Hong Kong S.A.R., Cambodia · 13 Days · 65 Moments · December 2018

Emily's adventure in Cambodia

27 December 2018

Last Brunch in Cambodia @ the amazing Sister Srey Cafe. This place opens at 7am and is very popular right in the edge of the riverbank. The food was tasty, check out my avo toast, and the vegan snickers bar (not pictured) was to die for. This cafe does a lot to give back to the community and we noticed this trend in Siem Reap. When having drinks at Tribe our very first day, the owner kindly gave us a paper of recommended restaurants, attractions, and bars. Every place we went was invested in empowering the Cambodian community by hiring, mentoring, co-owning, and teaching locals a variety of trades needed in the reality of local tourism. I’ll write one final Journi post and include all of these establishments and our big takeaways from Cambodia. *the alley right around the corner from this cafe is also adorable so I posted those pictures. Fun shops, restaurants, and hotels. This would be a great place to stay in Siem Reap! *tuk tuk share with the driver’s daughter

26 December 2018

The Local Brewpub Our last night in Siem Reap, we decided to explore street 20 in the Wat Bo area. Our tuk-tuk driver had accidentally taken us down the road the day before and it looked cool. After walking through some dark side streets we stumbled upon this craft beer joint. It is a simple roadside building with about 6 taps of local Cambodian beers. Some from Phnom Penh and some from Siem Reap. I tried an 11% Cider and Ryan had an IPA and melon APA. They were all delish and at 3 USD each, not gonna break the bank. There happened to be other guest house and hostels around this area but towards the end of the road. It isn’t on the map so might be hard finding it, but good things come to those who explore. Ryan's edit: They also played the entire Alice in Chains Unplugged album while we were there. 🤟🏼 Definitely worth checking out!
Artisans D’Angkor We stopped by to see the workshops where souvenirs are made. Sadly, many of the goods sold in Cambodia are made in places like Indonesia. It is a mass production here, however it is all done by hand where workers are paid fair wages. We didn’t end up buying anything but it was really cool to see the whole process.
Street views as we explore more of the city this morning! Always love a good umbrella alleyway :)
Brunch @ The Hive Back to the Kandal Village area, we just can’t get enough of it for a fabulous brunch at The Hive. I had a turmeric chai latte and the ‘Hivevos’ Rancheros and Ryan had a hearty breakfast burrito! Another recommendation - honestly nothing in this micro-neighborhood has disappointed.

25 December 2018

Dinner @ Pou This place was recommended to us by a store owner for Khmer food with a twist. Great prices and fun dishes with some veg friendly options. 👍🏼 the head chef has won some local awards too. They even made a birthday plate for Ryan. He was sad the writing was in beetroot sauce, not sriracha but the coffee filled banana cake was a hit. Also loved how the pandon wafers were served in an ashtray to look like cigars. Beautiful plating at a great price!
Birthday and Christmas Cocktails @ Miss Wong’s Although this joint is right next to pub street, don’t be fooled. It is a long time establishment in Siem Reap with a great cocktail menu. No happy hour here though, so expect to pay full price. (Around 5 USD a drink) My elderflower G&T was worth it. We ordered the mushroom potstickers as well, which were served in the cutest steamer basket. Inside the bathroom there is even a coy pond. Super cute atmosphere and worth a visit.
Lunch-ish @ Casasur OMG, this amazing tapas bar is in our fav area of Kendal Village. The Sangria was the best we have had since Spain and the veggie tablas plate was out of this world. The tomato bread was perfection, fried plantains with guacamole, and so much more! We were in heaven, contemplating if we can go back tomorrow for more of the same. Owned by a Spaniard and Colombian this place is top of the range.
Visiting Bayon Temple - contd. My favorite temple! With dozens of towers of Buddha faces in all four sides I could have spent hours here. However, it was the most packed of any of the temples we visited. Plus the sun was intense and we were exhausted from walking around Angkor Wat temple. There are many window/door frames to wonder through trying to find photography gems. Unfortunately with van loads of tour groups it is a bit intense. I wish we would have stopped here first this morning. A MUST visit at Angkor Wat and the area temples around this one in the walled city looked fun for exploring as well.
Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple - archeological park day 2 We were up early again on Christmas Day arriving at the actual Angkor Wat site at 8:30am. The sky was hazy but luckily cleared up throughout the morning. The temple is large and we opted for no guide thinking I could hear bits and pieces inside. Wrong. Most guides were speaking Chinese, French, or German. I listened to parts of an audio guide app we purchased for 3 USD. On the way out we noticed an audio guide stand for 7 USD. That would be a good way to go. The line to walk up to the very top took about 30 minutes. It was cool to see the grounds from above but trees are so lush you can’t see the area temples in the distance. We had heard from various books and blogs that skipping Angkor Wat would allow you to see more of the other temples. I can see how that would be the case. With the warm sun beating down on us, we only had the energy for two temples this morning.

