Day 1 - Getting Lost
So, after the obligatory visit to Angkor Wat and a lot of other temples the previous day, we really were craving a bit of an adventure. Adventures don't always have to be heart-thumping, death-defying activities that only crazy people would think to do. They can just simply be putting yourself out of your comfort zone, getting lost in country you've never been to and exploring places you've never seen. It can be that simple and usually an adventure with no set plan always turns out to be one of the best. We love getting off the beaten track and are constantly searching for places that are in a different realm from those in tourist trap locations.
We decided that one of the best ways to get off the beaten track was to hire an electric motorbike and escape to the countryside. Mind you, we nearly died on the crazy roads in the first 10 minutes, but we escaped none-the-less. It takes a little while to get used to driving on the right hand side of the road with almost no traffic lights, but after we got the hang of it, it was so fun to hire the bike ourselves! We'd read on another blog post about the Angkor Wat Silk Farm being a great shout if you are looking for something to do in Siem Reap, so we drove around 17km from Siem Reap centre and spent the morning here. Neither of us anticipated how good it would actually be, it was so interesting to see how silk was made and the best thing came from the fact we were given a free guided tour around the farm! Our guide spoke great English and was a good guy - we gave him a $2 tip at the end of the tour to say thank you.
We set off after the silk farm, mainly looking for places to eat/get a coffee along the way. We spotted a stall at the side of the highway selling fried insects so of course, we had to stop a check it out! The little, old Cambodian lady was selling fried insects of all kinds. We asked her if we could have a mixed selection, she seemed so happy and she started to scoop a generous portion of all the insects into a bag. I'm not joking when I say.. The bag was HUGE! Back in Bangkok, we had tried a scorpion on Khaosan Road, which cost us 60Baht each (£1.50). Whereas, the whole bag from the local Cambodian lady (full to the brim with grasshoppers, silk worms and crickets) cost us $1 (75p). Literally an unbelievable comparison regarding your value for money!
Top Tip - don't fall for the tourist trap options when it comes to fried bugs! You are much better off buying them from a local on a stand for a fraction of the price you would pay for just one bug! The bugs tasted amazing by the way! We researched them too and found out they are literally full of protein!
We spotted a little village/temple icon on Google Maps that looked commutable, so we thought 'Sod it!' and road there. We literally have no clue where we went but it was absolutely amazing! Google maps tried to take us down the main highways, but we rebelled and took the dirt-tracks and the red roads instead. We rode right through the middle of houses dotted along the country side paths, most made of wood and looking as though they were to fall apart at any moment. The others were large mansion-sizes houses with balconies and huge driveways. The contrast between seeing some of these houses right next to a shanty-town type house was insane.
We greeted everyone we rode past, shouting 'Soursday' and giving our biggest smiles. They seemed surprised to see tourists driving through, but were so friendly shouting 'Hello!' straight back to us. We kept driving along the winding roads, navigating ourselves off Google maps, until we finally reached the temple icon on the map. Oh my word, there was literally not a soul in sight. We rode past a few house in front of the temple that all had orange cloth sheets drying outside. We soon realised that this was a monk's village! We jumped off the bike and had a look around. There was a massive temple in the middle with another large house next to it. The smaller temple in the middle was mostly ruins, it had no roof and had bamboo shoots blocking the open windows/doors from being entered. A towering Golden Buddha was on the inside, surrounded with incense sticks and other smaller statues. The whole atmosphere of the village was so desolate, it couldn't have been more off the beaten track!
We headed back, navigating our way through the country roads. We passed so many locals here, many of them walking with a heard of cows or a big cart of goods. At one point, a cow darted out of no where and started charging along the road in front of us! Luckily, we whizzed past it but it was so funny to see! On the way back, we came across the most incredible scene as the sun was setting over the water. We stopped and watched it as it went down, feeling very giddy to be right where we were for that moment!
Day 2 - Tuk Tuk Touring With Bon
The next day, we went completely off the beaten track to a village at the bottom of a mountain called Pnohm Krom. Few tourists visit this mountain, but most of the ones that do will visit for the temple at the top (You need a ticket to enter this temple). We were more interested in the beautiful little village that lived at the bottom of the mountain. Both of our jaws dropped as we pulled up to the village, the houses were tiny and looked even more third-world compared to some of the houses we'd seen the day before. Everywhere you looked, a local was busy working away.
In the rice paddies that surrounded the village, men and women were re-rooting the grass to allow fresh rice to grow through. Another bunch of locals were installing a new water pipe underneath the dirt to allow a newly-built shacks' fresh water supply. Over in the water, a man was wading through, rearranging the nets so that fresh fish could be caught. It was incredible to see all these different sets of life getting by and living the way they did.
The houses were all on stilts as when the waters are high, the houses sit above the water. When this happens, the only way the get around is by little rowing boats. The kids even have get dropped off to the school by boat, we laughed imagining having to row your child to school! There were some very, very skinny cows outside some of the houses, some of which genuinely didn't even look like they could be made into a burger. If you are reading this... You cows have got it lucky back in the UK!!
After returning to our TukTuk driver - Bon, we walked up to the midway point of the mountain. It was a really short walk and wasn't very steep, nothing to be afraid of if you haven't got the best fitness. The views from up here were incredible. A speaker echoed a woman singing from the Muslim section of the village, we soon found out this meant that someone had died. The song is played from 6am - 7pm for 2 days when someone passes away, which really does go to show the beauty of the religions that spread across the village.
We shot some incredible footage with the drone, all of which can be seen here. After this, we jumped back on the TukTuk and drove around the outskirts of the mountain, admiring all of the houses and the people that lived there. The children had just finished school, so we saw so many little cuties walking home with backpacks bigger than them. We stopped off at a hammock cafe on the way home and had a coffee with our TukTuk driver and two lovely local women.
Our TukTuk driver literally allowed us to have the best day! His name is Bon, a picture of him and his number is below. We couldn't recommend him enough! We met him at a cafe we'd eaten at a couple of days before and started speaking to him because his English was great and he just seemed so friendly. He was the one who suggested the mountain trip and said that he hardly ever takes people there. He picked us right on time and made any stop that we wanted him to. We stopped at one point because Jac spotted a ginormous pig on a bridge at the side of the road! We shouted up for Bon to turn around and he did so with pleasure! We chased this massive pig around with the go pro for about 10 minutes whilst Bon sat laughing, then we jumped back on the TukTuk and went along the back streets. We came across this stall selling eggs about 5 minutes later, Bon shouted back asking if we knew what they were and stopped the TukTuk to find out if we wanted to try whatever it was. It turned out to be... Duck Fetus eggs! We jumped out and both gave it a go. They cost 50p for 2 eggs and were absolutely... Lovely! It's one of those things you don't want to enjoy because it feels so wrong looking at a little Duck Fetus but they honestly tasted so nice! Definitely worth a try! After this we headed to the mountain, Bon shouted back information about different hint hints we were passing along the whole way there, stopping if he thought we might want to get a picture or have a closer look. We never asked him to, he just did it out of sheer legendism! We made 2 stops to fly the drone, Bon was amazed by it, it was so cool to be able to show him his world from above!
Adventure rating - 3/10
Fitness Level - 2/10
Fear rating - 7/10 (no one wants to eat a featus!)
Cost per two people - Motorbike $4, Fuel $2, Tuk Tuk (Bon) for the day $20, $10 for food, $1 for the bag of bugs
When we're free