Snacking by the airport for fun

Beautiful sunset drive to the airport from the centre of Siem Reap city.

People often ask me what my favorite country was to visit outside Canada and I am very biased because I’ve spent three years in Siem Reap and had the time to discover all the places tourists never have time to see, develop lifelong friendships with the wonderful people here and always discovering new hidden gems. I’m not sure what my answer would be if I had lived a few years in Bali, Laos or Chiang Mai.

Hanging right outside the airport gates with Konnitha and her daughter Hannah.

The benefit of living in a new place for a long time is there is always something new to discover, especially if you mainly have local friends and every day can be a surprise if you have an open mind and heart during your stay.

After I finished a 5-hour bike ride in the Angkor complex, which seems to have an endless number of routes, my best friend Konnitha asked me if I wanted to drive with her and her 2-year-old daughter Hannah around the Angkor area and hang out by the airport to watch the planes.

The people who have opened up food stalls right outside the airport gates as more people are spending time watching the planes land and fly.

“You can hang out by the airport?” I asked Konnitha.

“Yes, you can buy snacks to eat and watch the planes. More and more food sellers are setting up their business by the airport because people come to watch the planes every day,” Konnitha said.

Me being a touristy passenger.

So we went on a beautiful drive during sunset around the Angkor complex, bought some snacks to munch on and sat on a mat just outside the airport with Hannah. We saw two planes fly by and it was just a beautiful and unique way to pass the evening.

There is no way I would ever find out you can do this if I didn’t have local friends.

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Picnics by Angkor Wat

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One of the many advantages of living in Siem Reap and having local friends is the Khmer (Cambodian) people can talk to the Angkor Wat checkpoint guards to get you in the beautiful Angkor Wat area for free. Otherwise, foreigners have to pay US $20.

It’s so easy to make friends in town and when you find good people, it’s great to just go with the flow in the day and chill out by the world’s largest religious site anytime.

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Our team played football on an early Sunday morning and we decided to all get breakfast by the temples. As we passed the checkpoint, me and my other Western friend was hiding our faces as our Cambodian friends talked to the guards to say we are just going to the picnic area for some food. So they let us through.

Two of our friends disappeared for 30 minutes to get food for everyone and it was wonderful to have our friends and some of their kids enjoy a great morning by the beautiful water before enjoying a meal together.

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Cycling the Angkor Wat wall

I love joining the weekly¬†bike rides in Siem Reap. Every Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., anyone can join the group in front of the Grasshopper Adventure‘s office close to river and across Peace Cafe. Different people take turns leading the ride, which usually lasts between two to three hours depending how far people go. Whether 2 or 20 people join, the group goes rain or shine.

Going along the walls of the Angkor Wat area is one of my favourite routes and we did just that last weekend. During the rainy season from May to November, sometimes we go on some pretty muddy treks and have to carry our bicycles across the water. But that’s all part of the adventure.

The cheapest places I’ve found for a mountain bike rental for a whole day is $3 US at a bike shop on Sivatha Road within a block of X bar on the same side towards the direction of the roundabout. To avoid handing my passport, I just tell them that my passport is in Phnom Penh on a Visa extension. But they’re trustworthy, I wouldn’t worry about scams at this shop.

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