8.7.17 Travel blog - Last Days in Siem Reap
Tuk tuk drivers sometimes sell other things beside a ride......
Mrs Wombat had arranged a museum visit with Tom the tuk tuk man and I decided that there are so many other things that I would rather do, than go to a museum. We parted ways outside of our hotel and I made sure Tom would bring Mrs Wombat home safely. So, off I stroll to change money and look for a heavy duty bag, (for all the extra stuff from the Post Office fiasco ....)
The tuk tuk drivers did not seem to want to offer me a lift as much as when the both of us go walking, in fact, I watched as I walked past a tuk tuk on a corner, he looked at me and then his attention was on 3 older westerners who were walking down the street toward him. Totally ignoring me, he was frantically calling out to them- "Hello, you want a tuk tuk?". I realised that a guy on his own wasn't as important and tried not to feel put out.
I continued walking and as I walked past a tuk tuk, with the driver laying on the seat, I s expecting him to call out- "you want a tuk tuk ?" However, surely I misheard, as it sounded more like, - "you want some (well stuff that some people smoke)?" I kept walking, another 50 or 60 metres on, same thing, but by now I was certain of what I heard. Once again shrugged him off as well as the next one and kept walking.
A Visit to the National Museum
After bidding farewell to Mr Wombat, who would rather stab himself in the eye with a rusty nail, before visiting a museum, I climbed aboard Tom's sad tuk tuk, for the trip to the museum. Out of the dozens of tuk tuk drivers we have used throughout Cambodia, it would be fair to say that Tom was by far, the most persistent when it came to trying to get you to go on trips and excursions. Not liking to be hassled like that, I told Mr Wombat that I would not be putting up with this, so I was on guard as we headed off.
Luckily I had done my research regarding ticket prices as we suddenly detour off the main road and head into the back blocks. Oh no I thought, where is he going???
Tom comes to a rattling stop outside a decrepit travel agency and my heart sinks. Surely we aren't going to go down the whole tour and day trip path, especially as we had been so firm with him previously.
I take a breath and Tom jumps off and explains to me that we have to buy my museum ticket here. No we don't I say, it is sold at the entrance to the museum! He is most emphatic, with lots of gesturing and head shaking. He explains to me that there are very long queues for tickets at the museum and this will save me time. What a load of rubbish I think to myself, it's a museum for goodness sake. I sigh and get out of the tuk tuk and stomp into the agency to suss this all out. I decide quickly that if it is the same price here, ($12), and I get an official receipt, then what the hell, they get commission, Tom gets commission, I get my ticket and all is well with the world!! I already knew the museum is privately owned and operated, no money from this museum goes to the local people, which is sad.
I pay my money, get my ticket and large receipt, Tom is happy and off we rumble to the museum. I mentally make a note to cut Tom loose as soon as we arrive, but he has already realised that I am a lost cause. We say our goodbyes and off I go for a wonderful day of history.
The museum didn't disappoint and whilst it is heavy going at times, particularly in the religion section, ( Hinduism and Buddhism can be very dry topics!!), I loved every minute, looking at artefacts dating back to the 5th Century was incredible and the history of the Khmer Empire was astounding. I was shocked to discover that I had been there for 4 hours, no wonder I was thirsty! I bought an iced mocha to drink whilst I re capped on all that I had seen and learned and then realised that I had left Mr Wombat's birthday card at home.
I had been so smug that I had thought ahead to his birthday, as well as my friends at work, but I had forgotten to put Mr W card in my backpack. I have not seen cards anywhere we have been, so decided to buy a hand painted postcard from the museum, the proceeds go to charity and the picture was amazing,a real keeper. I exit the museum with my original card, grab a tuk tuk and head back, having had an awesome day.
Using Google Translate.
This is a good back stop when all doesn't go as planned.
On my morning out, as usual I choose a coffee shop that looks nice and one not tried before. I sit down and look at the menu handed to me and choose a hot coffee, the menu says Cafe Latte, so this is what I order, however when ordering it became clear that even a little English was just not there. My coffee came out black and strong, now I have been having the odd black coffee and particularly if it's the local Khmer coffee its OK, this was 'blow your head off' strong!! I asked for some milk, I was met with blank stares, then I tried a hand gesture to add milk, still no go, then I tried the word whitener still no go. I was contemplating putting my fingers to my head to resemble horns and say Moooo, but I stopped short. Then I decided to use the Google Translate app on my phone, punched in the words milk for my coffee, called the guy over, he looked at the phone, he called the lady over, she looked at the phone and then hey presto... I was offered fresh or soy milk. d
Deciding on fresh milk, the guy heated it up using steam, bought over the jug and added it to my coffee. Now I almost have a Latte.
