Experience · Travel

Siem Reap Trip Journal – Day 3 ( Artisans D’Angkor – Angkor National Museum – Floating Village )

After a tiring day visiting temples in Angkor city, the 3rd day we decided to do some relaxing activity. After breakfast, we met our remorge driver in front of the hotel and headed to Artisans d’Angkor.

Artisans d’Angkor is a handicraft workshop center. They have workshops for wood carving, stone carving, silver plated, fabric painting and so on. They are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm and free entrance. Once we arrived there, someone welcomed us and became our tour guide for the entire stay. And the great thing is it was free of charge! Yes, they also provided free guided tour in our language.

It was very interesting and fascinating to see the process of crafting the product. They are very talented indeed. There were a lot of questions popped up in my head, mainly about “how did they do it?! how did they have such an inspiration?!”. For a person who can’t create any art, these things are always amaze me. It such an amazing trip to this place! Please take a look of some pictures I took there πŸ™‚

Wood Carving Artisan d'Angkor Siem Reap Cambodia
Wood Carving
Step by step wood carving Artisan d'angkor cambodia
Step by step of how they do wood carving
Step by step wood carving Artisan d'angkor cambodia
Using a metal version as a model for wood carving
Stone Carving
From a block of stone to a beautiful statue
Stone carving for Temple Restoration project
Stone carving for Temple Restoration project
Elephant stone carving artisan d'angkor siem reap cambodia
Elephant stone carving (model & work-in-process)
silver craft artisan d'angkor siem reap cambodia
Silver plating
step by step artisan d'angkor cambodia
Step-by-step process. An amazing end product!
Silk Fabric painting artisan d'angkor cambodia
Silk painting. Look at that level of detail!

After we finished visiting all their workshops, we arrived at the shop where they sell their product. The shop is pretty big with a lot of product from every workshop. I enjoyed strolling around the shop and adored the pretty stuff. Make sure you make time to visit this place if you like handicraft. Happy Shopping!

Next place we visited was Angkor National Museum. Another fascinating place to visit! The entrance fee is US$12 for adult. We had to leave our bag at the counter and they gave us a small bag to put our wallet and phone (and camera for me). Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photo in most rooms so my camera had no use there.

Bag Angkor National Museum Siem Reap Cambodia
Small bag for our stuff

When we entered the area, I had a low expectation of this museum. Thankfully I was wrong! This museum is a must-visit for a history lover or an art lover. There are total 9 galleries in Angkor National Museum and my favorite is the Exclusive Gallery which has 1000 Buddha Images. I didn’t count them, of course.. but there are many of Buddha statues in that gallery. All different kind of Buddha. Amazing images. Visit their website to have a sneak peek on how does the gallery look like and to get to know other information. Some people recommends visiting the museum before visiting Angkor Wat, but I think visiting it after Angkor Wat also can give you insight of what you’ve seen at the temple. It might answer your question about the temple as well, if you have any.

Angkor National Museum entrance to Galleries
Angkor National Museum entrance to Galleries

Our last destination for the day was floating village by the lake. It took around 42 mins from the city by car, or about 1 hour by remorge. Sitting on the remorge for an hour was quite a journey. The wind blew so hard on our face but the good thing was it made the weather less hot πŸ˜€ (although I was afraid I might catch a cold lol). I think it even rain that time..

On the way to Floating Village

We stopped by at the ticket counter to buy our entrance ticket. We paid for US$23 per person for the ticket. Quite expensive but we had no complaint since we got our own boat with noone else around. Lovely private trip πŸ˜€ If you need to go to the bathroom, this is the time because there will be no more bathroom after this point. After we got our ticket, we continued our journey.

We boarded on our boat and went to Floating Village. I wished our guide, Mr Bun Rong, was with us. He can speak English very well. Floating Village is not my favorite place to go. Not because of the view but because I’m scared being on a boat πŸ˜… I don’t like to get on a boat that is shake so much. This boat was actually not bad, but whenever we passed by another boat it would shake because of the wave. Thankfully, I was busy enough taking photos so the trip was not too bad for me. Although I must say it is better to go there near sunset time. For the other time, the view is just like a normal floating village, no special lighting πŸ˜€ The villagers have to live and do their daily life from boat to boat. Temples and schools are on top of water as well.

