Friday, 10 May 2013

Siem Reap Part 1: Siem Reap Again?

Siem Reap again?
You can buy money. 
But you can never buy time and youth. 

The return ticket was around RM 455 (KL - Siem Reap). No promotion available. 
But I was so determined to go. 

I am looking forward for two things in Siem Reap. 
One, cycling around Angkor Archeological Center. 
Two, buying Cambodian men's trousers.
I am going to make both happen this time. This trip.

A Night at LCCT
RM 455 was the cheapest return ticket available. But the departure time was super early in the morning  i.e. 6:50 am. Well, super early to me. Super early AirAsia flight carries two possibilities. 

One, it is the cheapest flight available. 
Two, you might have to spend a night at the airport if no one is able to send you there. 

Well in my case, I didn't want to trouble my wife, having to send me and my friend, Herman to the airport early in the morning. So we decided to spend a night there at LCCT. I googled the best way to spend a lovely night at LCCT, just to have some pre-conceived ideas on how sleeping at the low cost terminal would be. 

We took a shuttle bus from KL Sentral for a fee of RM 10 and spent an hour for the journey. 9 pm seemed too early, but we were not sure the last departure time of the last bus from KL Sentral to LCCT. Why take the risk of missing the bus?

Upon arrival at the LCCT around 10 pm, Herman suggested for both of us to perform Isyak prayer at the nearby prayer room. I never knew there was a prayer room outside of the terminal. The prayer room was medium-sized, able to accommodate about 30 people. We immediately picked a spot nearby the electricity source (so we could charge our smart phones). Yeah, we got a perfect spot to spend a night rather than spending a night inside the terminal. Forget Tune Hotel, guys. The cheapest room cost RM198 per night. 

No one chased us out from the prayer room. In fact, by 12 am, there were about 20 people spending their night at the prayer room. 

It was not the coziest place to spend a night. But we survived nonetheless.

650 am. Leaving LCCT on a Jet Plane
The thing I love the most about super early flight is the chance to witness the magnificent transition from night to day. It was one of the sights where you could enjoy the beautiful color composition of the sky from up above. Only from up above. And the cloud seemed so puffy that you wished you could go out and play. 

Gila kan. Maw mati ka...

8:30 am. Arrival in Siem Reap International Airport
The moment we walked out of the arrival terminal, we were greeted by about 20 drivers, each of them holding a piece of A4 papers with their hotels' guests' name written on them. We scanned through the papers among the hopeful faces, wishing one of them could bear our names. But both, us and the drivers became hopeless. None carries our names. Perhaps our driver was on his way. So we decided to wait at a nearby cafe. 

I booked a hotel by the name of Siem Reap Bat Hotel through Agoda, where it clearly mentioned that we were entitled for a free pick up from the Airport. The best thing are for free. A man in a decently dressed suit approached us and offer a taxi for a price of USD 7 but we politely declined.

9:00 am. No One Turned Up
20 minutes passed by and still no one turned up for us. We would not want to let the precious time passed by so I decided to buy a local sim card and give a call to the hotel. The local sim card was Beeline (what was the significant of bee to Cambodia, I do not know... well, as if Maxis and Celcom made sense to the name Malaysia anyway).

I called, and apparently the hotel had forgotten that they were supposed to receive a guests on that day. They apologised and requested for another 20 minutes to search for Tuk Tuk driver for us. We didn't have that much choice but to wait. Instead waiting for nothing, while having our lovely drink, we discussed on the destination of the day and the day after. 

9:15 am. Yay, Tuk Tuk!
15 minutes passed by and as we were figuring out our destination for the day, a local woman approached us with a piece of paper with a Chinese man's name written on it. I shook my head and said that was not our name. Then Herman noticed the name of the hotel - Siem Reap Bat Hotel! We explained to her that we were waiting for pick up from the hotel. She laughed and said perhaps we were the ones they were searching for. 

She led us to a tuk tuk parked nearby, where a man was smiling and greeting us with a welcoming hand gesture. His name was Mr. Vannak. Together, we headed back to the hotel. The woman's name was Suffiyya and she could quickly guess we are Malaysian. I could guess, by the way you speak English, she said. Well I said, in Malaysia, you could find people speaking of four language at once: Macha! (Indian), iced milo (English) tapau (Chinese) satu (Malay). 

Ha... kau ado?

It was a bumpy ride. As you can see, I posted three pictures only as it was difficult for me to get one decent shot with my Canon. I decided to enjoy the views by my own two eyes instead. Fair enough. The route to our hotel was shady, sheltered by tall and shady trees, where their long leaves literally touched the leaves of the trees from the other side of the road. 

It was a pleasant view to see local people cycling bicycle, making their way to school or to their work place. And despite us, being strangers, they smiled and waived back at us - these are rarely the occasion when you are in Malaysia nowadays. I mean, we, Malaysian used to be like that. But I do not know why, as Malaysia grew older, somehow we lost that. 

I saw a hot balloon nearby, yellow and big. It reminded me of a paragraph I read in Lonely Planet, whereby it is the initiatives to build attraction around Angkor Wat. With 15 USD, you can get a ride on the hot balloon to enjoy the view of Angkor Wat and other temples from up above. 

Few minutes later, we passed by a row of shanty shacks, housing numbers of paintings, delicately lined up outside of the house, mostly depicting the beauty of Angkor Wat. I asked Suffiyya, whether those were really paintings, or simply some printed materials. She said, those were really paintings, painted by local talented people to make a decent living. I told her, if that's the case, Cambodia housed super talented artists and painters. 

10:00 Arrival at Siem Reap Bat Hotel
After about 30 minutes of bumpy rides, we arrived at a small hotel, by the side of the road. We were greeted by a friendly guy, who handed us wet towels and an iced orange juice, most refreshing in this kind of weather. 

We made a deal with Mr. Vannak, to bring us to Wat Thmei, Silk Farm and finally the Chong Kneas. All for 15 USD. For two of us. This might not be the cheapest fare available, but to both of us, it was fair enough. 

It was almost afternoon. There was not much time left for us to enjoy the day. But we'll see how, okay?

Till then, 
Hairi Tahir

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2 Nukilan:

dzuchan said...

Mr friend pernh naik sky bus pukul 4.30a.m..kalau tak salah it's available almost 24 hours...
looking foward for ur travelogue sebab i dah simpan angan2 nk kesini..InsyaAllah

Hairi Tahir said...

Oh ye ke. Thanks for the info! But I heard lepas-lepas ni LCCT nak pindah berdekatan KLIA. Not sure. Enjoy your trip at Siem Reap okay. It's a nice place. Makanan halal je lah susah sikit.

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