It was a leap of faith for us to book Jetstar flights to and from Cambodia while we were still in the UK. Let’s face it, it was an act of faith to pick Cambodia as a destination, anyway. In these days of ticketless travel, an email and a reference number have to suffice as a ticket but they don’t quite give you the warm, fuzzy feeling that you are actually booked on the flights, especially those that emanate from a city 8000 miles away. There is something reassuring about an old-fashioned physical ticket. Nonetheless, we pitched up at the appointed time in Changi airport where we were, apparently, expected, and got checked in to Jetstar flight 3K599 to Siem Reap in Cambodia. So far so good.
Jetstar is like an Australian (it’s operated by Qantas) version of easyJet and has a south-east Asia hub in Singapore. Two hours later we landed in Siem Reap and used our Cambodian e-visas, also arranged over the Internet from the UK, successfully to enter the country. Leaving the terminal, my initial impression of Cambodia versus Singapore was a little hotter (32°C) and somewhat less humid. Singapore is, I’d say, not as humid as New Orleans but, then, neither is a bath full of hot water. Singapore is getting there, though. Outside the Siem Reap terminal we were met by our delightful tour guide, Selin, also booked online in yet another leap of faith in the UK. Our plans were e-working – great stuff!
Given all the temples – and I do mean ALL the temples – Siem Reap is the tourist capital of Cambodia. Siem Reap, incidentally, means victory over Thailand [Siem = Siam, Reap = defeated, or some such]. We clambered into our personal MPV with our personal driver and personal guide and were whisked off to a very comfortable, pleasantly small hotel called Viroth near to downtown Siem Reap itself. Our room was on the ground floor complete with a private patio by the pool. Nice! (The right picture is the street outside Viroth.)
We’re in Cambodia for 2 full and 2 half days. After a quick freshen up, our guide, driver and small bus returned to take us off to begin our first half day with a sunset “gondola” ride on the moat of one of the many temples, in this case Angkor Thom, for a G&T or three. I was expecting some cheap gin-like liquid but, no, Silen (our guide) produced a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and used it to very good effect. Excellent!
We were the last gondola out for the evening and past several others returning, all of whom seemed as content as we were. As you can see from the background of our rather serious looking gondolier, the theme of white-grey tropical skies continued.