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Published: January 14th 2007
The whole Angkor experience started off on a very pleasant note in the form of our bus going right into the center of town and dropping us all off at the Capital tour office instead of the bus station which is a few k outside of the city center. I had tried several times to make a reservation for this city, but my luck had run out by this point and I got 2 numbers of people that were not in the city at the time. Since calls cost about 0.50 cents a minute for tourists, I decided that I would be better off just spending more money once I got to the city than spend more trying to line up budget accommodation. Upon my search for a room, the first option I came across was a dark room at a dingy place that had about 12 mosquitoes circling around as soon as I opened the door. This was a no. However, the 2nd spot had 1 room at a partner guesthouse, with the promise of moving into the LP recommended place the next day. Fair enough, $5 for a very decent room with private bath. I slept well, and was
up at 5 to venture over to the temples. I had looked at the map, and since the temples were only about 5 miles away from my guesthouse, I decided to walk it. I knew I would have more flexibility to see what I wanted to see this way, and so I set out to spend a whole lot of money (ticket prices to the temple complex start at $20 for a 1 day pass). I cought Angkor (the worlds largest temple) at sunrise stayed there for about 2 hours checking it out, then crossed over to a very minor attraction that required one to walk up a path for about 10 minutes to get to the top. Angkor must have had a few thousand people at it first thing in the morning, but this other temple only had about 20. Good enough for me! It was also perched up on a hill, so it had a view of the jungle around that none of the other temples I saw could boast. I continued the tour be trekking over to the temple of Angkor Thom, which was nice by by this time so overcrowded with people that I was happy
to leave after 15 minutes. The furthest stop was Preah Kham, which was a let down mostly because I knew that I had walked 4k s to get there and would have to walk back to the other temple before going to the last one. I found this path that looked like it may be a shortcut, so I went down for about 2 miles trying to cut through to Angkor Ta Phrom, but got cut off about 100 yards from my goal by this canal that was not on my map. I thought about wading through for a sec, but the water was very mucky, and when I tested with a branch, the bottom was so mushy that the branch sunk in 2 ft. End of that idea. So, back to the road I went. About 50 ft into my walk back along the road, this moped stopped and the rider asked me if I needed a lift. I explained I was not opposed to the idea, but he was heading in the opposite direction I wanted to go. I then found out that he was working for a German tour company, and was just driving around the temples
Ta Prohm Kel
Set up on a hill, it has a commanding view over the jungle around it
on his day off. "I can take you wherever you want to go, no difference to me." This kind of arrangement was too good to pass up, so while we drove passed a whole bunch of people who had paid $10 for guides on motorbikes, I got a ride paid for by a German tour company. This was my kind of travel. The kind soul drove me 8k to the other temple, which was by far my favorite of them all. One of the film sites for the movie Tomb Raider, Ta Phrom was overgrown with trees that had started growing on the ruins after the fall of the Khmer empire, and it was really a fantastic sight. After this point, I had really had a long enough day. I had walked about 25k, which was considerably easier because it was overcast, but still, a lot for my tired frame to handle. As I set out for town, I saw a sign saying that it was 12k away. Ok, time for the motorcycle. After a few overpriced offers, I found a guy who would take me for $1. Fair enough, off to town we went.
After getting back to
my guesthouse, I was greeted with the news update that they had no room at the guesthouse I had been promised! Really, how interesting. I could have sworn that they gave me a room when I agreed to stay at the partner guesthouse last night. Hmm, time for a reduction? Yes, I thought so and they agreed, $4 per night for my room, and I also got the free laundry service from the other guesthouse. I don't know and didn't act like they intentionally gave it away, but I was promised a room there (which was nicer, for the same price) so it was only right that they come around and do something. However, with my new found savings, I headed into town to try this highly recommended restaurant. Khmer Kitchen has some fantastic Pumpkin Coconut soup (with chicken and all the rice you can eat). You take the soup, use it as a sauce to put over the rice, and yes, some very good food. The best part came as I was wrapping up my dinner, and I felt a tap on my shoulder. Simon and Lisa from Laos, seated right behind me! Always good to see old friends.
So, we got caught up on life, and then went out to the Angkor What? bar for a nightcap. 0.50 cent beers got us caught up, and then I went back to the guesthouse for my journey to Bangkok the next morning.
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