Cambodia was on our SE Asia route from the very beginning. But we didn't know how long or where to go exactly. We, unfortunately, let opinions on the internet skew our excitement a bit as we heard that Cambodia was increasingly falling victim to tourism...meaning that people were rude, theft was common and places were saturated with tourists. We found a cheap super promo flight back to Bangkok on Air Asia so we planned a good week in and around Siem Reap.
Our first impression of Cambodia was not good...we braved the 9 hour overland border crossing via Poipet and dodged all of the bribes and tourist scams. Well almost...we ended up getting scammed into a $10 tuk tuk ride when we arrived in Siem Reap. All in all, the first day we were thinking that the rumors were true and we were kinda bummed about it.
But boy were we wrong. After our week in Siem Reap, we were straight up bitter that we only planned a week. Cambodians were the sweetest people we ever encountered---EVER. Siem Reap and Pub Street were the exact mix of backpacker town we expected around SE Asia. And not to mention, motorbiking around the countryside and exploring the temples around Angkor Wat completely exceeded our expectations.
Our first glimpse of the temples was actually on my birthday! I'm not so keen to wake up at 4:30AM on my birthday (or any day for that matter) but we were picked up by our very very sweet tuk tuk driver and we watched the sun illuminate Ta Phrom right in front of our eyes! That kicked off a full day of climbing over ruins and venturing away from the main temple Angkor Wat (which isn't the most beautiful one in my opinion!). And to cap off the celebration, we partied into the wee morning hours on Pub Street with 50 cent beers.
More on Cambodia later but this is one birthday, and one country, that I will never forget.