It's been about 7 weeks since my last hair cut and although this wombat is a little light on top, it's time for a trim. I have been checking out the local barbers during our walking journeys each day and settled on a place not far from our hotel. I rock in and explain in a few words and some sign language, (I could have used Google Translate I guess), sit in the chair and away we go. The barber seems to know what he is doing on this old wombat and 1/2 an hour later, all done, looking and feeling good, I hand over my $2. Mrs Wombats hair cut to follow.
Mrs Wombats Hair Cut -
Originally I was happy to use the same hairdresser as Mr Wombat, he looked trendy, from outside the salon looked nice, he advertised ladies hair cuts and he was very busy with clients. This is my criteria for choosing someone to cut my hair in a foreign country.
I am sitting, watching Mr W having his hair done and I gaze around this tiny salon. (using this term loosely now). I notice how grubby it looks, dirty combs etc. Suddenly there seems to be a rush on young twenty something guys along with their greasy hair. Nope, I am not having my hair cut here!!
I return the following day to a ladies salon next door, the combs and scissors are in solution and whilst no English is spoken, I show her what I want. A SMALL amount trimmed off, I say as I demonstrate with my fingers. Next minute she is hard at it, and I leave with a much shorter haircut than anticipated. I moan about this to Mr Wombat for the next 30 minutes, while he blandly nods in sympathy and I resign myself to the old adage - 'the difference between a good and bad haircut is 2 weeks!!'
Whilst we have eaten copious quantities of delicious Khmer food, we have been away from home for 5 weeks now, so the hankering for some Western food eventually drive us into Pub Street. After an eternity of wandering up and down and looking at menus, we settle on what appears to be a well regarded Mexican restaurant. Yum! This will be a treat.
We have been back to this restaurant 3 times since and I had to stop Mr Wombat from thinking that ordering a crocodile pizza was a good idea! Seriously?? Where would the crocodile meat come from? How do you know it is crocodile meat? Why do you think I only eat vegetarian food in Asia?? I see him considering this and he thinks better of it and orders a vegetarian burrito. A good choice I say.
As we wrap up our two weeks in Siem Reap, our daily routine has morphed into a variety of important things.
Firstly, a wombat can't continually eat great food, (albeit, smaller portions than he would at home) and consume beer each day with meals, without keeping up the exercise. Therefore, 20 laps of the pool after breakfast each morning, is the must do, (20 laps in bursts of 4, in a 15 metre pool).
We then decide what is on the agenda for the day, ensuring that our morning out includes a coffee from the zillions of great cafes in this city. Rohatt Cafe, which is across the river, has quickly become a firm favourite of ours. The staff are friendly, the setting gorgeous and the bakery items are a treat.
We then decide on a light lunch and have made it a past time to continually sample fresh spring rolls, trying to work out which restaurant has the best. Either these or a green papaya salad. Mrs Wombat has made it her mission to eat Amok from as many cafes and restaurants as humanly possible! After indulging in the most delicious food, it is back to the hotel to spend the afternoon around the pool, reading and snoozing.
We had a meal in the well regarded Amok restaurant on our last night, with amazing food and wonderful attentive service. leaving there I picked up a local Khmer dessert from a street cart, a sweet waffle type bite size coconut sweet, eating these on the walk back we decided one last $2 foot massage and then time to call it a night with a movie.
We checked out of the wonderful Tanei Boutique Villa, all of the staff and the manager have been so lovely and helpful, nothing was a problem and to top it all off we were in our room yesterday afternoon, and there was a knock on the door and a plate of fruit was presented to us, as we were long time guests. Most people stay for around 3 days, we were here for 7. What I will remember about this hotel is the lovely pool, the great breakfast and the clean comfortable room, it was just a treat to be here.
The manager arranged a tuk tuk to the airport so at the pre arranged time off we went with all our luggage and had a very slow ride, in fact so slow I was falling asleep. After a stop for fuel, we eventually got to the airport, what a great relaxed place, certainly not the hustle bustle of most airports, passport control etc was a breeze.
I needed my daily coffee hit, so into a cafe where we ordered a toasted pannini and coffee, then made our way to the gate where Mrs Wombat spots a very small Vietnam Airways plane She said "surely we are not flying on that thing", I said -"yep looks like it and it has two propellers, that will be fun". We were killing time and I was wandering around looking at the shops, next minute Mrs Wombat is running up to me with all the bags over her shoulder, looking like a pack horse and yelling that they are boarding now!!! They decided to leave early, (like about 3/4 of an hour earlier), so I grabbed my bag from her and we charged to the gate and boarded our little buzz box bound for Luang Prabang Laos.