After about 30 mins boat ride, we arrived at sunset point. It was an open space with a lot of other boats around. They were also waiting for sunset like us. We stopped by at one spot and just waited there. There was a small boat approaching us and turned out she was selling drinks and snacks! πŸ˜„

Drink seller on boat!

It was a bit cloudy near sunset time so the sky was not as we expected πŸ˜” There was no orange sky in the horizon, but at least we could still see some yellow-ish and magnificent sky. Ah~~ I love sunset! We enjoyed it until the sun almost gone then decided to head back because I didn’t want to go back too late.

Beautiful floating village at sunset
Sunset on the boat at Tonle Sap Lake

Thank you for reading, my story! Have you been to any of these places? What do you think about them? Let me know in the comment πŸ™‚ Bye for now! See you on day 4.

Selfie on boat floating village siem reap
Experience · Travel

Siem Reap Trip Journal – Day 2 (Angkor Wat – Bayon – Ta Prohm – The Temple Massage – Happy Pizza)

*** First of all, very sorry for the very late post for this day 2 journal. I will not go missing in action again! πŸ˜€ You will find some of the details are missing because I forgot about it already. Sorry! But I hope you still can enjoy the reading~

The plan was to wake up at 3.30am. Of course, I failed.. I woke up at 3.45am. Close enough though. I prepared everything for the trip; umbrella, water, power bank and cable, camera + back up battery, and camera charger. By 4.30am, we already at the lobby and ready for Angkor Wat. The hotel staff gave us our breakfast in boxes, then we headed out to our tuk-tuk. Mr. Bun Rong was already there and ready for us. He greeted us and told us to not use the phone on the way to Angkor Wat Ticket Office because it’s dangerous. We had to buy the ticket first before going to the site. We followed his instructions and just sat quietly. At 4.30am, inside the running tuktuk, sleepy, with no protection from wind. It was quite chill. The trip to Ticket Office was about 20 minutes. The streets were dark and not many vehicles around, only some other tuktuks on the same way.

When I saw a bright building with many buses, cars, and tuk-tuks, I knew we have reached our destination. There were so many people inside the ticket office. They were queueing at the ticket counters which were still closed by the time we came. There is a sign on each counter depending on how many days you want to spend in Angkor Wat. Since we only want to buy a 1-day ticket, we had to look for a counter with a “1-day” sign. My friend wanted a coffee to start her day so we went back to the coffee shop near the entrance. But then, I was thinking since I didn’t want coffee maybe I should just stay there and queue for both of us. And so I did. I went back to the counter that we left, which now has more people in the queue.

At 5 am, they opened the counter and started selling the ticket. Finally, the queue moved! They took a photo for ticketing purposes. Therefore, for a group of people, everyone needs to be present when they buy the ticket. It was almost our turn but my friend was not with me yet. Luckily, she came back right on time when the officer called me. They took our photos and we had to wait for the printed ticket. The ticket has my face on it πŸ˜€

Angkor Wat Ticket – 1 day pass

After we got our tickets, we continued our journey to Angkor Wat. When we got on the remorge, the driver told us that we now can use our phone because it is safe. The area near Pub Street is dangerous because a lot of robbery cases before, meanwhile on the way to Angkor Wat (after the ticket office) is safer because there are many police officers in the area.

After another 20 minutes ride, we arrived at the check-in area. An officer checked our tickets and let us passed through. Our driver brought us to the entrance and told us that he will meet us back there in 2 hours. We followed the flow of people to enter Angkor Wat. We walked through a floating bridge and keep walking until we see the magnificent Angkor Wat. I checked my app to see which direction the sun will come. There are 2 areas to watch the sunrise. From the entrance, you can go either to the left or right area. We chose to go to the right side. There were many people already waiting there.

It didn’t take long until we finally see the sun is coming slowly from behind the temple. It was a bit cloudy at that time but the shadow and lights were still amazing. I tried taking photos with my camera on different settings and hope I got at least one decent photo. After we satisfied with thousands of photos that we took, we continued walking. We stopped by a moment to eat our breakfast. When we were eating, we saw the opposite area of our spot (which is the left area from entrance) and we saw A LOT of people there! Apparently, that area is more famous for photo taking than the other one. I was curious to see what is the difference and how good is it taking a photo from that area, but then I was too lazy to compete with all those people.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
People waiting for Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Popular spot to take sunrise photo

Angkor Wat is really a must-see place in Siam Reap. The huge building, the historical story behind it, the magnificent design. Everything about it is amazing. We didn’t have a tour guide so we just walked around by ourselves and once in a while we eavesdropped an explanation from nearby tour guide πŸ˜€ We also went to the tallest tower inside (prepare your legs for a long journey up on a steep stairs!).

