Pyjama party in Siem Reap
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.