Once I arrived in Siam Reap, I decided to take it easy. Saleem and I planned on staying three whole days so we weren’t in any rush. The first day we both slept in late and wandered around the small city. I researched different restaurants and cafés in the afternoon and one really spiked my interest. It was called the Peace Café. The advertisement in the tourism brochure boasted of fresh fruit drinks, a meditation hut, yoga classes and healthy dinners. After spending the day walking around and getting a massage, a relaxing and healthy dinner seemed like the way to go. When I walked into the front yard of Peace Café I immediately felt at easy. Tables with papasan chairs sat in the shade of fruit trees and prayer flags flapped in the wind over our heads. We had a delicious vegetarian meal and fresh fruit juice. I also checked what time yoga was being held the following day. After a relaxing dinner we headed back to the hostel, but before we reached home we did a little bit of shopping. Saleem bought a pair of loose pajama pants and I picked up a pair of really loose capris. I saw the pants so many times in Thailand, but I never had the urge to buy them until now. They are really comfortable and airy, but after wearing them a couple times they became a little too baggy. I’m scared that the deep purple color will run onto the rest of my clothes if I give them to a laundry service with the rest of my clothes, so I’ll have to wait until I get home to wear them again. Once we got back to the hostel we looked up a few different ruin sites that we wanted to visit the next day. We didn’t have a set agenda in mind; we figured we could leave that up to the tuk tuk driver.
The next morning Saleem and I went to peace café for breakfast. I ordered “The Yogi” which came with 2 pieces of wheat toast with orange marmalade, fruit with muesli, yogurt and French press coffee. It was nice to finally have dark, rich coffee again instead of super sweetened Thai coffee. I also loved the wheat bread and marmalade; it had been so long since I had anything other than white bread. The fruit salad was made up of oranges, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, apple and dragon fruit; it was delicious. The breakfast platter was really filling yet it left me feeling light instead of weighed down and tired. After breakfast we found a tuk tuk driver to take us on a tour of Angkor Wat.
On the way to the ancient ruin sites we pulled into a ticket office. Until then I didn’t know I had to purchase a pass to the ruin. Usually my Lonely Planet guidebook mentions things like that, but not this time. I bought the one-day pass, which cost $20. I was a little bit bummed because it was an unexpected expense and a big one at that. After being dropped off at over ten sites over the course of five hours, I realized a one-day pass was more than enough. I wanted to be more excited about all of the different sites, but by the end of the day I was so tired that I didn’t want to get out of the tuk tuk. After awhile all the different areas blend together and start to look the same. I wish I could have had more information available to me while I was touring each one; I think each site’s story would have helped me to realize the differences and importance of each one. Nonetheless it was really cool to stop and appreciate the different styles of architecture and art displayed at each ruin. It was mystifying to try and picture people building all of these enormous, ornate buildings without modern tools. It was also really neat to see how the ruins were being restored so that future generations could appreciate them. I hope my money was going towards the restoration efforts and not to pave the highway to and from Angkor Wat or something like that.
While I toured the ruins I tried to get inspired with my photography, but I found it really difficult. There were a lot of people that I had to try and work around and the sun was just plain ugly. It was high noon so the light and shadows weren’t picture perfect in any way. When I got home and looked at what I shot I realized almost all of the photos were just of the ruins. I failed to incorporate a subject in the photos and to me they seemed quite boring. I did have a few overriding themes on my contact sheet. Some aspects of the ruins stood out to me again and again like the naked ladies depicted in doorways, on walls and in sculpture form. I also took a lot of photos of mold and moss and the large faces at the various sites. I really wanted to capture the larger than life essence of all the stone heads in Angkor Wat. Everywhere I looked, a large stone face was staring back at me.
After we had enough of the heat, sun and sites, Saleem and I headed back to the city. We decided to eat at the Peace Café again for lunch. Just walking into the yard and relaxing on the chairs in the shade took a huge weight off my shoulders. I wanted to sit there forever, which is why I’m going to bring some Peace Café inspiration to my yard this summer. After lunch I took a much-needed nap and caught up on some reading. We decided on Mexican food for dinner, which turned out to be really yummy.
The next morning, I woke up early and walked over to the Peace Café for a yoga class. I was really early, which was nice because then I had time to just lie back on my yoga mat and relax. I didn’t have a care in the world. A half hour later class started. By that time the instructor and six other people showed up. For the next hour and a half we focused on breathing and deep stretches. It was a pretty slow paced class. I was expecting something more challenging; I kind of wanted a work out, but in the end I was grateful for the time I spent stretching and thanking my body for carrying me around to all these great places. After class I walked down from the studio to find Saleem waiting at our table under the trees. I ordered “The Yogi” again and fully enjoyed my toast, marmalade, fruit salad, muesli and yogurt. This time I ordered a tea plunger instead of coffee and I was delighted when it turned out to be ginger tea. After a long relaxing breakfast, Saleem and I decided we wanted to lay low and rest again since the next week would be packed with travel. We ended up paying $5 to use a nearby hotel’s rooftop pool for the day. It was exactly what we both wanted and needed. Siam Reap was extremely hot and the pool was the perfect solution. We spent the whole morning there and only left for lunch.
We both got great salads on Pub Street. We also took advantage of the restaurants happy hour. I ended up drinking four mojitos in the course of an hour and a half and by the time I got up from the table all I wanted to do was sit back down again. We made our way back across town to the rooftop pool where I quickly fell asleep on a lounge chair. I woke up a couple hours later with a horrible hangover. I hate drinking and I rarely do it. Every time I end up in pain and misery. I always promise myself I’ll never drink again; this time I’m going to listen to myself. The whole night my head was throbbing. We went to dinner thinking food would help the situation. We went back to the same place on Pub Street since our salads were so delicious. Unfortunately the music on Pub Street was blaring. Every time the bass thumped I wanted to crawl under a rock and that happened approximately every other second. Besides the bass from the various clubs, there was a traditional Cambodian band playing on the street corner and it was not pretty. Long, squeaks from a flute and constant tapping of a tambourine made dinner unbearable. We moved to the very back of the restaurant, but we just couldn’t escape it. To make matters worse, we both ordered meals that were absolutely terrible. The whole dinner we talked about how yummy our salads were. We should have stuck to our guts and gone with what we knew rocked, but we took a chance instead. We left our dinner half-eaten and slinked back to the hotel to go to sleep. Our flight to Malaysia left at 8 a.m. the next morning. All I wanted was to wake up without a headache and thankfully I did.