The Journey to Angkor: Part 1

Siem Reap, Cambodia 03/'06

Flashback to 2005:

I was nearing my 18th birthday, and decided to ask my dad for a trip to Cambodia.

I never thought it would change me forever.

Half a decade ago, Angkor Wat wasn’t on most local travel agencies’ menus. Please be reminded that this was a time when travel agents made more money than travel bloggers, and eons before Philippine backpackers became in vogue (or so it seemed).

A year before Cambodia took the South East Asian tourism circuit by storm, it was an expensive destination for Filipinos — and seemingly not worth the price. MNL-SIN airfare aside, the cost of a roundtrip ticket to Siem Reap, Cambodia from Singapore was about the same price as a r/t ticket to Australia or Hawaii (around US$600). Understandably, Papa was not sold. But I was determined to get that immigration stamp on my passport.

It took a lot of prodding (a.k.a. pangungulit to death) and bribing (straight A’s X-deal), to convince him. It was not handed on a silver platter. I worked my ass off, and it did me well (basic rule of life #1).

Before I knew it, my dad and I were on a plane to Singapore — en route to the destination of my dreams. Sheena Easton’s Fern Gully theme, A Dream Worth Keeping, was kept on replay on my archaic MP3 player throughout the entire flight. Hearing the song now still evokes pleasant sentiments of goosebumps-worthy memories.

I believe, we’ve found a dream that’s worth keeping… for more than just a day. And even though the winds of change may come sweeping… a dream worth keeping, can never fade away… ❤

I will never forget the sight of red Cambodian soil and the many rivers winding through it — all seen from a few hundred feet up in the air upon final descent. That in itself, was breath-taking. *kilig*

Following immigration formalities, we made our way out of the airport and were greeted by the Prince D’Angkor Hotel & Spa’s pick-up service. The driver cruised through Siem Reap’s dusty airport road (where enormous hotels were being built every few blocks) to reach Sivatha Boulevard, where the hotel was located. Oh, and we happened to pass by a herd of cows along the way!

We arrived at the hotel soon after, and boy, was it gorgeous — with the claim-to-fame of having the biggest salt-water swimming pool in Siem Reap. Unfortunately, I never got to use the damn pool because my lovehandles were a fright to behold and I couldn’t dare wear a bikini for fear of scaring everyone away.

The room was charming with a rustic touch (very cozy), but the best part was the huge balcony overlooking the pool below (bliss). I also loved the interwoven silk and cotton drapes (made by Artisans D’Angkor), and the hard wood furniture (just hope they didn’t come from illegal logging).

See how happy I was?? LOL 😀

Papa and I went out for dinner later that evening and watched a traditional Apsara show at Bayon II (US$12 pp), as recommended by the hotel concierge. I’m not sure if he got a commission for the referral (which is the norm in Siem Reap), but it was a good show nonetheless.

Note: The best show I’ve seen, however, was at the custom-made Apsara Theatre at the Angkor Village Hotel & Resort during my last visit in December ’10. US$23 – US$26 pp.

With the overwhelming day coming to a close, Papa and I went back to the hotel and dozed off — happily bulging tummies and all. 🙂

NEXT UP: Seeing the Angkor Temples Up Close for the First Time!


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