Pyjama party in Siem Reap

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We arrived in Siem Reap a little disorientated having spent five hours on a bus watching back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad. Luckily, the Villa Um Theara had arranged a pick up in the form of Mr Chun, who was waiting patiently next to his Tuk Tuk with a welcome sign and a huge grin. We didn’t know it then but by the end of the week we’d be firm friends.

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The big pull of Siem Reap is its magnificent temple ruins and, eager to indulge in the iconic traveller experience of watching sunrise over Angkor Wat, we agreed a somewhat ambitious 5am wake call with Mr Chun before heading into town.

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For some reason we’d imagined the gateway to the biggest religious complex on earth to be a quiet, spiritual place but Siem Reap was buzzy, loud and packed with tourists. There were Tuk Tuks everywhere, accompanied by a never ending stream of drivers desperate to take you home and generally refusing to take no for an answer. Each Tuk Tuk boasted a unique feature, including one that came complete with disco ball and kareoke machine.

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Siem Reap night market was a backpacker’s dream. Every stall was packed with essential traveller accessories: toe rings, tie dye sarongs, anklets, lamps made of yak skin. We decided we didn’t look travelly enough and went on a mission to ‘gap year’ ourselves up. Loo played it extremely safe with a grey sleeveless t-shirt she could have bought in H&M. El purchased a pair of bright red Ali Baba pants… (not worn once since).

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Despite almost being scammed into buying a £30 tin of powdered milk for a baby, Siem Reap was an extremely friendly city. After meeting a barman, who’d previously worked in a restaurant down the road from where we live, we got chatting to some friendly Aussie teachers who were celebrating a mate’s leaving do by getting pissed in their pyjamas.

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They kindly suggested we tag along and introduced us to the numerous bars and nightclubs that line the notorious Pub Street. It was only when a passer-by casually asked Loo: “So, why are you all in your pyjamas?” when she was wearing her ordinary going-out clothes, that we decided to call it a night. We had a 5am start after all.