As we stepped off the plane at Siem Reap International Airport the excitement took over. We were hit by the familiar hot, humid air and the smell of South East Asia. I think this unique smell is a combination of close, muggy air infused with incense, spices, cooking, gasoline, and in the rainy season, wet grass, leaves and mud.
Andy and I are now nearing the end of our first month in Siem Reap. Therefore I wanted to update you on our roller-coaster of an integration and assimilation to expat life here. Just a pre-warning...this is a lengthy post - I'll try to keep future posts on the little but often basis.
Integration and assimilation is normally over in a day or two after arriving in a new place. It involves finding our bearings, discovering how things work and generally getting into the swing of things. This time it's been different. I think this is partly because we've both been to Cambodia and Siem Reap several times before. It's also because we're not just travelling here, but living and working too.
As a result this post is about our 4 week stint house and pet-sitting, and running our friends guesthouse ( Rosy Guesthouse).
A friendly tuk-tuk driver from Rosy Guesthouse met us at the airport as usual. He whisked us straight there where we were welcomed by our friends and partook in several obligatory Cambodia draft beers, before getting settled into our favourite room for a few nights.
We then spent an enjoyable evening at our friend's house, where we had dinner and a good catch-up. We also got a tour of the house we'd be living in for the next 4 weeks and met the pets we'd be looking after.
The following day we were given a thorough handover of the day to day running of the guesthouse. We also got a grand tour of the important places in town that we might need such as the bank, money exchange, wholesalers, markets, malls, petrol station etc.
A Tourist Mecca
As we drove around town it soon became clear that Siem Reap has changed alot since our last visit 4 years ago. It's tourism industry has boomed since we first visited 8 or 9 years ago, which was inevitable given the proximity to the famous Angkor Temple complex.
During our first visit the roads were mainly dirt tracks, with a distinct lack of pavements and just a smattering of guesthouses. Now there are guesthouses, hostels, and hotels everywhere you look.