F Through the gate of Angkor - jeepneyjinggoy

Through the gate of Angkor

Another dream coming true.

So it’s finally going to happen. A visit to the magnificent Angkor Wat is in my bucket list and the chance to do so fell on my lap. Veron asked if I wanted to join her and Googie to Cambodia and share their room at the Raffles Hotel. How can anyone decline?

At that point, I can’t pinpoint which I was more excited about – the chance to see the temple I studied about in my college Architecture class or staying at the posh address. It had to be a tie. It was going to be a first for me on both accounts and I have to enjoy both to the fullest. A blessing indeed!

These days, everybody can travel, thanks to the low cost carriers. The destinations on these carriers’ manifestos are just unbelievable and seem to be growing by the minute. You just have to be quick in grabbing the offer on the dates you wish to travel and keep an open mind that whatever happens on your travel dates, doing a Claudine B. won’t get to your destination faster. Positive thoughts will attract the good vibe and contingency planning is of utmost importance (like staying overnight in Manila just in case the Davao-Manila route cancels or reschedules).

Siem Reap is a new route for several of the local LCCs and the seat sale paved my way to another dream destination. The hotel is a bonus. Happiness!

Veron, who’s been to Cambodia several times automatically became our appointed tour guide, planned our trip for seven days. It seemed long just to check out the temples of the province, but not with a three-day side trip to Phnom Phen to check out the killing fields. The time frame sounded perfect, there won’t be the need to rush to check out the tourist spots.

The evening flight to Siem Reap had occasional bumps but otherwise fine. Sleep, of course, was evasive due to level of excitement turned to high with this trip holding a lot of firsts for me.

With travelmates- Veron, Googie.

Entering the gate of Angkor (read: deplaning), Cambodian hospitality scored high. Instead of directional signs to immigrations, a local lady led the way. It was like welcoming us in her own home (the airport looks like an Asian manor) and showing us around.

The Gatekeeper. Showing us the way to Cambodia Immigrations.

Clearing immigrations was a breeze (except on my turn when the computer broke down and had to be reset. People were staring as to why I was taking so long) and we quickly booked a cab for US$7. Fair fare for three considering the hotel was not too far from the airport.

Siem Reap's squeaky clean airport.

All aboard!

Meet Lucky the cab driver. In the Philippines, he would be Ate Vi won't allow him to do this.

The late hour ride along the main road of Siem Reap was quiet. Even with the huge new hotels along the road, the vibe of the place was still that of a province. Is it the same all over town? I will soon find out.

In the meantime, it was time to get some rest on my first Cambodian night. Raffles Hotel was lovely, even made lovelier with our room upgrade to a villa, our own little house with a garden by the huge pool. This trip is going to be great.

I can get use to this.

Our welcome drink came in of these. This is Googie's.

The path to paradise.

A room upgrade!!!! YES!!!

We are not worthy..... Thanks Veron!

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in Sun.Star newspaper on August 9, 2012.