24 December 2018

Phare Cambodian Circus After a short dip in the pool, we headed off to our 5 o’clock show of the Cambodian circus. The circus here is unlike any other circus. It is more a dramatic play, along with artists and some aerial skill work. There are NO ANIMALS in this circus. 👍🏼 The show we saw was titled White Gold and all about the importance of rice to the Cambodian culture. It was written, directed, and performed by locals. The show was only an hour and the tent is small so you can get the low tier tickets and see everything easily. Highly recommend + supporting the arts and artists.
We also visited: Bantreay Kdei, Ta Som, and Eastern Mebon Eastern Mebon was very different then the rest, higher up and was restored in brick. It has elephants on each corner protecting the temple. It was getting quite hot by 1pm so we headed back to our hotel for a dip in the pool.
Ta Phrom 1st Stop I had read this temple can get VERY crowded as it is the temple where Tomb Raider was filmed. It was a bit crowded but not terrible. Famous for being overgrown with trees, there is some restoration happening and viewing platforms have been set up to help the visitors. With a bit of patience you can get some spectacular photos.
Angkor Wat Archeological Park This morning we hired a tuk tuk driver (20 USD) and started our Angkor Wat adventure. First we stopped to buy a 3 Day pass to the park which was 67 USD a person. Prices have gone up over the last few years. Luckily they take cards. There are basically two circuits drivers will go a small circuit and grand circuit. It took a bit of convincing to get our driver to visit just what we wanted but all ended up on the grand circuit anyway. We were out for about 5 hours and saw 4 temples.

23 December 2018

Mexican Dinner @ Maybe Later We were so excited to see this within 10 minutes of exploring the Kendall area. Of course we had to have dinner here and they had enchiladas!!!! After a quest dinner we both had enchilada and churros for desert. Yes they had margaritas. Yes the food was delish. Yes it was awesome. Heads up -they only take cash.
Kandal Village Absolutely love this area. It only took a few moments to find a Mexican restaurant and adorable boutiques along the street. Check out Paradise, Trunkh, Tribe cocktail bar, and more. Terry one of the owners of Tribe also provided us with a great list of local restaurants and art galleries to visit. A Must visit area! We will be back everyday!
Along the river such charming architecture.
Charming Angkor Resort and Spa We have arrived at our hotel which has a gorgeous pool although it is about 1 km away from the river area. No worries we are setting out to see the sights.
Arrived in Siem Reap Those white dots are the floating villages from above as we landed in the city. A breezy tuk tuk ride to the hotel and we were already loving this lush green city.
A cool map of Cambodia 🇰🇭 to see where all the places are.

22 December 2018

Dinner at Naia Tofu curry for me and beef lol lak for Ryan. Loved their artisanal popsicles too! A great option on the beach.
Winter solstice sunset while getting a nail polish change. Not too shabby.
Ice cream cart in the beach! It even had a bell 🔔

21 December 2018

Views from a beach chair Yesterday and today were spent in about the same place on our beach front. This quiet beach has some hustle and bustle, mostly the local women making a living giving massages, selling bracelets, cooking food, and taking people on island boat trips. Mey Mey has given us a few massages the last few days and she always finds us the next day. :)

20 December 2018

Beach Cleanup +Happy hour and dinner at Tamu The tide was very low yesterday so after our hour massages (only 10 USD) on the beach we noticed all sorts of garbage washing up on shore. I grabbed a trash bag from our resort and Ryan and I walked along the beach picking you all sorts of things and sooooo many straws and bottle caps. We had filled our whole bag in 300 meter easily. One of the locals grabbed it from us and emptied it into a “rubbish area” on his property. I’m pretty sure it was not going to go to a proper landfill so that was a bit annoying. We continued to clean up walking back to our hotel and a couple of ladies joined in our efforts. We had another full bag walking back. After a quick shower we walked down to Tamu for happy hour 5-7 and enjoyed $3 cocktails and $2.75 wines. Best drinks so far and the atmosphere there is adorable!
Yesterday we walked down the beach for about 25 minutes to Otres 1. It was an easy walk and for most of the way there is also a paved path, although it is overrun by sand in parts. Otres 1 is much more geared to backpackers, and was not as clean as our beach. If booking to stay in this part of Cambodia, skip Otres 1. We then grabbed a tuk tuk into Sihanoukville which took about 10 minutes. The road was bumpy and dusty with tons of dump trucks along the way. The Chinese development companies are constructing many casinos, hotels, and resorts but it doesn’t seem they are doing so with any regard to the land or surrounding area. I wanted to check out Starfish Bakery, a nonprofit restaurant and handicraft shop benefiting local people. We went after breakfast so I only had a cookie and juice. The menu did look tasty though! Not much to do or see in the city and it wasn’t really walkable with all the construction. A busted trip but now we know. No need to stop in Sihanoukville.

