It’s been over 3 weeks since we arrived in Siem Reap. Peeling away the layers of this humid, unassuming town, you soon realise that Cambodia is a complex, misunderstood and agonisingly beautiful country. Its history is fragmented and the pieces look like genocide and megalomania, ancient empires and a complex spirituality.
A morning here shines bright and hot. A hammock swings slowly in the shade. Scooters motor lazily up the road. Even the giant carpenter bees seem to slow down in the heat, bouncing lazily from flower to flower. We have no view from our apartment, which means craning our necks to the sky to see if it’s sunny or cloudy. I make the coffee and Ben makes the pancakes. Mornings are peaceful and usually involve catching up on work and planning the next leg of travels.
During the day, Siem Reap is quiet. The crowds are visiting nearby Angkor Wat or out on day trips to Tonle Sap lake. Especially now it’s the rainy season, there is a softness in the air. It’s easy to find a seat in a trendy cafe and it’s relatively easy to cross the road. Life is simmering under the surface and waiting to emerge when the sun goes down.
Because at night, the hammocks are packed away and the neon lights of Pub Street beckon you. Buckets of cocktails are waiting to be downed and DJs crank up the music. Everyone has had their fill of temples for the day, and the quiet afternoon gives way to clamour and hustle. It’s a town of contrasts and one that has been a joy to experience in its entirety. And I just know there is much more under the surface, just waiting to be discovered.