On one of our two non-temple touring days, we hired a tuk-tuk to drive us outside of Siem Reap a ways to a Silk Farm.
The drive was lovely as we got to see a bit of rural Cambodian life. The boys enjoyed seeing all the baby cows. The drive took about 30 minutes down a fairly smooth highway. There was not a lot of traffic, so it was a peaceful drive.
The silk farm we chose to go to is operated by Cambodians from local villages trying to better their lives through learning a trade. They also employ several people with disabilities. Many of the employees have been affected by the disgusting number of live land mines covering Cambodia's countryside. The farm is set up as a tourist location and free tours are offered in several languages all day long. The prices at the shop are higher than at the markets, but you know you are getting the real thing and that your money is going to the people who actually did the work. Derek and I much prefer to spend a little bit more when we know the money is going to the right people.
As a city that thrives off of tourism, Siem Reap provides a variety of dining options to suit palates from around the world. Finding a great restaurant in the downtown area, particularly near Pub Street, is all about picking a food type and a seat. Given the variety of excellent dining options for the foreigners, it was surreal to find only 2 kilometers outside of the tourist area is the UNICEF and World Food Program distribution center. This disparity between the locals and the tourists emphasizes the importance of the foreign visitors to their local economy.
Khmer is the the language of Cambodia, and also the most frequent food choice available. The Khmer cuisine, while sharing a lot with Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, and other southeast Asian food, stands out due to the freshness of the spices used. Our favorite Khmer dish was a tofu stuffed with fresh spices mixed into a vegetable puree. On the menus, there were lots of soups, meat items, and a dish that is called Amok, which is a type of Cambodian curry.
Visiting Siem Reap is not exactly a kids' dream vacation. Walking around old, stone structures where you can't touch anything and have to be (relatively) quiet must be exhausting for a child.
I was really glad that I still baby-wear Oliver as no where we went was "stroller friendly" and it was much easier to have him secured on my back than giving up an arm to carry him. Some of the temples require a lot of balance, and I was really glad I had Ollie on my back and both hands "free" to use the hand rails. I used a Boba Air this trip as it is simply the one my overly opinionated two-year-old prefers right now.
For the Têt Holiday this year, we went to Siem Reap, Cambodia to see the temples of Angkor. These temples have been on my bucket list for years, but I never, ever thought I would have the opportunity to get there. It was an incredible experience. Each and every building we went into took my breath away.
I'm not sure that my children felt the same about the temples, but they did enjoy the tuk-tuk rides and putt-putt golf that Siem Reap had to offer. But let's face it. This trip was more for Derek and me than it was for the boys. I promise we'll do something fun for them for Spring Break.
The blog entries from our trip to Siem Reap during the Têt Holiday in 2014.