Cambodia 2014: Siem Reap Lotus Lodge, Pub Street, Chong Kneas Floating Village

Scott and I stayed at the Lotus Lodge for the four days that we spent in Siem Reap. We mainly tagged along on Ant, Ross, Dar, and Chris’s itinerary for this leg of the journey. I had originally planned to travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap via speedboat, but we ran into an unfortunate turn of events at the information counter of the Phnom Penh Airport, in which the lady convinced Scott that speedboats were not in operation because of the high tide, and even if they were, it could take as long as ten hours for the journey. She then proceeded to book a bus ride for us right there and then. Her connection, Link World Guide Travel & Tours, put us on a Sokha Komar Tep Express Limousine Bus, which turned out not only to be slightly more expensive than what we found advertised on some companies in Sisowath Quay, but was also a whooping eight hour journey of hernia-inducing misery. To add insult to injury, we ended up reaching the Lotus Lodge an hour after Ant, Ross, Dar, and Chris, who had taken the speedboat. It was supposed to be the other way around. Wow. Much grievance. So incensed. Very disgruntled. The Lotus Lodge was a sight for sore eyes, despite my disposition when we checked in. That place is a little spot of paradise located on the edge of the city.

The walkway for the row of standard rooms. The deluxe rooms are on the left of this picture, and the walkway there included a beautiful canopy of bougainvilleas.
We booked a standard twin room for USD$100 for four nights. We didn’t have a lot of amenities that the deluxe rooms offered, such as a safety deposit box and a kettle, but this room sufficed.
The charm of the Lotus Lodge lies in its common area. Here’s the pool.
Poolside pool table and dining.
View from the tower! It was really windy up there. That’s Scott, Ant, and Ross playing pool in the background. Also if you look hard enough, you could barely make out Dar and Chris lounging on the chairs behind the foliage.
The resident kitties! Scott figured they were siblings because of the kink in their tails.
One of my favourite experiences here happened right outside the premises- One of the Lotus Lodge tuk-tuk drivers, surrounded by this group of kids, was in the middle of extricating a snake. He eventually handed the serpent to them, and I took this shot of the fiesty group.
Pub street at night is one of the more fascinating places to be in. Sure, the place is positively crawling with tourists and eager tuk-tuk drivers hoping to ply their services, but the lights, noise, and general feel-good vibe made us return every night. Well actually the vast number of food options in Pub Street was why we went back every night, but each time I hoped to be there when people would be dancing in the street to the deafening beat of music blasting from one crowded pub or another. I’m glad that Scott and I were lucky to have caught a massive ‘dance gathering’ our last night there! It definitely was an experience.
Sighted a ‘Keep Calm and Call Batman‘ tuk-tuk on Pub Street.
Here’s a tuk-tuk driver relaxing on a hammock he installed in his vehicle. The people here really know how to take it easy!
One of the popular bars, Angkor What? in the daytime.
I had a Crocodile Burger & Salade at World Lounge Restaurant, in which the ‘salade’ turned out to be the dressing in the burger, instead of the side dish as expected. It was an eye-opener.
Le Tigre de Papier lies on Pub Street – not only does it serve delicious food, it also conducts a three hour cooking class for chefs-in-the-making (with a tour of the market beforehand). I highly recommend eating something before attending though, because I wound up being famished while in class, and subsequently so fatigued after standing for hours that I lost my appetite after.
Fingerroot, Garlic, Shallot, Turmeric, and I’m slicing Lemongrass. These are part of the ingredients to make my Fish Amok dish. After slicing and dicing these ingredients, they were placed in a wooden mortar and pounded into paste.
Finally, we sat down for our feast downstairs in the restaurant! Each of us had made a side dish and a main dish, with each dish a portion large enough for two people, so we effectively had a table fit for ten diners. Photo by: Ant.
Our tutor had also bought Madagascar Plums during our tour of the market, which confused me – they looked like mutated mangosteens when sliced, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was. Also, rambutans in the middle.
My certificate! Our group noticed the misspelling in the header (Le Tigre de Fapier) and it became a running joke.
Ant, Scott, and I paid a visit to one of the famed floating villages in Siem Reap one evening, Chong Kneas Floating Village. It was an adventure involving money, action, deceit, and romance across the great Tonlé Sap – well at least it was to me. A not-so-brief summary of this excursion: Pay the entrance fee at the dock office before boarding a small boat consisting of a driver and a tour guide, just for the three of us. Guide asks if we are interested in visiting the school; we say yes. He also asks Ant if he wants to sit at the head of the boat, which Ant declines. I jump at the chance and eagerly take up the role of figurehead.
Boat brings us to a supply stop opposite the school, where we get coerced by both our guide and the shopkeeper to buy a small USD$20 bag of rice. End up paying USD$10 for two packs of bottled water after some ‘we don’t want to pay that much’ negotiation. The money reportedly goes into both the school and community. Boat brings us to the common area of the school, in which little kids are running around. Deposit the water, and discover a donation box for the school.
Boat brings us to another platform, where an unfortunate crocodile enclosure filled with equal parts crocodile and litter exist. There is also a souvenir shop.
Boat eventually ferries us to another platform to catch the sunset from a higher level.
The sunset is beautiful.