Published: December 12th 2006December 12th 2006
As all good blogs start, we started on our bus journey to Siem Reap. This time the bus was completely full, and even more so after a couple of hours - we picked up a few more people who had to sit on plastic chairs in the aisle!
We had one interesting stop en route where we saw a local delicacy being served up - fried tarantulas! We saw a lady picking through them, obviously seeking out the best specimens. I am not sure what defines a ‘good fried tarantula’, whether it is the crispier the better, or the juicier the better. That was one thing that Rob and I passed on trying, especially with another few hours on a bus a head of us!
Nobody had prepared us for the number of tuk-tuk drivers that lay in wait at the bus stop in Siem Reap. They were banging on the windows of the bus trying to get our business before we had even got off the bus. Once off the bus they just pounced all trying to get out business. Rob managed to clear us a bit of breathing space, by throwing his backpack over his head, pretty
much taking anyone out who didn’t step back. Once we had established that we were too far away from the centre of the town to walk, it was a matter of selecting a tuk-tuk driver. We ended going with the guy that had spoken to Rob first as his English was good, with a view that he would be a good driver to have for our visits to the temples over the next couple of days.
The driver took us to the guesthouse that we had selected, and there were rooms. We then went out to explore our new surroundings. Siem Reap is a small town (even I can’t get lost here!) and most people are only here due to its close proximity to Angkor Wat and other temples. That afternoon we decided to go for a full body massage, our first since coming away. Not sure at points whether it was enjoyable or not, but we both felt relaxed afterwards.
That evening we ate at our guesthouse, where they knocked up some surprisingly good houmus and toasted baguette. We had a relatively early night, as we were off to see the temples the following day. We had
opted not to go and see the sunrise at this point, as that would have been a seriously early start to the day.
Our tuk-tuk driver was waiting outside the guesthouse the following morning sporting a Chelsea football shirt (Rob had made up the previous day that he supported Chelsea to make some conversation instead of saying that he didn’t support anyone in particular!). Our carefully selected tuk-tuk driver then said that his uncle would have to take us that day, as he had to collect his sister from the capital - so much for trying to be clever!
We got to the site of the temples and turned up at the first and there were coach loads full of tourists - disappointing. The temples themselves, as you can see from the photos were impressive. We found at Bayon that once you went down a floor you could be completely on your own to explore which was far more enjoyable than dodging people trying to take a multitude of photos - hat on, hat off, umbrella up, umbrella down - You get the picture!
After about 5 hours it started to rain. We hadn’t brought our waterproofs, and
we really had seen enough temples for one day. So we went to visit the landmine museum. It was set up by a guy who had been a child soldier for the Khymer Rouge. He now goes around detecting and removing landmines, and teaching others how to do the same. He has also taken in many children who have been the victims of landmines, and their stories were there to read. It was very interesting, and we met some of the children. We bought some t-shirts to support them, as for every $3 they get they can take out 3 more mines.
The second day we went to see the big attraction - Angkor Wat. It is impressive, and it is hard to imagine how many people, and the amount of time it would have taken to build such a thing. We went at about midday, which was a good choice as lots of the coaches were heading back to the town for lunch, making it quieter for us.
That evening we went to see the sunset - it sounds all romantic, but not when you are surrounded by at least 300 people doing the same thing! The
sunset over some fields, nowhere near any of the temples to get any good pictures, and it was also a bit cloudy.
We decided to call it a day, and headed down deciding to escape before the masses. We then got caught up chatting to specialist nurse from the UK, and so by the time we left we were with the crowds - Oh well!
We are having a quiet day today catching up with bits and pieces. We are going to look into getting into Thailand, probably tomorrow. We have got another day left on our temple pass, but we are all ‘templed out’ now!
There are more photos below