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The road to Siem Reap

Indochina Day Four

View Indochina 2020 on ToonSarah's travel map.

After a much better night's sleep we were up quite early to finish sorting our bags, as today we were leaving Phnom Penh and the lovely Hotel Anise. Han, who was to drive us to Siem Reap, arrived just as we were finishing breakfast, so after checking out and saying our farewells to the friendly staff, we were off.

Breakfast on the terrace

The drive out of the city took some time, after which our route took us through a succession of small villages and a few larger communities.hoto.

Heading north from Phnom Penh

‘Spider town’

We stopped a few times at Han's suggestion. The first was in the small market town of Skun, sometime spelled Skuon. The market here is famous for its deep-fried tarantulas! We saw these and other invertebrate delights for sale but weren't tempted to try them.

The market at Skun

According to Wikipedia:

‘The spiders are bred in holes in the ground in villages north of Skuon, or foraged for in nearby forestland, and fried in oil. It is not clear how this practice started, but some have suggested that the population might have started eating spiders out of desperation during the years of Khmer Rouge rule, when food was in short supply.’

Arranging fried spiders

The final arrangement

I noticed that many of the women selling the spiders had a penchant for floppy sun-hats ornamented with flowers.


Sellers in the market at Skun

No one seemed bothered by our cameras - some of these photos are candid shots, but I asked permission of the mother to photograph her with her baby.


Sellers in the market at Skun

And it wasn't just spiders!

Crickets for sale

Some sort of grub

Assorted insects
~ and note the striking tablecloth!

On the road

I love a road journey in any Asian country and this one didn’t disappoint – there was lots to keep me interested and to photograph!

Traffic on the road

Hitching a ride

Roadside temple

How many chickens can you fit on one motorbike?!

Local houses

A little further up the road we passed through a village (I think Santuk) where every property seemed to be home to a carver of stone Buddhas and other statues. Han heard our exclamations and pulled over so that we could take photos.

Stone carvings in Santuk

A man was working on a statue nearby, shaping its shoulder at first with a chisel and then smoothing it with a sander, and was happy to let me take a few photos.

Working on a carving

I continued to try and grab photos from the car. I was struck by the ornaments on many of the roof ridges of the houses, even quite basic ones. In one area they all seemed to have beautiful golden cockerels, in others they were simple shapes such as squares or triangles, and many included what I assumed to be the date of construction. I even saw one with rabbit silhouettes, but not in time to snatch a photo.

Colourful houses
~ the yellow one on the right has the ornamental cockerels

Roof detail with date (2002)

Our final stop was for lunch at an attractive lakeside restaurant, Prey Pros. We had a table with a lovely view of the water, with a few egrets and other birds as well as some half-open lotus flowers. My tapas plate of tempura vegetables was huge - Chris helped out, alongside his sandwich, but even so I had to leave some!

View from our table at Prey Pros

Lotus flowers



Distant view

Insect deterrent

From Prey Pros it wasn't too long a drive to Siem Reap, and of course I carried on with my attempts to get some photos as we travelled.

Local houses, with cockerel ornamentations

Roadside scene

Arrival in Siem Reap

We arrived in Siem Reap around 2.30 pm and Han dropped us at our hotel, the Moon Residence. I had thought that here we would meet our guide for the next few days, but instead Han told us, in his somewhat hesitant English, that the guide would pick us up at 4.45 am tomorrow to see the sunrise at, we were left to assume, Angkor Wat. We had no idea of the day's plans after that so any discussion of those would have to wait till the morning!

Pool at the Moon Residence

Our room top left

Meanwhile there was an attractive pool awaiting so I went in for a dip and we spent some time relaxing there with the heady scent of jasmine in the air. We also settled into our room for the next three nights, which was huge and very nicely decorated in dark wood and cream, with an in-room bath tub and separate wet room style shower.




Our room at the Moon Residence

Flame tree by the pool

In the evening we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. I played it safe with pasta as my stomach was still a little unsettled and I didn't want to risk doing anything to spoil the next day's visit to Angkor, which has been on my bucket list for so long!

