After 5 days of volunteer work at Elephant Nature Park, Pete and I were ready for some rest and relaxation. We learned a lot during our time at the park and were feeling very grateful for the experiences we had. We were also grateful for the fact that our trip overall had so many nice contrasts. So far, we had explored cities (Bangkok, for one), volunteered at an Eco-Resort/Charity, island hopped around Phuket, Ko Lanta, Koh Phi Phi & Koh Tao, went to a Full Moon party in Koh Phangan, spent time relaxing, exploring, and enjoying lots of vegan food on Koh Phangan & Koh Samui, meditated, learned about Buddhism, and practiced many forms of yoga at Vagabond Temple, hung out with elephants for 5 days, and now - temple exploration and luxury at a beautiful hotel!
3 Photo Galleries below!
So much excitement, and we're only half-way through the travel diaries! It's been a great balance of work, play, being tourists, and living spontaneously and freely. We have learned so much already about different cultures, the way people live, the issues we face as a society, and we've also grown closer together as a couple.
Let's break down this travel diary by Angkor Wat, vegan food and restaurants, and then some other fun! And please share. Join me on social media and say hello!
The Temples of Angkor Wat
The Temple Complex of Angkor Wat was built from the 6th to the 12th century (I also read 9th - 15th) and is steeped in history. There's far too much history to cover in this post, but there's plenty of information on-line about the rich and tumultuous history of the Khmer people and of Cambodia. It's worth researching and visiting if you've never been (Cambodia, in general, and Angkor Wat, for sure). Angkor Wat is probably the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia, from what I gathered, but there's definitely plenty else to see and enjoy. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Cambodia.
To summarize it very briefly, when the the Angkor Wat temple complex was constructed, the Khmer people fluoresced into the most influential religious, military, and social civilization of all of Southeast Asia. Their reach and authority covered all of Cambodia, as well as parts of Vietnam, China, and across the Bay of Bengal.
We didn't know quite what to expect when visiting the temples. I didn't do an excessive amount of research about them before, as I like to just go where I'm led and learn in the moment, so I wasn't sure if we would be experiencing temples like the ornate, gold structures we saw in Thailand. Angkor Wat is completely different, though! Check out the photo gallery below to see images and get a feel for what it's like to explore through there!
Quote below from UNESCO:
Enjoy the photo gallery below (click on the photo to enlarge it and read the description, if there is one).
All photos are mine. Please do not reuse without asking me first!
We visited the temples for one afternoon and felt that was plenty, but there were some places we still didn't get to see! We were pretty tired and wanted to rest (Pete wasn't feeling well at this point in the trip). I think we got some great photos and saw some amazing sites! The energy in these temples in unreal and magical.
The people are amazing, as well. Our Tuk Tuk driver, Ra noch, stayed with us the whole day and added Pete on Facebook so we could stay in touch. The next day, we noticed it was his birthday. He took us to breakfast so we said "Happy Birthday!" and he hadn't even realized it was his birthday. It was so funny! We tipped him extra, of course!
Now let's talk about the amazing vegan food we had while in Siem Reap!
Vegan Food in Siem Reap, Cambodia
There are many options for vegan in Siem Reap! We used the Happy Cow app (I use it every where and highly recommend it!) and found a lot of choices. I wish we had a few more days there as we didn't get to try all the places I wanted to try. Oh well - excuse to go back! I will say that we had one of our favorite meals in Southeast Asia in Siem Reap (I will cover the top 5 meals we had in a separate post soon, so be sure to check back for that!).
I compiled all the photos below with the names of the restaurants in the caption. Click the photo to enlarge it and get more details on the dish! The links for the restaurants are below, under the photos.
- Banllé Vegetarian Restaurant - This was right near our hotel so we walked here the first night for dinner. The food was decent and the atmosphere was lovely. We wanted to come back for breakfast but their menu isn't great for that.
- ARTillery Café Siem Reap - We also ate at their location in Phnom Penh. We went back for more Jackfruit Tacos! It was near our hotel so we went again for breakfast. Not photographed above is the Avocado Toast that we also had for breakfast. It comes with wilted spinach, tomato & lime.
- Peace Café (our favorite!) - We ate there twice. We went for dinner after visiting the temples and back for breakfast the next day! They also have a shop and offer yoga, meditation and Dharma Talks. We didn't get a chance to partake as the teacher was out of town but it seemed lovely! The shop has artisan and local-made goods.
- Chamkar House Vegetarian Restaurant - Right off Pub Street, a romantic and lovely restaurant that we thoroughly enjoyed. The lighting wasn't great so the photos don't do the food justice (and their presentation could use a boost) but the cuisine is divine! We loved the pasta and the wedding dip, especially. We also tried the Spicy Garden (A soup made from galangal, ginger, lemongrass, tofu & vegetables) which was spot-on but not very photogenic.
The Hotel, Pub Street & More!
We flew from Sihanoukville to get to Siem Reap the day before we left for Elephant Nature Park. We stayed at a hotel called Home Indochine D'Angkor. We loved it so we booked the remainder of our nights in Siem Reap after the volunteer trip at the same hotel. It's really lovely. The service is fantastic, the pool is beautiful, the drinks and well-made and affordable, and Pub Street is within walking distance. There were many vegan restaurants nearby (see above).
We hung by the pool, enjoyed delicious vegan cuisine, and went out on Pub Street. We stopped by a bar called Angkor What? and ordered bucket because why not? See the gallery below for photos!