Sculptures in Angkor Wat
View from the tallest tower in Angkor Wat
View from the tallest tower in Angkor Wat

If you like historical sites (or just photography and selfies enthusiast), you will spend 2 hours here easily. There are so many amazing views, sculptures and spot that is photogenic (a.k.a instagrammable :D). When we finished looking around, it was around 8 am and we rushed to the parking lot to meet our remorge driver.

The bridge to enter and leave Angkor Wat area
The bridge to enter and leave Angkor Wat area
Angkor Wat after the sunrise
One of many photos I took of Angkor Wat

The driver took us to another temple in that area. Angkor Wat is only a part of the big area of temples in Siem Reap. There are many other temples and they also have their charm! Even on the road in between those temples, you can find beautiful sculptures.

Sculptures on a bridge in Angkor Wat SIem Reap
Sculptures on a bridge in Angkor Wat

Bayon Temple

The next temple we visited was Bayon Temple. I love this temple. I think it is very pretty and unique. The area of the temple is not as huge as Angkor Wat because Bayon is just one of the temple in Angkor Thom. Bayon is a temple of a thousand faces. We can see the faces on each tower. For some people might be scary though..

The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak.[3] The temple has two sets of bas-reliefs, which present a combination of mythologicalhistorical, and mundane scenes. The main conservatory body, the Japanese Government Team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as “the most striking expression of the baroque style” of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat

Welcome to Bayon Temple Angkor Thom
Bayon Temple Angkor Thom Siem Reap Cambodia
Bayon Temple Angkor Thom Siem Reap Cambodia
Giant Buddha Statue Bayon Temple Angkor Thom
Giant Buddha Temple in front of Bayon Temple

Baphuon Temple

The Baphuon (Khmer: αž”αŸ’αžšαžΆαžŸαžΆαž‘αž”αžΆαž–αž½αž“) is a temple at AngkorCambodia. It is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain[1]:103 built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II[2]:103 dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style with intricate carvings covering every available surface.[3] The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall.

Baphuon Temple Angkor Cambodia
Baphuon Temple

A beautiful temple with the tower of Bronze and more than 10 chambers at its base. I didn’t climb up because I was tired already (weak!) and I planned to save some stamina for the next temple.

On the way to meet our driver, we passed by an area with some giant trees around. Remember to always pay respect to everything in the temple area. This goes for the tree as well. I excused myself before I took a photo with it or when I stand near it. I don’t know how is it in another country but in my country (or at least in my hometown) it is believed that the bigger a tree the stronger spirit that lives there. Therefore we can’t do or say something disrespectful if we don’t want to bear the consequences.

Giant Tree
Elephant temple Angkor Cambodia
Elephant temple
Labyrinth Temple Angkor Cambodia
Climbed up to see this sculpture closely
Remorge ride driver Angkor Cambodia
Riding remorge to next temple

Ta Keo Temple

Ta Keo (Khmer: αž”αŸ’αžšαžΆαžŸαžΆαž‘αžαžΆαž€αŸ‚αžœ) is a temple-mountain in Angkor (Cambodia), possibly the first to be built entirely of sandstone by Khmers

Ta keo Temple Mountain Pyramid Angkor Cambodia
Entrance to Ta Keo Temple

This temple is under reconstruction with the help of China. I saw many stones and metal frame around the top of the temple. What I remember vividly of this temple are the steep stairs to go to the summit! This temple has a pyramid style and each terrace/level is connected by the stairs from the base. So when we went up there, it felt like never-ending stairs lol. The stairs are not just steep but also each step is high! Maybe each step about 30 cm?! If you have a knee problem, better be careful.

The four stairways that lead on the summit are continuous and very steep.

Ta Keo Stairs Steep Angkor Cambodia
Stairs of Ta Keo Temple
Random sleeping dog in front of Ta Keo Temple

After the long and tiring journey at Ta Keo Temple, we stopped by at the restaurant in front of it to have lunch because I was starving. The driver wanted to continue but I said I can’t! I need food to refill my energy. So there we go to the local restaurant and we ordered a beef dish and Khmer Curry. After trying 2 times of Khmer curry, I must say it’s not my thing. The beef was great though! It reminded me of Bo Luc Lac from Vietnam.

