Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Victoria Angkor: First 2 nights in Siem Reap

When your boss offers you two free nights in a 5-star resort for your first two nights in town after a long, sticky journey. you should take it. Tim won the stay at a charity pub quiz raffle and thought it seemed silly to stay in town when he had a perfectly good apartment to sleep in. Sure. I've fantasized about a "staycation" in New York before, but luck doesn't have me winning any raffles!

Needless to stay, the Victoria was gorgeous and I felt embarrassed when the wonderful front desk staff pulled my stained, old suitcase into their vintage elevator to head up. Built in the 1930s, the hotel sits in the middle of "Royal Park," a stretch of green gardens dotted with pagodas. The king's palace is in the gardens, so it's his spot whenever he's in town. I asked Tim if it was a big deal when that happened--I've dealt with Obama traffic in LA--and he laughed and said that he was just a figurehead.

It's the height of the "low season" here, leaving the hotel pretty empty, which I enjoyed. I rarely ran into anyone walking around the floors save for tons and tons of geckos both large and small. Both mornings I met Tim for a huge spread of breakfast which ranged from exotic fruit to waffles to sushi and miso soup washed down with as many refills as coffee as I could get. We tried the saltwater pool one evening expecting a refreshing dip in the midst of the heat only to jump into a bath. Sure that they were heating it we brought the issue up to the manager the next morning during breakfast while he sat with us and drank tea. No, it's not heated at all, it's really just that hot.

I walked back and forth down the river those first two nights to head out to dinner on "Pub Street" in touristy downtown. The river path is beautiful but treacherous and I hope to learn how to cross the street in a more effective manner. At night, hundreds of birds screech as they fly out of trees and each "tuk tuk" driver beckons to me on the street as a target for a ride. 

Sad to go, but on to the real world, or, the Golden Banana!