[Siem Reap] ~ Streets of pubs, happy pizza, fish tickle and happy people

Varied kinds of happiness all reachable by feet.  – 04.19.14

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It was a day in this city I did not expect to be memorable as it is more an interim to an expectedly long day at the temples the following day. Little did I know that wandering in places near my hostel could bring out different kinds of happy.

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IMG_1582I had to leave Phnom Penh with a heavy heart and at such an early time of day. Getting to Siem Reap took around 6 hours of travel by land, this time spent most sleeping with my equally sleepyhead (and seemingly grumpy) seatmate – quite a contrast to my friendly seatmate the previous day. Worked in my favor though as I was in the mood that day for some quiet.

IMG_1423 Not sure how significant that temple is, but that we quite a view against the sunrise.

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Some waiting time at the Mekong Express bus terminal 

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Maybe when I have more time, I can just hop on a bus and explore these unknown areas

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In the Philippines, we call this “kuliglig”

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I could not make out where the street is

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And someone was sound asleep

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That kind of ride

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Usual foot shot

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The terminal where we were dropped off was unexpectedly far from town so there was some momentary panic on my end as I thought it would be a problem finding my way to the center. A part of it could be due to some trauma leftover of my previous transport experiences in Ho Chi Minh. Luckily though, I was able to easily score a “tuktuk”. Also quite a relief that I had an immediate sense that locals are not as ‘scheming’ as those in Ho Chi Minh. In hindsight, it was the same friendliness as those in Phnom Penh so it must be the Cambodians who maybe are generally more tourist-friendly than Vietnamese. (I could be wrong of course but at least from this trip, that is quite my ‘conclusion’).

It was another luck that when I arrived at hostel and realized that while I rented a 6-bed shared dorm, I had entire room to myself. Again, quite a happy event in contrast to my situation in Phnom Penh when I was assigned to a fully occupied room. I was able to pick my own spot – luckily this time one that did not require me to walk like a cat, always mindful not to disturb the person on the underbed.

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Am sure hostels do this all the time but the first time that I actually saw this board that lets travelers find tour buddies, so to speak

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Hello there, my bed

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Poor mosquito. We dislike you and only you.

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Backpack overload

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Lazy is the new black (but I shall not be one of them)

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As always in my trips, since time must never be wasted by lazy, I just freshened up a bit and immediately did my wander despite the hot afternoon. I immediately felI in love with the neighborhood during the first few minutes as literally just a few steps away was this bookstore selling pirated Murakami books and interesting stickers. I spent quite an ample time picking anything that interests me then eventually trimming. I knew myself too well that I was thinking this binge-getting is okay as I am practically buying these for“pasalubong”/take-home only to realize later on that I bought everything for myself.

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This gem of a bookstore nearby

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Pre-loved books are love!

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..and random stickers too!

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FanGirl Mode with those Murakami books

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Wanted to unstick those stickers and just re-stick loosely.

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IMG_1582While my pre-trip research told me that hostel is near this famous nightlife-busy street, it was nonetheless surprisingly that near and that while it is far from night, that street’s life apparently starts early. Immediately loved the vibe of this strip called Pub (and personally, slash-Souvenir Shop) Street. Quite a downer though that beer is not as cheap as in Ho Chi Minh. I then had to keep on walking along the streets, randomly comparing beer prices. In all my attempts to save, I ended up spending more due to encounters with various finds from a straw hat (hey, that was functional!) to cigarettes to spices and even a hammock. Good then though as I was able to put some checks on my “pasalubong” list.

Walked around the area multiple times, oddly finding looking at restaurants and shops enjoyable. Spent some sitdown to eat some local veggies and a beer. I intended to chill and people-watch but my itchy feet kind of pushed me to walk more.

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Relaxed afternoon at Pub Street

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Most shops are open but there is less crowd. Perfect for strolling to shop- and people-watch

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And taking some ‘obligatory’ mirror selfies

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Handmade items, which of course, come with a price

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There you are, Pub Street.

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More quiet part of the area – maybe because most are bars. I bet this is liveliest at night

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This famous pun-ny Angkor What Bar

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But seemingly a dead bar

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Randomly chose a restaurant and had this leafy dish 

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This street food a bestseller but was full and not curious enough to even try

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When tired from walking, spent my favorite time of day satisfying my curious craving of that ‘happy’ pizza which I initially thought is only available in Phnom Penh. Lucky me had my hand on this food and pub guide around the area so I discovered that there are happy pizza places on the street across Pub Street.

Spent my favorite time of time finding ‘happiness’ in a pizza. I chose to be on the safe side and choose I think the mild or middle level of happiness. Barely had an effect on me though but it was quite interesting how this bunch of guys who were the only guests beside me each had a pie and a large bottle of water (would understand this the following day when I had my second serving of happy pizza. More on that on my next entry)

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Sok San Road

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With that giant beer, I love Cambodia more!

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Those green sprinkles supposedly to add “happy” to this pizza

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IMG_1582Right after pizza was another to-do – feet-tickling time at a fish spa where I met this loyal fish which I named Blackie (sounds like a dog’s name, I know, but he was just intensely black I thought the name was a fit). Most of his fishy friends tend to just go where to new customers who they feel may have more dead skin cells (hmm can they really tell?) but Blackie stayed with me the entire time – moving from one leg to next. Apart from Blackie, also exchanged glances with other tourists enjoying how their feet were being tickled by those fishes – most remarkable of which are those girl buddies and this lovely couple.

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Yum. Yum. Yum. Those dead skin cells.

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Okay, a selfie. Actually just one of many.

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Blackie!!

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This bubbly girl

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After about an hour at the spa, I walked back to hostel to pack my clutter in the 6-bed dorm room which at that time, luckily was still all mine. While packing, tried that awful coffee-tasting but relatively strong beer at 8%.

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For me a bed always functions like a table, and a cluttered one at that

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Am starting to hypothesize that the higher the alcohol content is for beer, the farther it tastes from what I consider to be beer

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IMG_1582Headed out again to night market just right across Pub Street before going back to where the ‘action’ was to try this Tomb Raider cocktail at Red Piano. As a cocktail, it lacked the buzz so I just fancied myself people-watching before deciding to go back to walking until I came across this chaos in front of a transformed Angkor What – from its afternoon slumber to its insomniac high at night. Together with other curious people, spent some time watching those drunk, or maybe just happy crazies dancing on top of tables and battling it out in some kind of showdown. Even managed to take home a video of these crazy guys who danced in front of my phone. Okay, that should have been my cue to leave, right? It became more interesting though when they started bringing in this local kid to do dance showdown with them that I stayed for a bit. Crazy.

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Is it just me or do they not look alive?

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Highlight amid black

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Hanging bridge

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Floating cubes

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Not so crowded night

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Bored.

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Tomb Raider cocktail at Red Piano

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What?! Angkor What at night.

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Perfect picture of dancing like no one is watching

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Curious mob

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(And since this is very late post, I could not remember the help-other-traveler details. I ask for forgiveness. And wish me the drive and time to work on my day 2 in Siem Reap so I can proceed with the rest of my backlog of entries for trips to Kota Kinabalu and South Korea)
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