19 December 2018

Dinner at our hotel last night since they had live music. (A local musician and his guitar playing American hits!) Ryan had the marlin steak from the fish market in town.
Walking along the road behind the beach businesses. Fun noticings: 1. The soil is a rusty red color 2. Many investment opportunities here - also many being had without minding the local landscape 3. Cute puppies, obviously 4. Sunset selfie ✅
Pretty much spent 70% of our day here watching the sun fade in and out of clouds. Lucky to have a day of not-so-intense sun to start out our beach stretch of the vacay. This woman walks around selling massive tiger prawns as well as a few other ladies who offer mani/pedis and massages. I can speak first hand that the neck massage was devine.
Fresh fruit and banana bread as part of my breakfast. Yum yum yum! We are looking forward to relaxing on the beach all day.

18 December 2018

The sunset on our beach is 💯
White Boutique Hotel on Otres 2 Beach Our property is cute and the beach is super chill. I love that we have a pool and a private beach. Plus we can just walk along the sand to other restaurants and cafes. Did I mention the sun sets strait ahead of our beach chairs? This is where I will be for the next 4 days! Sad fact, while taking these photos I lost my glasses into the ocean. Guess I won’t be seeing much for the rest of the trip. Ugh :(
We made it to Sihanoukville! Sad to see how the Chinese are building this area up with casinos and skyscrapers. Hoping to find some tranquility in the next 4 days.

17 December 2018

Romdeng Last dinner in Phnom Penh meant we headed to Romdeng. This sister restaurant of Friends where we went 2 nights ago is also a training school for locals. Delicious curries and some creative sorbets: coconut chili and lime pepper to end the night. Another recommendation!
Cambodia Cultural Dance Show @ The National Museum Made sure to go see the traditional dance show that is every night at 7pm. Performers are students of the incubator from right next door at the university of performing arts. Each dance depicted a form of Cambodia’s history/culture. Only a 3 minute walk from our hotel!
New Delhi II Quick stop along the riverfront for a beer and an Indian snack. First 2 beers were free! Gotta love Masala Papadum and Paneer Pakora 😍
Chhma Catfé After our massage a bit of window shopping, we came across the best cat cafe. For 8 USD, we each had a coffee frappe, unlimited entry, and a packet of cat treats. The space is clean and a cat haven with tons of nooks and crannies for cozy curling up. It was a great way to spend an hour. If you like cats this place is for you.
Seeing Hands Massage After a lie-in this morning, we made our way a few blocks from the hotel to the Seeing Hands Massage parlor. This company and others in Cambodia, work to teach the over 60,000 blind people of the country skills of the trade. I can’t say the massage was amazing but for $10 an hour and helping those who might not be able to be employed elsewhere, was okay by us. Still if you are looking for a stellar massage. This is not it.
Right around our hotel. Such a cool area.

