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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

See That? It's SEE-uhm REE-ahp!

At Angkor Wat

Siem Reap (shem reep to the unenlightened, and SEE-uhm REE-ahp to those in the know), isn't the most popular country to bring young children. In fact, it's not exactly the best place for family fun.

Ta Phrom - where Tomb Raider was shot

I'm sure a lot of folks have blogged about the place ad nauseam, but I'd like to share, nonetheless, our ins and outs of bringing our 6 year old to the Great Gate to Angkor.

Magnus Akira Xavier aka MAX, dresses up like the locals
Not many of you may know, but our son MAX has a communication disorder under the umbrella of the Autism Spectrum. Being autistic, he has issues with loud sounds, slight discomfort with changes (includes food preferences, new clothes, people and places), and can be (like kids his age) a bit stubborn, minus the talking back.

still pimpin the best tuktuk driver-ever!

Despite being a popular tourist destination, Siem Reap was pretty slow paced. The lazy charm, warm people and rural setting was actually quite welcomed by our son. But, take note, it's not exactly snooze central.

Lucky Mall Supermarket

A majority of the businesses in the city are tourism-centered. You can probably find anything and everything in the city, except for uber cheap food, transportation and goods. This may be a backpacker's fave destination, but trust me, if you had a kid with you, you wouldn't exactly be "slumming it".

overcast skies still tanned our skins :P

Let's start off with peak and off peak. As with the rest of Southeast Asia, we only have 2 seasons: the wet and the dry season. Cambodia goes through the dry (peak tourist season)  from November to May, and the wet/off peak season, with the rest of the remaining months.

Phil scoping out Pub Street

We went during the off peak season, namely July. We were pleasantly surprised that rain showers, though sudden, don't last as long. In fact, much of the time we were there (6 nights and 5 days), 80% of the time, it did not rain and was pleasantly cool and overcast outside. But just in case, an umbrella/stroller rain cover are good things to pack, along with your sunblock and hats.

Accessible by many direct flights, getting there isn't complicated. The airport is small, though quite modern. A couple of places to shop, including a duty free; and places to eat, including a Dairy Queen can be found within it's walls.

pre departure matcha green tea blizzard

drink up, or bid your liquids adieu :)

BTW, Get rid of your drinks and banned objects right AFTER check in, prior to going through the luggage inspection. This will save you a lot of hassle with airport security.

cool and clean scenery towards Angkor Wat

Getting around isn't a problem either. Much of it's 10,299 km2 land area can be explored by bike, car or tuktuk.

Pub Street

Tuktuk rates have gone up apparently, as the average fee for a one way ride is $2 - 3.00 (USD). A tuktuk comfortably fit MAX, Phil and moi, plus an occasional stroller. Got MAX to wear sunglasses though, for protection against the sun and wind, in this open type vehicle.

ATMs at Lucky Mall

Speaking of US $, this is the preferred currency around the city. Almost all shops, local watering holes, and attractions quote their fees/rates/prices in US dollars. The local currency (Riel) is about 1 PHP to 12 Riel or $1 = 4100 Riels. Local ATMs dispense dollars too.
My game face while haggling

While shopping, expect the usual haggling if you're visiting the local markets. Both the night and the old market are stroller accessible. Puddles can be a slight challenge, so be warned. At the old market, ceiling fans can keep the heat at bay, but pushing a narrow umbrella stroller can block a whole pathway.

They have 2 malls in Siem Reap, the Angkor Shopping Center and Lucky Market Shopping Center. You can get most of the known brands of milk, diapers and wipes at the grocery. Diaper cream, paracetamol, bug repellent etc, at the pharmacy beside it. There's also a Lucky Burger (their local fast food) upstairs, with decent fries and burgers, if you're kid's not into local cuisine. More on shopping at this blog link (to follow).

While dining out, worry not! Given that tourism is THE main business in the area, you'll find a great many restaurants in the city. Fried rice were MAX's staples, along with fries and nuggets at a local fast food. The breakfast buffet at our hotel, the Royal Empire had a whole lot of choices. This helped us give MAX healthier food choices, before eating out for lunch and dinner. BTW, there's a Yoshinoya, a KFC and a Hard Rock Cafe already in Siem Reap.

Seafood fried rice - a staple in almost every meal we've ever had in Siem Reap
Here's a list too of the other kid-friendly / stroller friendly places in the area: (I'll try to provide a separate blog for the places in the near future).
1. Angkor National Museum
2. Pub Street (double check which ones have smokers or rowdy tourists first). It's pretty tame during the day.
3. Old Market
4. Night Market

Angkor National Museum

What's NOT stroller and sometimes not kid friendly are the temples. Expect to carry your child (lest he or she whine from the climbing and power walks) or totally sit one out, since it's too unsafe for kids.


Riding a zip line in the jungle or biking around the countryside was definitely out of the question. We also skipped Tonle Sap (the river community) and Beng Melea, due to it's distance from the city. The crocodile farm, Silkworm farm and factories were also something we felt was either a. seen one too many times or b. not our thing.

Phil tries to catch the little fishies with his toes ;-)

Siem Reap also has a lot of Spa and massage centers, even in the market area. Try a fish spa for only $3. It's something your little one may want to do too.

Whatever you do and wherever you go, Cambodia may just have a little something for each and every one of you.

By the way, here's our itinerary:

Day 1: Arrived the night before. Got shopping out of the way. Visited the Old Market, Night Market and Pub Street.

Day 2: Went off to see the temples - After a quick stop at the ticketing office to get a one day pass for the temples, we got to see Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Phrom, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Banteay Srei,  and Prasat Suor Prat. Total time, including lunch at a Khmer restaurant was around 8 hours.

Day 3: Checked out Lucky Mall and went to the Angkor National Museum. Visited the market near us, Phsar Samaki.

Day 4: After all the carrying, stayed at the hotel for some pool time, but went out again to a seafood centre type of restaurant and another restaurant along the National Highway. Could've used this day to head off to the Cambodian Cultural Village, but we were worried how the performances, along with the possibly loud music, could affect MAX.

Day 5: Enjoyed more of the hotel, with lunch at the mall, and dinner, along the National Highway. Flew back home on a red eye soon after dinner.

Our Angkor Wat / Temple Run Adventure

Born To Shop

crunchy bugs to munch on. PS speaking of bugs, bring insect repellant. You'll be needing it in this city.
From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours.

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