about 😉

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