It’s been eight months since I left my teaching life in Siem Reap. I didn’t think I’d return so quickly but as I’m Vietnam it would seem rude not pop across the border. The thought of returning has prompted me to think about all my regular haunts and some of the things I miss about living in Siem Reap, that I hope haven’t changed. In no particular order:
1. Happy Hour at the Victoria Angkor Hotel. Fancy hotel, 50% off all drinks with free canapes for two hours between 5 and 7pm. Also known as a glass or two of sparkling wine for $3 and dinner for Simone! The biggest event is on Friday nights but a more subdued version is served up every single night (perfect for those of us who have to work until 8pm every night).
2. Teaching gorgeous Cambodian students. Even the teenagers are eager to learn!
After island hopping and roaming the Cardamoms, I had one last stay in the capital before leaving Cambodia. This time around it didn’t feel so large and busy (after the sleepiness of Vientiane my first introduction to the ‘thriving metropolis’ was a shock).
After staying at Samanea, Kep, and admiring such things as 15th century Myanmar ceramics at reception, I was excited to see what Belgian antiques dealer, Alain Garnier, had done with Governor’s House, Phnom Penh, his first foray into the world of luxury and boutique hotels.
I love camping. I love the peace of being outdoors in nature. I love going to sleep with only a thin layer of fabric between me and the outside world. But crawling out of a tent to go to the toilet during the night can be annoying. Sometimes sleeping on the ground can make an old body ache. And camping in the rain isn’t always fun.
Luckily, during two rainy days in July, I had the pleasure of ‘glamping’ at 4 Rivers Floating Lodge. I was warmly welcomed. Twice. First at the mainland reception and then again about 20 minutes downriver at the floating lodge itself.
Most people stop in Koh Kong either to cross the Thai/Cambodian border or to delve deep into the Cardamom Mountains. I almost traded in the island life in favour of spending time in a remote village and hiking into the dense jungle. The Chi Phat community tourism group (www.chi-phat.org) looks amazing and very affordable for the solo traveller.
But when the rains started there was no way you’d catch me in the leech infested jungle. Next time.
Luckily for me, Luxuryandboutiquehotels.com had other things in store for me.
But first, a night in Koh Kong. I teamed up with the one other person, a French girl, getting off the bus and not going straight to Thailand, and headed to what had been reviewed as a reasonable guesthouse (Blue Moon Guesthouse). A couple of hours later we found bedbugs in two rooms and I was out of there.