Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cambodia Trip: Day 2 (Part 1) Horseback riding at Happy Ranch Horse Farm

Are you into leisure horseback riding? Even if you are not, you might consider trying it out at Happy Ranch Horse Farm at Siem Reap. Their price goes as low as USD$22 for a full hour ride. Their horses are well-trained and you can experience riding among the villages, breezing through paddy field landscape and even pay a short visit to a temple.

Read more on our experience riding with Happy Ranch Horse Farm.

I’m pretty excited for today because I will be going for a horseback riding for the second time in my life. The first time was way back in the millennia, an era when I still have an eighteen inches waistline. The tuk-tuk driver that I pre-booked online through the Happy Ranch Horse Farm (they claimed most tuk-tuk drivers don't know their mysteriously hidden location) for USD$4 was scheduled to reach at 7.30am. Therefore, we went down to have our buffet breakfast as early as 6.30am. Yes, we need an hour to fully filled our stomachs and ensure that we tried every single dishes available. When it comes to buffet, we are the genuine Chinese from Mainland.
Breakfast at Empress Angkor Hotel
We were finally on a tuk-tuk after seeing some many of them from yesterday. The Cambodian’s tuk tuk was a bigger version compared to what I experience in India. It can easily carry up to 6 slim passengers. The road towards the ranch was very rocky with unpaved road and I felt like shitting in a wooden boat being beaten by big waves.  
Happy Ranch Horse Farm, Siem Reap
Once we reached the ranch, I saw two horses already saddled up for us. After we deposited our bags in their locker and signed a declaration form, we eagerly went to greet the horses like little children visiting the zoo for the first time. Mr B got a chestnut stallion named Aba, while mine was a slightly smaller white stallion named Silver. They were both 12 and 7 years old respectively. I gave Silver a good pat on his neck as if I'm patting a dog, hoping he will behave himself with me. We greedily opt for the 2 hours route and were led by one of their worker. Amazingly, when the led horse started off, our horses automatically followed suit. Even their pacing was similar. Okay, mine was a little side tracked as Silver tried to multi-task by eating and working at the same time. I told him 'no' gently and tried to nudge him to increase his pace, but I am too kind to refrain him.

We passed by the postcard worthy villages and paddy field with livestock. There were many buffalos and duckling waddling by the pond. We also passed by a group of villagers mourning in a funeral ceremony. After an hour of riding, we let our horses to rest under a shady tree. Meanwhile, our derrières have started to ache and Mr B protested that I should have chosen an hour instead of two. Okay, I didn’t know it was that painful. We endured another hour of riding with some trotting being introduced that worsens our condition. However, despite the ache, we were having a grand time. Mr. B was imagining himself as a cowboy in a Clint Eastwood's movie. Yee Hah!

I have to point out that Silver is such a young mischievous horse that he basically kept stealing food along the way (hoping his trainer didn’t see it) and he even stopped to investigate a harmless broomstick. He reminded me so much of my young, Leslie boy. Everything seems fascinating to them.   
Horseback riding at Siem Reap
After a full two hours of riding, no cheat here (the staff did not include briefing and preparation into the riding time, which is great), we reluctantly said goodbye to Aba and Silver. We made our way into the office to retrieve our bags and make the payment of USD$38 per person for two hours of riding.

Our tuk-tuk driver, named Mr. Dara offered to fetch us back to town for lunch and didn’t waste time to offer himself to be our driver to Angkor Wat as well. He seems like a nice guy and he did show up punctually this morning, so we ended up agreeing and hired him for USD$20 per day including watching the sunrise in the morning (he claimed that there is USD$5 surcharge for services before 6.00am).

Before we head back to hotel for a prerequisite rest and nap, we stopped by the Old Market for lunch. This time we walked the back alley directly opposite Old Market and found many outdoor cafe and restaurant with their menu presented upfront. You can check out their menu and prices before sitting down. We ate at Angkor Famous Bar and Restaurant with most of their dishes price at USD$2.50. I had forgotten the name of the dishes, apart from the vegetable was actually morning glory. The Khmer traditional soup was simply marvellous. You must try this dish when you are in Siem Reap. Our lunch costs us USD$8 in total. Quite a good bargain, if I were to say so myself.
Angkor Famous Bar and Restaurant
After fuelling up, we were ready to explore the part of Siem Reap town called Old Market. As the name implies, this is the older part of the town where you can actually find the wet market. The wet market was too crowded for us to get into, so we just walked around it instead. Here Mr. B bought three big packs of local snacks that comprised of mixes of dried pineapple, dried jackfruit and many other dried up fruit variety. Why do people paid for old and wrinkled fruit?
Street of Old Market