Siem Reap | Angkor Wat, Pub Crawls and The Hideout

Siem Reap

Our relatively easy bus journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap was swiftly followed by checking into what has been our favourite hostel in Asia, The Hideout. With a brand new building, lovely pool and free beer in the evening we quickly found ourselves settled in.

The first night in Siem Reap was spent with Ali, a fellow Brit who was on the bus from Bangkok with us. We set out to explore the city, ending up eating street food on pub street, Siem Reaps answer to Koh San Road. After a quick plate of $1 rice, we explored the night market and found a bar serving 50 cent beers. 

The next day we woke with slightly sore heads (which was set to be a theme of Cambodia) and settled in to the bean bags by the pool with a book. The rest of the day was spent planning on our visit to Angkor Wat with a guy who we were sharing a dorm room with.

Angkor Wat

For some reason we thought that going at 4am for the sunrise would be a good idea, thankfully Mr Moon, our Tuk Tuk driver, was happy to oblige and was eagerly awaiting us as we stepped out the hostel into the darkness the following morning. After queuing twice to pay our $80 dollar entry fees, we made it to the first temple along with what seemed like the whole of China. Many of the buddha statues had had their heads removed by thieves who then sold them for large profits. 

Siem Reap | Angkor Wat

After watching the sunrise over the main temple of Siem Reaps most well-known destination, Angkor Wat. We explored the temple for a good hour before heading back to the Tuk-Tuk and seeing a further 7 temples. These were slightly ruined by the hoards of Chinese tourists stopping to take the same selfies in groups of 30+ at a time, preventing anyone from moving around the grounds with ease. Thanks to Mr Moon we got to see a couple of temples which were off the beaten track as well as the main ones within the “small loop” surrounding Siem Reap. These were the most impressive with trees growing through the ruins and the buildings themselves still resembling their former majesty prior to the destruction of the Khmer Rouge era, where many of the temples were targeted and bullet holes lined the walls. There was one particular temple which was damaged so badly that a local university was rebuilding the entire grounds stone by stone.

After 8 hours of walking round Angkor Wat we headed back to our hostel to find that there was a pool party that afternoon. Finding a place to sit we watched as a group of backpackers taking part in a silly salmon contest which involved jumping into the pool like a fish. Thankfully this flopped like a dead fish and the more relaxed atmosphere returned as we were sat having a beer with the staff, Ali and Jono (who we’d spent the morning with).

The Hideout | Siem Reaps Best Hostel

Catching up on sleep and lounging by the pool was the plan again for the next day along with looking around the “Made in Cambodia” market. This is a market where the money raised goes to charities helping families and vulnerable woman and children in Cambodia. The product prices are higher than in the regular markets in Siem Reap but they seem of higher quality and the people selling them are some of the friendliest we’d met. After the day spent lounging around we found the hostel was hosting a pub quiz, so after forcing them to start late our team headed back from a local restaurant having missed one round and went on to win in the remaining 3! As seemed customary in our hostel the prize was free beer. 

The next day was meant to be our last, however, we decided that we were going to have a night out on the hostel’s pub crawl. So after a day spent by the pool relaxing we set went to have a meal in a local restaurant and got back just in time for our free beer to start the night out. As soon as the free beer had finished the prices of vodka dropped to $1 and beer pong began. The first game was also the last with it taking twice as long as it needed too. Thankfully this was where us getting to know the staff well came into our favour and they helped us get drunk quickly and cheap with the measures of vodka they were pouring us taking up nearly 2/3rds of the glass, a measure we found to be fairly common in Siem Reap. As we set out onto the streets and walked in our group of 20 to the first bar (X-Bar) we felt like a group of children on a school trip crossing the roads in waves. X-Bar was Sam’s idea of heaven, the beer was cheap, the music was rock/metal and there was a skatepark on the roof! Sadly his skates were left in the UK and even he isn’t dumb enough to face the 6ft ramp in flip-flops! The second bar (Last Call) was completely empty when we arrived, after having shots poured into our mouths by the hostel reps, Sam scoured out the chess board so spent his time in the club losing chess games to Ali. Jess meanwhile was dancing to the music that the group had taken over control of meaning any requests were accepted. Even Sam couldn’t ignore the Bloodhound Gang or Tame Impala so sacrificed the chess board to dance before heading to the final bar of the evening (Angkor What?). Again we were greeted by free-flowing shots before grabbing a beer and all climbing up onto the back of the bench seating to dance. This overly tight space was only safe due to being stuck to it from the dried up alcohol that lined the wood. As we were dancing we saw one friend (Graham) “cheers” another (Ben) breaking his glass in the process. He then continued to drink his glassy drink before putting a cigarette out in Ben’s eye whilst dancing. As we went outside to check on Ben we found him with one hand holding a bag of ice to his eye and the other hand holding another beer. It was here that Jess started dancing with a ginger woman who must have been well into her 60’s, after a few songs she grabbed Sam and showed her arm with the tattoo “Lesbian Lover”, it was around this point Jess decided to point out to Sam she was, in fact, a man.

The night continued in the club for another hour or so before a group of us decided to head back to the hostel. When we arrived back we all went to sit by the pool after convincing the staff working we were not going to be loud. This was easy for most of us but Graham and Ali seemed to have no volume control after a few beers and as Damo, one of the reps, sat down to join us with a bucket of cold ones it wasn’t made any easier! After a couple more beers and with the sun threatening to rise we finally took ourselves off to bed. 

The next day was slower than usual for us with only having to book a bus as the only thing on our to-do lists. Ali decided to join us and so by 9 pm that night we had packed our bags and were ready to set off from Siem Reap the next morning to Battambang.

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