Siem Reap is a historical city with hundreds of temples scattered across its surroundings. And one such heritage site is the Roluos Group of temples.
Wat Athvea temple is among the province’s many medium-sized temples that most people don’t know and see since as they are overshadowed by the likes of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Bayon, Bakheng and Bakong.
Located some 6km south of Siem Reap town, Wat Athvea is an ancient Hindu temple featuring a distinctive design and style of devata (sacred female images).
The design indicates that it was built during the reign of King Suryavarman II (circa 1115-1150 AD) – the monarch who also built Angkor Wat.
Those who visit Wat Athvea temple can opt to lodge in the eco-friendly resort Sister’s Farm Bungalow, which only started operations in August this year.
A real return to nature, the resort features 12 straw hut bedrooms with no air conditioning, no lock and not even a private bathroom.
Sister’s Farm Bungalow co-founder Van Srey Thom, 45, told The Post she and her sister dreamt of building a natural resort as children.
Tattooed Srey Thom said that her co-founder sister first planned to build a campsite, but they changed the plan and built straw huts instead.
Srey Thom, an orphan from Kampong Cham province, moved to Siem Reap in 1999 and worked for an NGO for more than a year.
She had enough money to buy an old motorbike to trade fish at Phsar Chas market. Srey Thom’s business did well and by 2004 she saved enough money to buy the plot of land where the bungalows now sit.
After finishing high school, Srey Thom furthered her studies as a marketing major in Melbourne, Australia.
“When I graduated, I came back to Phnom Penh where I worked as a sales manager until 2018. Then, I asked my sister to move back to Siem Reap and developed her property as Sister’s Farm.”
Promoting traditional rural houses, Srey Thom explained that their resort’s design is more about the use of natural space as opposed to an enclosed design.
Srey Thom also recommends her customers visit Wat Athvea, organising tours when requested.
She said: “Some people don’t know our Sister’s Farm is so close to the ancient temple, just about 1km away. I am pleased to take them there.”
Sister’s Farm has three styles of straw hut: A room with a single bed ($15), a larger bed next to a natural pond ($18) and a room with two beds ($23).
She said that none of the huts have a private bathroom, with guests allowed to choose between a bathroom built entirely out of beer bottles and two outdoor bathing areas concealed by a straw screen.
“We want to start small without investing a huge amount of money at one time.
“But we are planning to build more modern houses equipped with a private bathroom and an area for a living room.
“We’ve also thought of adding a swimming pool in the next six months. We will hire a manager to oversee operations because we have never run a hospitality business,” said Srey Thom.
Sister’s Farm Bungalow is located about 4km from Siem Reap town’s Pub Street on Wat Athvea road, less than 1km from Wat Athvea temple.
For more information, visit the resort’s Facebook page (@sistersfarmbungalow) or call 017 343 561.