So it’s the final leg of our Upside Down Heart Tour of Vietnam and Cambodia and we’ve just landed in Siem Reap on the smallest commercial flight known to man. I counted 32 passengers. It was tiny. Regardless, we landed safely and made our way, excitedly, to the city after being mightily ripped off at customs for a Tourist Visa.
Like almost everyone around us we were here for just a few days to see the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, mingle in the charming old town and enjoy a little light entertainment for a couple of evenings. We’d already booked an evening at the Cambodian Circus and we’d also arranged a fantastic Tuk-Tuk driver, Suk-Ly, who we found via another blogger.
Suk-Ly, Suk-Ly, What you gonna do? What you gonna do when he comes for you? Suk-Ly, Suk-Ly.
~ Sung to the theme of 90’s tv show Cops whenever we saw Suk-Ly in the distance.
We parked our bags at the hotel and (possibly) had our customary cat nap. It wasn’t long before we hit the local markets and shops that were a mere stones throw from our beautiful hotel. We checked out all the fake watches and sunglasses before stumbling upon the exciting looking ‘Pub Street’. Draped with banners and ridiculously priced beverages (just $0.40 a beer!!), we were drawn in, like failing AA members, to the first open stools that we could find. It wasn’t long before we had exhausted the menu and set off in search of the next bar which was conveniently located just next door. We then tried the next one. And the next… It was happy hour every hour and the day quickly turned into night before we knew it. I don’t particularly remember eating that day, besides a questionable 20p pancake from a food stall – regardless, we went home pretty jolly. Partly due to the liquor and partly with the excitement that tomorrow was the day that we were off to see Angkor Wat. The crown jewel of our 15 day excursion of the Far East.
Morning arrived and this was our first encounter with Suk-Ly (What you gonna do?). I genuinely couldn’t rate the guy any higher – an absolutely top bloke, brilliant service and such a happy chappy. Definitely consider using his service and website if you plan on visiting Siem Reap’s many temples… Trustytuktuk.com. Bookmark him just in case. Our first venture with Suk-Ly was to the ticket office to acquire our 2-day pass to the sites of Angkor.
We arrive, happy as Larry. We’re still on cloud 9 that we’ve made it half way across the world and we’re well on our way to fulfilling one of our travel dreams. As we enter the large, echoey, unbelievably grand office we are greeted by a charming little Cambodian lady in traditional dress. I must say that despite what seemed like a boozy arrival on our part, we did actually engage with several locals and learn some language and customs… The Cambodians we met were absolutely lovely people and it is because of them (and the quality of accommodation, food and facilities) that we will be looking to return in the future….. anyhow, back to the ticket office and the lady in traditional dress. All four foot nothing of her.
“You want a ticket for the Cambodian Circus?”
~ Lil’ Cambodian Lady in Traditional Dress
Cue the Travel Fail as me and the wife stop in our tracks, right in front of this lovely young lady, we both drop our bags and stare each other in the eye, face-to-face as if we’re having a stand off with a mirror. The world moved in slow motion around us for just a few seconds and our bodies are motioning in absolute unison. Without thinking we both, yell out, in an absolutely silent, super accoustic, temple-esque building…
~ Mr & Mrs Carl
*Nobody ever said this was a blog for children…
And with that the lady nearly broke down in tears in front of us, leaflets clutched to her chest. We apologised profusely before having to curse ourselves for forgetting that we had booked to see the Cambodian Circus LAST NIGHT. That drunken night… Fuck. So there you have it. Be careful of Pub Street, Watch out for the Happy Hour and be sure to double check your itinerary before hitting the booze!
I’m not sure you’ll reallllllly get the full effect reading this compared to being there… think library-like silence, Vatican-like opulence, zen-like peace and then two rhinos charging through and cutting the silence like a hot knife through butter. Crap. And we were really looking forward to the circus. only buying the tickets the night before we arrived in the city…. Turns out those 40 cent beers made for a very expensive re-booking of the Circus Show.. I half suspect that the Circus works in tandem with the Happy Hour guys… a very clever trick… oh so cynical Carl, oh so cynical.
I wasn’t going to do this but I find it impossible to mention the temples of Angkor Wat without leaving a little teaser of the photos and blog posts still to come…
Have you visited the Circus? Better still, have you sworn out loud in a packed, silent room? No? Not even with an awkwardly timed stumped toe? I’d love to hear your embarrassing tidbits below…