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm is the 2nd most famous temple in Angkor because of a Hollywood movie. Can you guess which movie is it? The clue is Angelina Jolie. Yup, it’s Lara Croft: Tomb Rider! It looks like a neglected temple but really spectacular. I think Ta Prohm is the only temple in Angkor that was not reconstructed or restored, as it is said that it has the same look as it was when people found it. The trees and the building make an astonishing merger between nature and architecture.

Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and theΒ jungleΒ surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors. UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992.

Ta Prohm Temple Angkor Cambodia
Ta Prohm Temple
Ta Prohm Giant Tree Angkor Cambodia
When nature and architecture collide
Ta Prohm Giant Tree Angkor Cambodia
Astonishing or spooky?
Ta Prohm Giant Tree Angkor Cambodia
We are so little compared to the tree
Beautiful Lake Angkor Cambodia
It’s a beautiful day to strike a pose πŸ˜€

Banteay Kdei

The last temple we visited was Banteay Kdei. There is nothing special about this temple especially after seeing Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. It has a similar style as Bayon but smaller size.

Banteay KdeiΒ (Khmer:Β αž”αŸ’αžšαžΆαžŸαžΆαž‘αž”αž“αŸ’αž‘αžΆαž™αž€αŸ’αžαžΈ; Prasat Banteay Kdei), meaning “A Citadel of Chambers”,[1]Β also known as “Citadel of Monks’ cells”,[2]Β is aΒ Buddhist templeΒ inΒ Angkor,Β Cambodia. It is located southeast ofΒ Ta ProhmΒ and east ofΒ Angkor Thom

Banteay Kdei Angkor Cambodia
Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei Angkor Cambodia
Banteay Kdei

On the way out of this temple, we passed by several souvenir shops. The paintings are wonderful! I love looking at them but can’t buy them because I have no space at home, unfortunately.

What is the best thing to do after a half-day walking (and climbing) at Angkor Wat? Massage! Yes, we were waiting for this so much. There are a lot of massage parlors in Siem Reap and we had no idea which one is a good one. The driver brought us to Temple Massage as it is one of the favorites among his guests. We settled down with a body massage AND a foot massage. It costs us very little compared to Singapore so we enjoyed it while we can!

After the massage comes the hunger lol. Time for afternoon snack! We headed to Pub Street (again) and looked for a place to sit and enjoy the afternoon while waiting for dinner time.

Pub Street Siem Reap Cambodia
Pub Street in the afternoon
Fresh Spring Roll
Fresh Spring Roll

For the dinner, we had decided to try Ecstatic Pizza. My friend wanted to try happy pizza and she heard it from her friend that we can get it there. The menu is normal though, pizza, bread, seafood, etc. We chose small-sized Salami Pizza and Grilled Scallop. To order a happy pizza, we had to tell the waitress that we want “happy pizza” then she gave us the price for the extra topping.

Happy Pizza Small Size Siem Reap Cambodia
Happy Pizza Small Size

So what is happy pizza? It’s a normal pizza topped with cannabis (a.k.a weed). Yup, you read it right, cannabis. For me, who never tried it before, it didn’t taste nice. I prefer normal pizza lol. And for the effect, I didn’t feel any change (or happy) but I slept really well. Maybe that’s the effect for me!

Depending on how much pizza you devour, the woozy effects take only an hour to kick in. Waiters also walk by with tall pepper grinders chock-full of fresh, pungent weed. Need more carbs (and, subsequently, more buzz)? Some spots have weed-infused bread on the menu, too, which can be washed down with pot-spiked β€œhappy” fruit shakes.


Beware when you consumed it though because recreational weed is illegal in Cambodia, and the fine is $700 if you’re caught consuming these happy pizzas.

Thank you for reading my day 2 journal of Siem Reap Trip!

See you on day 3 πŸ˜‰ Ciao!