16 December 2018

Phnom Penh Food tours - part 7 Our food tour ended with dessert at another local street stall which I will call the coconut milk and jelly stall. We tried five different varieties of this dish which included cooking starch, coconut milk, fruits, tapioca, and spices. Two of the dishes were supposed to be better for your health and had more jelly-like substances inside from the cotton tree and a green vegetable. They ranged in sweetness and texture. None were terrible just different and unusual tastes. Afterwards, our guide and driver dropped us off at our hotel. This tour was a huge success and I feel like we got a better ‘taste’ of Cambodia. As with all tours you have a chance to hear from a local about other cultural aspects of their life. We were so glad to learn from Vanarith about life in the city and his job working with expats here. I highly recommend Phnom Penh Food Tours if you’re here in the city!!!
Phnom Penh Food tours - part 6 The last big food stop of the night was at a local BBQ sports bar. We were served a snakefish that had been lightly fried and sliced, almost hasselback style, and stuffed with carrots, beans, garlic, and more. It was on a bed of cabbage and special red sauce in a dish served on top of two burners. When the liquid starts to boil you know the veggies and fish are ready to eat. This is much more of a special occasion dish in Cambodia as it is expensive and takes a while to prepare. We also started the meal by having some spicy pickles. Everyplace we visited was local and off the tourist path. Without our guide we never would have known about these dishes, areas, and how to order. Exactly what you want in a food tour.
Phnom Penh Food tours - part 5 At the end of the street we stopped at a fish and meat stand where our guide ordered a grilled white river fish. In Cambodia fish are stuffed with lemongrass to be more fragrant and smell less fishy when they are cooked. We also had freshly sautéed morning glory in oil garlic oyster sauce from a very kind family stand. The best part was the dipping sauce for the fish which was a special mixture of sugar, salt, and black pepper was stirred with lime juice and perfectly complemented the fish. It was my favorite dish of the night. We enjoyed a cold beer this time and were the hit of the street, as locals thought it was funny we were dining with them. Sad fact: we learned that about 60% of Cambodians eat dog meat :( our guide explained this is more of an older generational thing but shocking nonetheless.
Phnom Penh Food tours - part 4 We stopped at this woman’s stand to admire her setup and try the milk fruit. It is a round purpleish fruit that can be cut into quarters and you eat the white fleshy part inside discarding the pits. It was sweet and watery and perfectly in season. We also tried some of the best grapes in Cambodia, from the region or province where our guide was born. Fun fact: Cambodians use two different kinds of tamarind yellow and orange.
Phnom Penh Food tours - part 3 Views from a local street market. Most locals do not have a refrigerator which means they shop for produce every evening to make dinner. Inside this bamboo rod is sticky rice and possibly meat or vegetable. Inside these bags are sugarcane juice or cooking stock. The fish paste used for the basis of most meals is also wrapped in banana leaves next to the bamboo stocks.
Phnom Penh Food tours - part 2 Our next stop on the food tour was an area behind a very popular high school in the city. The street had a few coffee shops and restaurants where students go to get a snack. We tried two different types of salad, corn and papaya flavored with shrimp and crab stock. Ryan also tried two different sausages (not pictured) and we experienced beer the way locals do: pouring a warm can over a cup of ice and drinking it with a straw. Fun fact: While education is free in Cambodia, that’s only up until seventh grade. At this point, students have to pay an additional $.25 per class they want to take each day. You could be paying up to 2 US dollars a day to go to school which is very expensive for many Cambodians.
Phnom Penh Food tours We had booked this tour online a few weeks ago and were super excited to be shown around by Vanarith. At 5:45pm we met outside the Olympic Park and began our 4 hours of adventure together. We started with some traditional coconut and tamarind noodle soups. We ordered three kinds, two fish and one chicken (not for me) and then garnished each bowl with a plethora or fresh herbs. We had sugarcane juice to go along with it and then afterwards tried a grilled pepper egg. A hole is punched into the top of the egg and the insides are poured out and mixed with salt and pepper. The mixture is dumped back in the egg and it is ready to grill. It was very tasty and we were off to a great start. We walked around the Olympic stadium and noticed many people playing volleyball, bocce ball, and enjoying a 3 hour aerobics class. This apparently happens nightly and it’s a great place to bring a date in the city. Fun fact: Volleyball is the most popular sport in Cambodia.
Street 308 = Check me out! After the palace we asked our tuk tuk driver to show us the riverfront and headed back to a cute street we saw earlier (it was closed). Lots of cute bars, boutiques, and perhaps a bit of gentrification (for good and bad). Enjoying some drinks at the Red Bar currently before our food tour.
Exiting the palace, there was a free bottled water stand. It was definitely welcomed in the sunny warmth with this great view.
More amazing palace photos.
At 10 USD a piece, entry to the royal palace was a bit steep but worth it on Sunday. This is the day locals also visit the palace and we got to chat with a few monks and I even gave one my email address after getting permission to take their photos. The grounds were stunning and spacious. Loved the local musicians just outside the exit as well.
Quick stop at the central market so we could both buy new bracelets. Then, back to the hotel for a lay by the pool.
Above the bricked cells where prisoners were kept and tortured at S-21
We started the day off visiting the S 21 Genocide museum, learning more about the Khamer Regime and the tragic history of Cambodia. The audio guide was educational and the government has done a strong job presenting the history accurately. When in Phnom Phen I would highly recommend stopping here.
Genocide museum
We hired a Tuk tuk driver for the day. Enjoying the breeze of the ride.
Breakfast view after a very rainy night.

15 December 2018

Wrapped up day by popping into a few boutiques. Happy to purchase a new headband to benefit school children. We also stepped into one of the many massage parlors to get a quick 30 min foot massage before bed. It was right next door to our hotel so we could walk home lazily, or so we thought. A deluge of rain began right as we were getting ready to leave our massages. We made a beeline for our hotel and are gonna catch some much-needed zzzz’s
First dinner out and we didn’t have to go far to find Friends! A local cooperative that helps train future service student and chefs who might not have an opportunity to learn. Food was great and set the bar high for this trip. The zucchini fritters were my favorite. Would recommend for sure.
Rooftop pool and view. Storm is rollin in!
Our hotel is stunning. Super excited for the rooftop view we are about to check out and exploring the area. Okay Boutique Hotel
Landing in Cambodia! It is 32 degrees and sunny. Here we go ❤️
View of Hong Kong after a tight layover.
Stunning view of Fuji-San as we fly out of Tokyo!