This will be short and sweet! For the two days (coming back later) we spent in Cambodia we only tried a few places (Angkor Wat), and Amok is a MUST! It is the dish that, at least this area, is known for. I’m sure there is a lot more to it, but Amok is comprised of freshwater fish, Khmer spices, and coconut milk along with a million different types of spices. But it is Cambodia’s signature dish, so why not try?
The other main restaurant that we ate here was Cuisine Wat Damnak. This is a Michelin star restaurant. Most of Cambodia’s ingredients are imported from outside of Cambodia, but this restaurant uses ingredients only found within Cambodia making it an authentic experience. The menu changes every week, so you will unlikely be able to feast on what we did, but I’m sure it will be just as delicious! The chef is originally from France but studied in America, then settled in Cambodia. This was one of the most remarkable dinners I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Instead of describing all of the ingredients, I will post pictures of the plates and menu. I chose tasting menu 1, and forgot to take a picture of the first dish, my bad (pictures are in order with menu!). While we usually do “cheap eats”, however, one of our close friends recommended we try this Michelin star restaurant with them, and in all seriousness, it was an amazing experience and one I would recommend with friends! There are plenty of budget options. My secret to finding them is literally just typing “cheap eats” into Google and reading through quite a few articles. I’ve said this before, if you are traveling on a budget, do not bother reading TripAdvisor. They are bubbling over with bullshit.
Ho Chi Minh City → Cambodia! The airport in HCMC was a bit weird. Our flight was leaving at 0820, but the counter to check the luggage was not going to be open until 0630. If you know anything about me, I like to be there a few hours early so I can sit in the terminal to make sure the plane doesn’t somehow load 200 people and leave without me. It took about 30 minutes to get to the luggage counter once it opened; luckily we were like 3rd in line. The luggage prices are outrageous! It costs $65 to check luggage here, I was furious, to say the least. Also, they ONLY take cash. If we had not had the cash I probably would have been throwing a few more “WHAT THE F***s” than I already was. If you don’t have the cash you have to get out of line, find the elevator, go down one floor to get to the ATM, and you better believe when you get back you’re going to the end of the line. The worst thing about luggage lines here is that people feel like they need to pack their whole damn household. After fuming about all of the above, we make it to the security line which is ridiculously long because some of the counters opened a bit earlier so all of those people were in line. There was a single file line that led to an area with about 8 different lanes. Someone eventually unhooked the line barrier and everyone just rushed into a line. We hopped over and ended up in a not so long line. It still took about 45 minutes to get through. By this time it was 0815 and our plane was scheduled for the 0820 still. For the people further back in the luggage line I guess you might get screwed? We really weren’t sure if they just leave them or wait. They drive us out to the tarmac to board an uneventful flight. Our friends were waiting for us in Cambodia to head over to Angkor Wat right away so they hired a Tuk Tuk to pick us up from the airport. I would recommend getting a Tuk Tuk for the entire day of ruin hopping. These ruins are spaced pretty far apart and there are about 20 of them. You could rent a motorbike, but the roads are so full of Tuk Tuks that its easier to hire someone. It costs around $20 a day to hire someone for the day. Also, use Grab! It’s a great app! We bought the three day ticket (which runs about $60), but we knew we would only be there two days. It was cheaper than buying two one day tickets. The first day we visited a lot of the smaller ruins, and our driver found an amazing place to eat along the way for lunch (unfortunately I do not know what it was). Amok is a must try curry dish there! (Can find this under Eatables!) Along with the fruit, fish, Cambodian coffee, EVERYTHING! For the nightlife, I would suggest Pub Street! It looks like straight out of a college town.
The next day we were up at 0530 and headed to the main Angkor Wat structure to watch the sunrise. I would suggest going a bit earlier because when we arrived, there were already what seemed like a few hundred people there. It was amazing though! There are vendors right next to it who unfortunately only see you as a dollar sign. They are aggressive and will follow you for quite a distance. Walter and I were taking pictures and a guard offered to take a picture of us. He did, then he proceeded to ask for a tip. Don’t accept anything unless you’re willing to pay something for it. Also, there are young children asking you to buy things from them or give them money, this is illegal! Just keep walking away.
My favorite temple aside from the main one was probably Ta Prohm Temple. If you love trees, you will absolutely love it here! Our driver took us here last, but I would recommend going as early as you can. It was already quite overrun when we arrived. You will hardly ever get a picture of something that does not have random people in it, unfortunately, and don’t be one of those assholes who will try to tell two hundred people to stop walking on the path so you can take a picture. This is the temple that is famous for the tree growing over the temple. While we all know of that one photo, there are actually many trees that are growing over the ruins. It was so amazing to see the force of nature. One of our friends we were traveling with loves food (in a non-obese way) so he recommended we check out a Michelin star restaurant that was in town, Cuisine Wat Damnak). For $30 a person you get a five course meal. This meal changed my way of thinking. Walter and I never treat ourselves to places like this, but I think when we get home date night will have a new meaning! We only spent two days here this time to accommodate their schedule, but we will be coming back in a few months to explore the rest of the country. Off to Bangkok! Hopefully, the baggage is cheaper!