Back on the Bike, Angkor Style

Heading for Siem Reap Ross and I had a very smooth border crossing into Cambodia, there are still a lot of scams out there (scam buses and overpriced visas) but doing a little research on internet goes a long way. Armed with information we took a bus from Bangkok's Northern Terminal to the boarder, ignored all of the touts and tuk tuk drivers trying to tell you you need this form or that, and then grabbed a taxi to our guesthouse in Siem Reap. All in all a very smooth entrance into The Kingdom of Cambodia and Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor temples.

Lucky for us we arrived during Bonn Om Tuk. The 'water festival' is celebrated every year when the current of the Tonle Sap, which swells so much during rainy season that it actually pushes water upstream, reverses and flows back into the Mekong River. Boat racing, an illuminated boat parade, and fireworks were celebrated all along the banks of the river. At night the locals also purchase small boats which they light with incense and float down the river to symbolize sending all of their troubles away. We caught quite a few of the races, ate at the street stalls set up for the festivals, and enjoyed the contagious energy of all the fans.

We decided to pick up a 3 day pass to the Angkor area so that we would have plenty of time to explore. We chose to rent bikes our first day and we loved it so much that we got them again on our second day. It has been over two months without getting on a bike so we were really excited to ride. There are bike rental shops everywhere here and so many of the locals ride bikes it is very easy, even in busy traffic, to get around. It also helps that the area around the temples is super flat so you can easily cruise all day and take in a lot of the sites. It also beats walking because it is hot here, really hot, and on the bikes you get a nice breeze.

On day 1 we started with the famous Angkor Wat. The temples are so old (some dating back to the 9th century), incredibly ornate (the stone carvings are amazingly detailed), and of such scale (there are over 1000 temples in the area) that you can't helped but be in awe.

After touring Angkor Wat we made our way around to several of the temples that comprise Angkor Thom.

Faces of Bayon II

On Day 2 we decided to head out in the late afternoon to catch the sunset at Angkor Wat. We got a great view and also got to see all of the locals come out to have family picnics in front of the temples on their Sunday evening. Cruising around on a bike in Cambodia is awesome!

More to come for day 3...


  1. Hi guys! Your trip sounds fantastic - what wonderful experiences the two of you are sharing! We love your blog and try to keep up with it when we can. We're heading out to your neck of the woods (at least where you are currently, who knows in a couple of weeks) this weekend - Tokyo through 12/3 then Khoa Lak Thailand, Phi Phi island, then Phuket town - are you guys going to be back that way? If you are, would love to catch up and buy you both some dinner and drinks! Enjoy your travels!!
    -Hellen & Geoff Simpson (your neighbors in Belmar - remember that use to be where you lived!)

  2. Hi Hellen,
    Glad you have been able to check out the blog, we are having a great time! We would love to meet up but unfortunately we will be heading to Vietnam and then into China when you will be in SE Asia. Sounds like you have a great trip planned, enjoy your time there. Maybe we will have to cook up a Thai feast for our next 'Julia' dinner, we loved the cuisine there! Safe travels,

    Abby & Ross

  3. Wow, sounds like your itinerary keeps getting better and better! Vietnam and China, how fantastic! OK, in order to keep this brief I have a couple of links to send re: China -
    For hikes/treks near Beijing (we did the Great Wall Hike from Jinkau (I think) to Simitai, totally empty, like having it to ourselves) to , we went with this group and it was great, very untourista like -http://www.beijinghikers.com/
    Another good organization for interesting things to see/do - http://www.chinaculturecenter.org/
    We did a bike ride through the Hutongs with Cycle China - it was good but probably will not be worth it for you two after cycling through Cambodia.
    You probably already know this but take the subway in Beijing everywhere - no need for a car except the Great Wall - most subway stops go right to the sights.
    Food in Beijing - If you can find it, Din Tai Fung (there's several locations). It's on the pricy side for dumplings and noodles but the best in Asia - about $8US for a steaming basket of pork dumplings, don't forget to get the cucumbers - they're good all over China. Try Peking Duck if you can - Da Dong is quite good but also on the pricy side. We ate our way through Beijing on cheap noodles which was scrumptious and so satisfiying!
    Food link: http://appetiteforchina.com/china-restaurants-by-city
    Chowhound also has recommendations but they tend to be on the expensive side which is totally not worth it in China.
    Shanghai - Yang's Fry Dumpling or Jia Jia Taibao (across the street from each other and of course we ate at both).
    Vietnam - no food recommendations (everything was good, try the banh mi and of course the pho) but definitely get in Halong Bay if you can - we didn't get up there but definitely will the next time we go.
    Have a great time!! Safe travels back at you!!
    -Hellen & Geoff

  4. Thanks for all the tips Hellen! We will definitely look into this as we get closer to China, the group you hiked the Great Wall with looks great. Thanks again :)