Northwest of Phnom Penh is another popular city that’s the gateway to the sacred temples of Angkor Wat. Semhal and I decided to take a weekend jaunt in that direction to explore the fascinating sights of Siem Reap. In addition to everything this historical city has to offer, it’s also home to the Angkor Children’s Hospital, a very special place that was introduced to me by a fellow traveler. (Ill describe that farther in the post). For now, lets get out of town!
7:15am – Semhal and I discuss what would be the best option to get to the bus station, a motorbike or… Wait, what’s this? A pink tuk tuk with a matching scarf around the drivers neck? Sold! What a perfect unique handstand shot! I cant dedide what I like more, his tuk tuk or that he’s holding up the hand signal for “Rock on” or “I love you”!
The bus providing us with the 6 hour journey is clean, comfortable and $13 per person.
The first leg of the trip offers up some photos that capture the daily routine of the locals that live in nearby villages.
11:15- Our first pit stop allows for a 10 min leg stretch, bathroom break and quick snack. There was fruit, baked goods, fried plantains and a variety of spiders, crickets, and beetles… or were they worms? I’m not really sure, but either way, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to partake in this local delight!
A young local who didn’t speak English took it upon himself to show us through example, that the bugs weren’t only edible, but tasty too. Can’t you just see it in my face?
11:30- We pulled away and now have turned our focus on the bag of bugs in my lap. Since Semhal is a vegetarian (good excuse for not trying eight legged creatures) it was all on me to embrace this unique tasting.
Cricket, gross. Grasshopper, same. Bumpy worm thing, worse. Tarantula, like teriyaki jerky? Wait for it… Oh, nope… Gross.
We had to work for the other surprise snack as it was a bamboo stick that was properly packed with tightly bound leaves. Once unsealed, we found sticky rice and beans that seemed to be flavored with a touch of coconut milk.
1:20- Honestly nothing much, I just wanted to post this picture because I think it’s beautiful!
2:00- Our last break for lunch captures my eye for another handstand shot, it’s not everyday I get to kick up next to these beasts.
3:58- We arrived at the Siem Reap bus station and were quickly greeted by an adorable tuk tuk driver that led us to our hostel. We had him put a rush on it due to the fact that the hospital was closing at 5p and we still needed time to check in and donate blood.
4:32- When we arrived to the hostel we just put our bags behind the counter to save time as we took off for the Children’s center. Showered by the rain, we ran in mud covered flip flops in search of the green sign that would lead us to our donations.
4:52- As we eagerly entered, they welcomed us with a smile and a direct guide to the donation room.
I’d like to pause here for a minute and personally thank Sabrina, the backpacker I met in Spain last year who is the mind behind encouraging me to check this place out. Her sincerity towards the children and passion for helping them was more than enough to send me on my way.
Step one: Check to see if our hemoglobin number is high enough in the “donating zone”. Unfortunately Semhal’s was too low, so she got served a dose of iron pills (and dietary-nutritional advice from me) to boost her levels with the hope to donate next month. I was in the clear, so I snuck a bite of our handy rice bamboo stick (we hadn’t eaten in awhile) and now I’m feeling ready!
Step two: Lay down and let the process begin!
Step three: Trade in the awkward sack he put on your lap for a goody bag full of sugar crackers, a coke and a t-shirt!
If you ever get the chance to visit this city, I highly suggest going to the Angkor Children’s Hospital and giving 20 minutes of your time for a life enhancing experience. You get to meet the families that are directly affected by your energy and its a guaranteed spirit lifting event!
Serious side note: It’s becoming such an issue that they suggest, “If you’re taken to the hospital and you may need blood… bring a friend”. For more information on the need for supply in Cambodia, here’s a link that was just posted this month in regards to the shortage.