My First Weekend In Siem Reap
I exited the plane and looked across the pavement at a building that looked like a first-rate spa. I thought to myself, “this is the airport?” I managed to get my visa in minutes but spent a bit longer waiting to go through customs. I met Romain (a co-worker) outside the airport and we loaded my luggage into a tuk-tuk and headed to my new home.
The house is a french colonial building with tile floors, a sweeping staircase and wrought iron gates across the windows and doors. It’s beautiful. The offices, kitchen and dining area are on the first floor while a lounge/meeting area, balcony and bedrooms are on the second floor. I have my own bedroom and bathroom (and yes Mom, there is air conditioning and plumbing!), perhaps the nicest bathroom in all of my apartments outside of the parentals home. There is also a staircase at the end of the hall where the bedrooms are that leads to the roof deck where we can watch the sun set over Siem Reap. Very picturesque.
I arrived at the house around midnight and began unpacking and settling into my new home. Laid on my bed was a welcome package from Elizabeth that made me tear up instantly. There was a gift voucher for a mani + pedi at a local spa, earrings from her shop, a guide of downtown and a journal and goodies from her friends Don & Loven’s shop, Poetry. By 2am I was ready to shower and sleep. Imagine my surprise when I heard knocking on my door at 8am and opened it to find Elizabeth standing there with Diet Cokes in hand. We chatted, hugged, laughed and plotted the weekend.
I took a small siesta after Elizabeth left then went downtown with Romain and his girlfriend Lisa. We stopped for lunch and I had Khmer curry – chicken with coconut, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes. Delicious! Then we walked around the old market and visited the local pagoda. I met Elizabeth for dinner at V & A (vegetables & alcohol) and we caught up on everything that’s happened in the last few months. By the time we had finished eating, I was exhausted and ready to sleep.
On Sunday, I slept late and enjoyed a slow day. I ventured into downtown by myself to grab lunch, visit Wanderlust (Eliz’s shop), Poetry and the DVD shop. I read the Alchemist while eating spring rolls and coconut soup. I watched all the tourists making their way through Restaurant Alley. I took an afternoon nap before meeting Elizabeth, Don, Loven and Faith for dinner at a Burmese restaurant. The food was so good we all wanted to dive into our plates. Don is a fashion designer and museum curator. Loven is a graphic designer, photographer and fine artist. Faith is Loven’s wife and a pr/marketing guru. We talked a lot about fashion and the up&coming art scene in Siem Reap. (I’m going to be featuring some of Loven’s amazing artwork & Don’s beautiful clothes on Constant Cravings, so keep your eyes open for that!) We laughed. A lot.
After dinner we headed over to the Warehouse for a goodbye party. Fellow Americans Jason & Shannon have lived in Siem Reap for a year and a half and are now returning home to finish the book they’ve been writing. It was nice to meet them and a bunch of other expats. I felt like I belonged. It was a wonderful evening and a great welcome to life in Siem Reap.