Experience · Travel · Vietnam

Ninh Binh Trip Diary – day 2

I woke up at 7am because I forgot to turn off the alarm. Doh! then we had breakfast at the homestay. Their food is pretty good. While waiting for the food and after the meal, we made plan on what to do today. We heard about the big festival that is going on at the old capital. It is only about 6 km driving. I couldn’t drive motorbike so the daughter of homestay owner offered her cousin to take me there and back. The cost was 100k vnd for that service one-way and I thought it was too expensive because the cost for renting a motorbike is 150k vnd per day. Ugh..

morning view from our hotel ninh binh vietnam
morning view from our hotel

The brother of the girl asked me to try the motorbike and see if I can drive it. I was scared because I never really drive a motorbike before. I did learned a little bit when I was in high school. Only on a small street and my brother used to make fun of my speed because I drove like a snail. But after a trial with the guy (he sat on the back, and me driving), apparently, I can drive a motorbike! In the end, we rented 2 motorbikes. My friend with her son. and me alone. We drove together and slowly to the old capital city.

There are a lot of people who asked us to stop for parking on the way to entrance. We picked the last parking spot and the lady said 20,000 VND. We didn’t agree, and the lady reduced the price. 5,000 VND it is! Luckily, the guy from our homestay told us the price for parking there. Thank you, Em!

ninh binh old town vietnam entrance
Entrance to Ninh Binh Old Town
festival boat ninh binh old town
Celebration of 1050 years
boats festival ninh binh old town
Ducks taking shower near boats
Entrance to a temple in Old Town of Ninh Binh
ninh binh old town festival

We strolled around the old capital. Taking A LOT of photos, especially when we found out that there is an event in one of the temple there! Many people wearing traditional dresses and there was a ceremony as well. I don’t know what ceremony was that but it was very interesting. We didn’t stay until it finished though.

On the way out, we stopped by at an ice cream place. 20k for celano ice cream. It was lunch time but my friend didnt want to eat there because of the previous food poisoning case she had on her trip to another cities in vietnam so I just hoped that ice cream would make my tummy calm until we found food! We walked a bit to the other gate, and on the outside of the palace there are many small stalls. I found an interesting water bottled brand in one of the stall! I thought it was Aquafina because it has the same design and color, but it wasn’t. It was Aquatoka! I don’t think they are from the same company…

Vietnam Calligraphy
Vietnam Calligraphy

We continued walking until we found a small pagoda. It looks new but still we took some photos there anyway. After we looked around a bit, we walked back to our motorbike and went back to the hotel to have lunch there.

In the afternoon we just stroll around the village riding a motorbike to take some photos. Then my friend’s son need a rest so we went back to the hotel and returned the motorbike.

Later on, my friend and I walked to the street next of the homestay. We met some people who said hello to my friend on the way, including a boy who passed by in a bicycle and showing us his middle finger while smiling! Whaaat?! I wonder if he understand the meaning of what he just did..

Ninh Binh Vietnam

When we were about to take a photo of abandoned boat, a small girl said hello to us. Her name is Yen, and she is 12 years old. She lives nearby. She was so happy to meet us because she’s been wanting to practice her english. And her english is great by the way. When I was 12 years old, I couldn’t speak English at all lol. She was taught since 5 years old by her mom, through youtube! And now at school she is learning English as well. She was so excited to show us around and didn’t want to leave us. I asked her if she needs to go home and do homework, she said no need, she just want to speak english. Cute! There were 2 of her friends joined us as well but their english is not as good as hers so they only responding in Vietnamese.

She asked us if we want to visit her school and we said yes, so she brought us to her school! What a unique experience! Haha. I’ve never been to a local school. It looked awesome though. I missed my school day just by looking at it. When it was the time to say goodbye, she desperately wanted to chat more but we couldnt. We really need to go back for dinner with the boy (who were asking where is his mom, been away for some time while he was sleeping lol).

We were having dinner together at the hotel when the owner lady joined us and she explained about her plants. In Vietnamese. We used google translator by voice and communicate very well with the lady. Very convenient! We decided not to go to the festival to see fireworks and it was the right decision. The daughter said it would be traffic jam and packed with people there. Her mom (the owner lady) turned on television and we could see the ceremony of the festival live! There were a lot of people at the old palace. I felt like we made the rigth decision by not going there. Not that keen to be in a crowded place. The lady also treat us an ice cream! I picked coconut ice cream and it was so good! Its texture was more like sorbet but sweet like ice cream. Delicious!

We finished eating ice cream by 10pm then I need to stay awake for awhile to digest this but I dont think I can do it, too sleepy. Better sleep now. Good night!