The Temples of Angkor

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November 23rd 2009
Published: April 11th 2010
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23 November 2009

The same driver that picked us up at the airport taking us to Siem Reap this morning as expected the drive was hair raising at times, the lad was lucky to get over 60km an hour. After about 2 hours we made a short stop at Kompong Thom where the driver had some food and Ruth and I wandered around eating some crappy cakes. Then about 60km from Siem Reap the car broke down, the whole reason for choosing to travel this way was to save time and ended up taking hours later than a bus.

A local family invited us to come sit under their stilted house in the shade while we waited about an hour for another car, there were about six children who were very friendly and all manner of animal life, the kids posed for photo's until they all disappeared in doors to get ready for school and then they headed off. Eventually the car from the Siem Reap hotel arrived we expected to get in and take off straight away but they hooked a rope to the other vehicle and proceded to tow it the rest of the way at 35km an hour, what a nightmare, I was simmering by the time we arrived in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap has changed big time since I was last here actually it is almost unrecognisable, big hotels everywhere and huge numbers of foreigners. The last time I was here there werent even any Tuk Tuk's and the place wasnt crawling with bloody tourist police and foreign restaurants everywhere.

Our hotel is very comfortable and in a reasonably central location so after settling in we hired a Tuk Tuk for the rest of the day and headed off to the historical park at Angkor, it took roughly 10 minutes to get there, we chose to purchased the three day pass, it was like entering an amusement park, again very different to the last time I was here.

Not long after entering the park we were pulled over by the police apparently our less than intelligent driver had neglected to bring his permit and we were fined, naturally he didnt have any bloody money so I had to pay the fine, things just kept getting worse and I was seriously in danger of losing my temper. Eventually we circled the moat at Angkor Watt before continuing on to Angkor Thom.

The massive entrance gates were spectacular unfortunately there are just so many tourist here now, I remember having the whole place pretty much to myself in 2002, we told the driver to stop at the Bayon which is famous for its hundreds of carved faces very impressive. From here we walked to the Baphuon which is being restored then onto the pyramid shaped Phimeanakas Temple with its lion shaped statues guarding its four stair cases. We then walked through a pretty park our ears under Cicadada attack until we arrived at the Royal Enclosure. The next stop was the magnificent 300 metre long Terrace of the Elephants, the carvings here were fantastic, shame about the rude Korean's scattered everywhere though.

We walked back to our Tuk Tuk past a row of temples that were restored by the Japanese, I remember these as being covered in scaffolding the last time I was here, we then went to visit Phnom Bakheng which sits on top of hill, rather than climb the steps with the other cattle we walked up the elephant ramp instead, we had to step aside for the occassional elephant or pile of poo. Unfortunately at the top the temple was crawling with tourist, like fleas on a dog, still we climbed the steep steps to the top before running out of patience and setting off back down to the vehicle.

Rather than return to the hotel we had the driver take us to the Old Market down near the river where we wandered through the shops unfortunately they werent as good as the Russian Market in Phnom Penh but we bought a few bits and pieces before heading down to Pub Street, for a feed and a few 50 cent beers at the Funky Munkey before returning to the hotel.

24 November 2009

Woke up this morning with a bad stomach I just couldnt get up so Ruth went and got me some tablets from a chemist, I couldnt eat anything. I didnt feel I was up to a long overland trip to Bangkok, so as soon as I could get up we went and booked a cheap flight to KL at an internet cafe, then headed out to the temples.

Today we head for Angkor Watt, we arrived about 12 and had the place virtually to ourselves, we left the Tuk Tuk in the car park and walked across the moat causeway through the entrance gateway and down a 500 metre long road. We left the road to move out into the grounds to take a photo of all 5 tours of the main temple, its a shame about the scaffolding on the front of the temple. We walked through all the galleries looking at the wonderful carvings unfortunately the heat was taking a lot out of me and I had to sit in the shade for a while while Ruth wandered around, disappointingly you can no longer climb the central tower as too many tourists have died falling off (I did climb it last time).

We left after about an hour and a half which was good as the tour groups were pouring in through the gates as we departed, I was feeling mighty poorly so we would see only one more temple today and headed to Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider fame) as Ruth was dying to see it. It was wonderful sight just as good as the last time I was here even though there were area that you couldnt enter this time. The ruins had huge Kapok Trees growing out of the terraces and walls, massive roots clinging to door frames and walls, the main temple is no longer in tact but it matters not, as the ruins are dramatic. We took some wonderful photographs before heading back to town, I still cant get it through to the people at the hotel that we dont need the car to the border now.

25 November 2009

I feel better this morning after 12 hours sleep, so we headed into the main restaurant area for a big english breakfast, after breakfast we headed to the market again to pick up a sun hat and a few cussion covers. We then found ourself a very professional driver to take us the 30 km out to Banteay Srei which was a very pleasant trip out into the countryside. We arrived at Banteay Srei just after 11am and I bolted straight to a very clean Western toilet as my guts were still in turmoil, the temple was very impressive with its carved flowers and scenes from the Ramayana, although the temple was much smaller than the others previously visited.

On the way back to town we visited the Land Mine Museum which was small but interesting before heading to the Pre Rup Temple, I was still feeling unwell so remained in the Tuk Tuk while Ruth went into the temple, which she compared to those at Ayutthaya in Thailand. The temple had its own cows which Ruth enjoyed. Dinner that night was at an Irish Bar where we both had Shepherds Pie before returning to the hotel to pack.

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