Seeing the temples in Siem Reap is a must, there's no denying that. It's just what you do when you visit.
My first day and a half were spent exploring the big hitters in the Angkor area. Phnom Bakheng, Phimeanakas, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm,Bayon and Baphuon. They were as expected, mesmerizing. There's just something spectacular about walking those ancient temples. It's almost surreal.
Although the experience is one you shouldn't miss, it wasn't exactly the most fun. The humidity during my stay was brutal during the day. Walking from temple to temple had me sweating and longing for even a whisper of a breeze. I sought refuge inside the temples when I could but for most of my sojourn I was at the mercy of the open sky.
So yeah, day two was not going to be a repeat.
I looked into alternative activities to do in Siem Reap and discovered that I could take a boat ride to a floating village. Surely being on the water would be way better than trudging around in the heat.
I spent the morning in the center of town eating breakfast at Central Cafe, which is great by the way if you want a break from local food.
Then I explored Chsar Psar, the local market where I took lots of photos and did a little bit of shopping. It's a great place to pick up beautiful sterling silver trinkets as well as other souvenir items.
My driver picked me up and off we went on the hour long journey to Tonle Sap to take the boat to see the floating village of Kompong Phluk. There are two other floating villages but this one was suggested by my driver because it's closer to Siem Reap and it offered a more authentic look at what life is like in a floating village. Apparently the other village closer to Siem Reap is a tourist trap to be avoided.
The ride to the boat was great. I opted for a tuk-tuk which gave me the opportunity to see the area as we drove. Once we turned off the main road and on to the dusty road, it was like entering a different world. I loved seeing the houses of all sizes and decor hoisted above ground on stilts. They were different from the houses I had seen in town.
It was a long drive but I really enjoyed it and the humidity and heat weren't bad as a tuk-tuk provides lots of ventilation.
The cost to go on the boat is twenty dollars, a bit steep but I think it was worth it. Since I was a party of one, it was just me, my driver and the captain of the boat.
It was nice to not be stuck on a boat with a bunch of strangers. I was able to move about freely and take pictures to my hearts content.
Even thought the water levels weren't high because it wasn't the rainy season and the houses didn't actually appear to be floating, it was interesting seeing them on the stilts. It was like seeing the skeletons of the body and getting an up close perspective of how it operates.
It was also insightful to witness how the people of the village went about their day to day life on the lake. My driver told me that the people rarely left the village as it was the only life they knew and were accustomed to. There are schools, doctors and pretty much anything they needed right there on the lake.
The ride lasted about ninety minutes. I was really happy that I had opted to forgo the other temples for this excursion.
I highly recommend visiting Kampong Phluk if you're in Siem Reap.