I was so fortunate that I got a glimpse of both the local life, the expat life and the tourist life in Siem Reap. And best of all, I got to spent a week with amazing friends. Siem Reap was techno music, movies, yoga, markets, temples and so much more. on Saturday morning I got a tuk-tuk to Felix and Flo's house that was just about 20 minutes outside of Siem Reap on an unnamed dirt road in the middle of a local area. I had to call Felix so he could let me in, but my data wasn't working and so I went on a search for the internet. After passing the same smiling woman cooking food in big pots over a woodfire multiple times and walking down a couple of different red dirt roads, chickens scurrying away, I found a place that had wifi and soon was welcomed inside by Felix.
I spent the whole day relaxing and chatting to Felix and Flo in their living room and throughout the day met their housemates Hubert, Dennis and Lena, as well as their adorable cat, Bing Bing.
Picture: I swear, we were actually talking most of the time
We went to the local store to get soda water and limes and the sweet lady gave us a bunch of her limes as a gift.
Felix and Flo love techo (though luckily softer, more "house" stuff) and so at 5.30 we went to Cabo Beach Club for a techno party. It was a really nice atmosphere there and we met up with their friend Gloria and a couple of other people.
Picture: we found Flo's twin and had to take a picture
We spent the evening talking, dancing and relaxing, and when the place closed at 11 pm Gloria, Felix, Flo and I went to get food and then went home.
Sunday was another lazy day.
Picture: every day they let the local boys in to play football in their front yard.
We met up with Gloria, Matthis and a really sweet woman, Millie (from the UK) at Bang Bang Bakery for lunch.
Then Felix, Flo, Gloria and I spent the day exploring local galleries and running a couple of errands. In the evening Felix, Flo, Dennis, Lena, Hubert and I went to the cinema to watch the Joker - it was a really cosy day.
Monday I treated myself to a cheap facial at ISOP Spa and then explored the old market, the 'made in Cambodia' market and central Siem Reap in general. It was really nice to just walk around and for a capital, the city is very lazy.
I met up with Millie for lunch at Vibe cafe and after chatting for a while, we went back to her home and hung out with one of her Swedish friends, Alex.
When I got back home I joined Felix and Flo on a trip to the local market, where we bought lots of food to cook.
We cooked a really nice dinner and Gloria came by to hang out.
We ended up watching the newest Ice Age on Felix's computer and although the movie was terrible, we had such a fun and cosy evening.
By Thursday morning my cold (which I had probably caught on the overnight bus) had reached its height and I was feeling terrible. But I had a deal with Puk, a tuk-tuk driver Millie knew, to drive me around for the day and so by 8.30 am I was on my way to Angkor National Park. I spent the whole day exploring first the massive Angkor Wat, then the highlights of Angkor Thom - the Bayon, multiple temples, the Terrace of the Elephants, the Terrace of the Lepelin King and the Victory Gate.
Exiting Angkor Thom I stopped for a very overpriced lunch and then the adventure continued with the Tomb Raider temple, two smaller temples and the swimming pool of the former royals.
The Angkor Complex was mind-blowingly big and all the ruins awestriking. Although by the end of the day I was drenched in sweat, drained from energy and running out of paper to blow my nose in. All in all, it had been a great day, but after getting takeaway from a nearby vegan restaurant (and picking it up with Felix on his moto) I went straight to bed.
I spent the whole of Wednesday resting and trying to get over my cold. I hung out at Peace cafe until early evening and then took a tuk-tuk into Siem Reap.
There I explored the night market, Pub Street and the Art Center market. I got a $1 meal at one of the street vendors
and took a tuk-tuk home, there met by Gloria and Matthis, who had come over to hang out. I joined the group for a relaxed evening, before going to bed.
