Quit yer snickerin’, you dirty birdies!
On our first day into Siem Reap, we got into town at an awkward time. It was too late in the day to waste one of our three days from
our pass at Angkor Wat; but, it was too early for us to just eat dinner and go to bed.
After looking at the bulletin board at our lovely guest house (Happy Guest House), we saw an advertisement for horseback riding at the Happy Ranch.
We decided to head on over for an impromptu horseback ride through the Cambodian countryside.
It’s been one of the best split-second decisions we made on our trip thus far. Upon arriving at the beautiful and tranquil Happy Ranch, we were greeted by its interesting and very hospitable owner, Mr. Sary Pann.
Sary has lived a remarkable life. He was working at the US Embassy when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. As a result, he was able to flee the country, and was granted refugee status in the US.
In 1975, he came to California, and lived there for over 30 years. But, as much as he loved the US and California, he decided it was time to come home to Cambodia.
He came back, and began collecting horses as a hobby. He fell in love with the equestrian life, and opened what he’s fairly certain is the only fully functioning, horseback riding ranch in the country.
We booked a 2-hour tour on the spot, and off we went into the countryside with our very competent guide, Jain. We rode through the farmlands and the rice paddies, passing villages, temples, and homes along the way.
At several points, children would run out of their homes and schools to wave, yell “Hello”, and try out their English on us. Dogs, chickens, and water buffaloes happily joined the melee as a light drizzle fell on the green rice paddies all around us.
It was a veritable Shangri-la, and my only regret is that my butt was too sore to hold up and book another two hours on the spot.
If anyone wants to do something in Siem Reap other that visit Angkor Wat, this is a fantastic choice. They offer everything from 1-hour to full day rides. For those not so confident with their horseback riding skills, they have an option to be pulled along in an ox cart, and they also offer private horseback riding lessons.
Prices are very reasonable, with horseback riding in the country at the time we went being about $19/hr per person. Our round-trip tuk-tuk ride was $12 (inclusive of tip).