Oct 13, 2014

Siem Reap: Tonle Sap, Artisans Angkor , Phnom Bakheng and Angkor Night Market

I had an early flight and was contemplating how to get to KLIA2 . ERL was an option but it was quite late. Only started at 5am or 5.30am?  Finally after some research, I found that the sky bus leaves for KLIA2 at 3 am from  Sentral. It was also a much cheaper option from the ERL costing only RM10.

Had a little nap while waiting to board the plane. The plane took on right on schedule. On board, I took another little nap and browsed the 3 sixty magazine. Feeling peckish, I  ordered my meal. I got a bottle of mineral water, my favourite Pak Nasser nasi lemak and a packet of dried mango. All for RM24.

Arrived in Siem Reap airport on schedule and breezed past immigration. The airport is surely tiny. I was out before I could look around any further and I found myself half amused and half shocked by that...

Safy, my appointed tuk tuk driver was there to pick me up. He sent me straight to my hostel, the Mad Monkey hostel along Sivatha road to check in and store my bag. Paid USD16 for 2 nights stay. Then he took me along a bumpy (not his fault.. The road IS very bumpy) ride to the jetty at Tonle Sap.

I was there to visit the floating village of Chong Khneas...

Before leaving me and telling me where he would be waiting for me, Safy warned me of the little 'scam' that might happen which was I might be coaxed into paying more then I should in the name of charity.

Anyway it was another USD20 for the boat ride.

Just a quick run through, Chong Khneas is a floating village at the edge of the lake nearest and most accessible to Siem Reap. If you want a relatively quick and easy look at the Tonle Sap, boat tours of Chong Khneas are available, departing from the Chong Khneas boat docks all day long. 

Take a tuk-tuk, like I did or taxi the 11-15km from Siem Reap to the docks where there are always boats waiting for passengers. 

I was the only passenger on the boat with two young men, one the captain and the other my guide.
Cambodians speak English as a second language. Well, at least 75% of them do.

I was taken from the river to the lake. The water was low and muddy/murky and I wondered if there were crocodiles around but the boys assured me there were none except in captivity.

The boys showed me around the village and did their modus operandi. They took me to the "sundry" shop to buy goods for orphans. And omg.. It was truly inflated... A sack of rice 10kgs cost USD 30 and USD50 for 20kgs. A carton of instant noodles cost USD20 and a dozen small sardines USD12.

The cheapest might be the lollipops which still cost a whooping USD5.

Then I was taken to a floating crocodile farm and then sent back to the jetty. Because I did not cough up the money for the orphanage, I did not get to see the kiddies , which were supposed to be an interesting sight as they like to play in the lake on pots, and anything that floats... I was a little miffed and disappointed, but ah, oh well.....

On the same bumpy road back to the city, Safy took me to a lotus field where we took a couple of photos...It was beautiful and a little girl came up and gave me a lotus for free...

After that, we went to the Artisan Angkor where I could see some of the lovely statues and carvings painstakingly made by the Artisans there

Artisans Angkor was created in 1999 to help young Cambodians

 find work in their home villages, allowing them to practice their 

crafts while providing them with a vocation. It was created as part 

of a three-year project to integrate young artisans trained by 

the Chantiers-Ecoles de Formation Professionnelle - whose 

objective is to revive traditional craft skills (stone carving, wood

 carving, lacquering, gilding and silk processing). 

Artisans d’Angkor creates upscale artifacts with lots of constant research, high quality materials and perfect colour as well as texture choices. Its workshops and boutiques serve as a platform to procure authentic information on traditional Khmer techniques deployed for lacquering and gilding, wood and stone carving and silk painting. The stone carving is done here with sandstone that has been used by artisans for centuries to carve out amazing stone sculptures. Likewise, wood is carefully chosen to ensure that the end product will take after woodworks seen in ancient structures and pagoda embellishments.

For silk paintings, the artisans d’Angkor uses special kind of colours made using natural pigments. Upon applying this colour on the motif and finishing it with a paintbrush as well as India ink, a gloss whose main ingredient is a natural wax is applied on it to provide an appearance that is the same to murals found in prehistoric temples.

Situated on the Thmey Street in Siem Reap, Artisans d’Angkor is 

close to the much famed Angkor Wat and Old Market. Entry 

is free, and the services of English, French, Khmer, 

Japanese, Chinese, German and Thai guides are available from 

07.30 to 17.30. Free tours are organized from Artisans d’Angkor to 

visit Angkor Silk Farm as well as its workshop

Safy then dropped me off at a nearby shopping mall where I got some tid bits and yogurt and souvenirs. I went to get a Khmer full body massage for USD 5 and then walked back to Mad Monkey to rest. 

At 4pm, Safy picked me up and we went to get tickets to Angkor Wat. USD20 for one day's pass and with your picture on the pass.

Then Safy insisted on bringing me to the Phnom Bakheng temple. It was a long tiring about 1km hike I think up..but the view was lovely and absolutely worth the sweat and pain...If you visit Angkor, any of the temples, try to see Phnom Bakheng during sunset.

Phnom Bakheng was built in late ninth to early tenth century by

 King Yasovarman dedicated to Siva (Hindi).


This is most solitary place in all Angkor and the pleasantest. If it 

was truly the Mount Meru of the gods, then they chose their 

habitation well. 

Phnom Bakheng is said as the best spot to experience a true

 Angkor sunset. Apparently, almost every person in the world 

knows that, because it is a gathering of a huge crowd from 4 to 


lovely shades of blue 

Be there early, and you could get a place where you can 

actually see the sun setting over Tonle Sap lake. Be there late, and 

you'll only see the backs of thousands of people. Sunset on Phnom

 Bakheng recommendable if you want to take some interesting


A long winding path leads up and down the hill. It is not lit so you

 have to come down before it gets too dark or bring your torch 


  However there are guards there to chase you off  before then 

for safety reasons, both for the temple and for yourself, Ok, they 

do not chase, but rather advice you to leave...as they will be 


all the crowd awaiting the sunset

 Alternatively, you can ride up the hill on the back of an elephant. 

For either method, plan at least 20 minutes up the hill.

Phnom Bakheng closes at 6.30pm.

you can choose to get an elephant ride up to the Phnom Bakheng temple if you like and have the budget...

It is always a fun and experience to explore, dine, chill and shop 

after dark. The goods sold here, primarily by local communities as 

well as non-governmental organizations, encompass clothing, silk 

paintings, traditional handicraft items and wood and stone carvings

. The biggest plus point is that most of things you’ll see here 

are quite pretty unique.

The night market is situated just off Sivatha Blvd, around 10 minute walk from Old Market or Center Market. 

The place is tucked in a little bit inside, so you’ll be passing the somewhat dark street. But no worries, many people pass by that street, and several shops and restaurants are open during the night.

I was to meet a fellow Malaysian backpacker Facebook friend to plan to travel together to Bangkok but somehow I couldn't find the place we were suppose to meet. 

 I walked about in circles and got a nice papaya ice blended and walked back to the Mad Monkey. I went to sleep early to make up for lost energy/sleep.


  1. yeah... us Malaysians paying USD is slightly painful... most of the places have to pay about 20 USD so go figure....


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