Thursday was my final day in Siem Reap and the guys took me with them to work. They got their friend, who is a tuk-tuk driver, to drive us to the very rural school they are volunteering at, about an hour outside of Siem Reap. The school is made up of a sewing room, library, office, kitchen, toilet and two classrooms - all separate small buildings and all open. About 80 pupils study English, sewing and IT at the primary school.
Felix and Flo are helping with starting up farming projects there, so the school can make an income and become less dependent on donations. Their boss told me I was welcome to sit in on an English class, and so I sat myself down in the back of the class to observe. It was an amazing experience and the teacher soon got me involved in the various exercises and at the end of the class got me to introduce myself. Then the pupils got to ask me questions, introduced themselves to me one by one and finished off by singing me a song. After class, I joined Felix and Flo in their tasks of the day and we walked to the plain where they were planning on building a chicken farm, wading through fields and knee-deep water to get there. We burned dry palm leaves until lunchtime and walked back to eat with the teachers. I helped wash the dishes and then the guys took me on a walk through the village (since the lunch break is 3 hours long). The village is just one long dirt road and all the locals greeted us smiling when we passed by. Before long a group of maybe six local men invited us to sit down with them for beers. They knew no English, but we somehow managed to get by on the little Khmer that Felix and Flo knew, body language and lots and lots of laughter. They were all extremely kind men and very curious to know what a young woman was doing just being friends with two young men (I'm pretty sure the elderly guy of the group was trying to wed Flo and me at some point). At last, after about 1.5 hours, we had to excuse ourselves to get back to the school, which was a difficult task in itself and included two rounds of handshakes, many 'Akuns' (thank yous) and a lot of refusing of more beer. Felix and Flo were a bit drunk by the end of it, from being sweethearts and taking my beers for me, as well as having to 'cheers' and drink every 10th second as is the custom. Getting back, their boss showed me the sewing room and the sweet old sewing teacher invited me to sit down on the blanket with her and taught me to make bracelets out of can tabs. And so I sat making a full bracelet beside her, while pupils came and went, all curious and eager to practise their English on me. At one point a group of five giggling and chatting girls sat down around me and started their own work, while I continued on my bracelet, sometimes getting thumbs-ups and big smiles from the kind teacher. When I finished the bracelet and left, all the girls yelled 'bye Charlotte', which was adorable. For me, a day like that hands down beat the Angkor Wat or any other attraction.
Back home I quickly changed into yoga clothes and took a tuk-tuk to the international clinic. There the doctor, unfortunately, confirmed that my allergy has not gone away and gave me a cream to relieve the itching. I then went to the market and got a noodle soup from a street vendor, before joining Gloria and her friend Pia for a yoga class with Millie as our teacher. We were the only ones who showed up today and the class focused on relieving stress, which Millie really did succeed in. It was by far the best yoga class I've ever taken and by the end of it, we sat down in a circle for a cosy girls talk.
It was such a nice evening and after having spent most of my time with guys lately, it was so refreshing to spend some time with girls again. I hugged all of them goodbye, sad to have to leave Siem Reap so soon and took a tuk-tuk back home. I hung out with the guys for a while before hugging them goodbye and going to bed.
And then early the next morning I took the bus to Bangkok. If it wasn't because I already had my busses, hostel and Workaway in Thailand booked I would've stayed in Siem Reap for a couple of more days. Felix and Flo were trying as best as they could to get me to stay for their party Saturday and Millie and Gloria kept forgetting that I was leaving and making fun plans for the coming days.
Cambodia completely unexpectedly jumped to the top of my list of favourite countries, simply because of its people and how fairly untouched it still seems by tourists. I spent three hours at immigration yesterday and then before I knew it I was back in Thailand again. And although I will miss Cambodia, I am also so excited for my final month in Asia. I'm so excited for the Workaway project in Southern Thailand, I'm so excited to see Axel again and I'm so excited to travel with Julie. On the day this post goes up I will have been in Asia for exactly half a year, which is crazy to think about. Now I just want this annoying allergy to go away and then hopefully have the best last month of travelling possible! The