Posted by ToonSarah 08:19 Archived in Cambodia Tagged lakes traffic food flowers road_trip hotel market cambodia restaurants siem_reap houses insects crafts spiders skun

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I don't know that I would have tried a tarantula either. I'm wondering if the houses had the living quarters on the second floor and the bottom floor was used for storage.

by greatgrandmaR

4.45 wake ip call !!!!! Rather you than me but then I am not a "morning person" as you may remember. This post might be short on words but you excelled with the photographs - as usual!. I loved seeing the live Flame Tree blossoms but was curious as to how the insect deterrent worked?

by Yvonne Dumsday

Thanks Rosalie and Yvonne :) The houses on stilts have several advantages/uses. In many parts of the region floods are common, so of course having your house raised up is a big plus. It also helps keep the houses cooler because the air circulates underneath. They use the area beneath the living quarters partly for storage and partly for shade when outside during the day - which most people are, most of the day.

Yvonne, I'm a morning person but even I find a start that early to be a challenge :) And it wasn't a 4.45 wake-up call but a 4.45 pick-up, so we had to set the alarm for 4.15. It was worth it however, as I hope you'll see in my next entry :) I believe the thinking with the bags of coloured water is that they reflect bright sunlight which is off-putting to flying insects but I may be wrong.

by ToonSarah

I'm not a morning person, either, but for Angkor Wat I might make an exception.
Looking forward to your next entry!

by Nemorino

It really looks like it was fascinating to travel by road from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap. We flew. Phnom Penh domestic airport was tiny. Honestly when we were there there were 4 people in that airport and it turned out we knew the other two. It was really funny. Of course you see so much more travelling overland. The place where you stopped to eat looks very pretty and I like the look of your pool.

by irenevt

So many great photos! You took us along with you, Sarah.

by Lesley Russell

Thank you all

Even though I am a morning person Don, getting up at 4.15 is a bit much for me! And Chris hates it, not being a morning person at all ;) But we have a rule on holiday which is that if it is suggested that something is worth getting up early for (sunrise, balloon ride, early morning game drive on safari etc.) then we do. We can always sleep when we get home!

Irene, we mostly flew between places on this trip apart from this day and when we were in northern Laos. If there's time and the distance isn't too great, I much prefer it :)

by ToonSarah

I've always wanted to visit Cambodia....but I don't know if I'd be able to eat anything during my time there! I have the weakest stomach, and just the sight of cooked insects would turn me off from eating in the country full stop! Lol

by Anna - perth

Hi Anna, good to hear from you :) You'd be all right I reckon - they don't serve insects in the restaurants, only markets and roadside stalls, so you wouldn't have to see them while eating!

by ToonSarah

What a fascinating road trip! Obviously a great way to see more of the country and get great photos.I'm sure I would enjoy it. The cockrell roof 'ornaments' you saw remind me of the "Torito de Pucara" (two clay bulls for good luck, etc.) we saw on roofs in Peru. Wow! 4:15am wake up call! Even though I am a morning person, it would take an extraordinary reason for me to feel good about getting up that early -- so seeing the sunrise at Siem Reap definitely qualifies (as well as the other wonderful reasons you mentioned)!!

by starship VT

Hi Sylvia :) Thanks for mentioning the bulls on roofs in Peru as you've reminded me of similar ornaments I saw in Ecuador and had forgotten until now! I hope when you read my next entry that you'll agree that the very early start was worthwhile

by ToonSarah

Reading what Wikipedia has to tell about Skuon, I guess you really need to be starving in order to eat a spider or anything else for that matter. I asked our guide why they still eat the spiders because now they can eat something else, but besides tourism, it is what they are used to eat ... sounds strange, but I guess, he's right!

by Ils1976

I guess he is right Ils - we were told that the people here see no difference between eating a cricket or spider than eating a shrimp - it's all good protein!

by ToonSarah

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