Published: April 13th 2006February 27th 2006
I opted for the day pass to Angkor Wat, which Lonely Planet calls "a crime", but Lonely Planet's way too dramatic. Angkor Wat is Disneyworld for fat, middle aged package tourists. They're dreadful! All day long they stepped on my fingers and pushed me around and did not apologize.
So Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world (or so I've heard), and THE tourist destination of south east Asia, and part of Tomb Raider was filmed here. It's dozens of enormous gorgeous ruins in the middle of the jungle and its absolutely swarming with tourists. And rich ones, too. You should see the posh resorts they pack into this tourist town in a third world country.
A day was enough for me. I saw the highlights and I was just one of thousands of tourists but sometimes when you were standing in a quiet corner and the sounds of the jungle could be heard over the roar of the crowd and you could smell the incense it became the holy place it was. It's hot, but they sell awesome snowcones. I give the snowcones of Angkor Wat an A.
Siem Reap's messed up. My motorbike
driver pointed out the massive resort that is owned by the guy who is the sole profiteer of the millions of dollars tourists spend for Angkor Wat passes. He told me how the motorbike drivers have to fight for tourists to drive around and how he was not looking forward to low season, where he might only get 3 jobs a month, and how the Angkor Wat authorities are planning on phasing out motorbike drivers entirely and only allowing official guides in air conditioned cars into the complex. 99.9% of the populace of Siem Reap is in the tourist industry and that's going to hurt, oh of course, the poor people of Cambodia.
I was definitely ready to get out of Siem Reap, I met some cool people and had official Tomb Raider cocktails initiated by Angelina Jolie herself!!! but at night all the beggars and kid hawkers come out. Its amazing how immune you can become to them, I should be disgusted by the quick exit of my empathy but when someone's got their two year old sprawled out across their lap and onto the sidewalk at midnight you kind of get the feeling that they are exploiting
Chatting with the pseudo-monks
they don't really care about Buddhism, they just want to learn English so they hang out at Angkor Wat and talk to the tourists. Monks aren't supposed to look at women, much less talk with them, but we drank Coke and watched the sunset and discussed Smackdown. WWF is HUGE in Cambodia. It was awesome.
their children for their economic gain.
But I mean, you have to see it. It's Angkor Wat.
There are more photos below