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Published: February 19th 2011
This time round I elected to make use of the free sunset option with my Angkor pass (purchase your pass after 4:45pm and you are alowed into the park for free to watch the sunset) and pootled off to Angkor Wat to enjoy it relatively crowd free (although it was still anoyingly busy - didn't they know they were meant to be clambering up Phnom Bahkeng for sunset?)
Still, managed to amble around soaking up the ambiance, in spite of the inconsiderates around me. Particular favourites are the amazing colours of the stones (alas my camera let me down, for whilst it has captured an essence of the beauty it failed to get anywhere near the truth if the matter), and also the stunning views framed by the many doorways (again camera just couldn't read my mind on this one and insited on focusing on the corridors not the view - darn my lack of dedication to learning how to work it in manual).
Was eventually chased off the premisies by a security guard who stated it was closing (was amazed then to see so many people still making their way in as I made my way out -
An old Bridge
My tuk tuk driver was lovely but I do question how neccessary it was to advise me that it was no longer possible to drive across this bridge? LOL
methinks he told a small porky). It is possible to climb right to the top of the temple but of course this option was closed by the time I made it there. Charming guard took me aside and asked loudly if I was returning tomorrow, he followed this with a much quiter whisper of "ÿou pay, you climb". I took this to mean there was a charge for the climb and went upon my merry way. T'was only when I returned the next day to find the climb was free that I realised he was asking for a bribe to let me up then. Darn, wish I was quicker on the uptake for it would have been breathtaking to have seen the sunset up there all on my lonesome (although, in fairness, not so breathtaking - or at least a very different sort of breathtaking - making the climb down in the dark).
Early to bed that night (fell asleep after my shower and awoke at 2am with the towel still wrapped around my head - this technique results in a very interesting
hairdo I can tell you - not one I'm keen to try out in public anytime
soon though) and up for a lazy 8am start.
Stopped back at Angkor Wat again (where I made the above discovery) and oddly found it slightly less busy than the evening before. I made the climb to the top, free of charge, and enjoyed the views through the heads of the happy snapping tour groups. If ever you should head out this way and a guard asks for a charge to climb, pay his charge with glee, it surely will be worth it.
Next stop was Bayon, the temple of the ginormous faces. Even here, bustling with tour groups it was possible to find a moment alone. It was whilst I was pottering around here that I began to notice I'd developed a curious habit of getting in the way of other tourists photo's. Even curiouser, when trying to extricate myself from their view finder I oft found it moved with me. Eh, what the blazes was going on? Not unaturally a healthy dose of paranoia set in (for I am fully aware of how photogenic I am in general) and I beetled off to find a quiet spot. Thereupon a quick self portrait solved the mystery (alas).
I was beetroot woman. Worse still, I was blotchy beetroot woman with the brightest, redest, blotchyest face you've ever seen. And I'd been so careful not to overdo things as well. It was so unfair, sat and sulked in the shade for a good 30 mins (Liz, your cooling spray is a swiz, it does not work) trying to fan myself back to something near normal. All to no avail alas for a further self portrait showed the same day glow features as before. Guess I'll just have to resign myself to being a figure of fun for the rest of my trip (nothing new there then).
Think those of you whom held hopes that I would encounter the man of my dreams on this trip had better hope again - unless he worships the beetroot look that is!
Once I'd determined I could not stay hidden forever I braved the flashing cameras and moved on. Tried, Oh how I tried, to keep to a snails pace (theory being minimal heat generation via movement) but years of training in the opposite is jolly hard to break. Generally as soon as lost concentration I picked up
Chose your own adventure!
What a charming way of phrasing the choice, made me smile every time I saw one of these.
pace. T'was, I suspect, a futile effort anyhow but made me feel better to be a little pro active.
Wondered around the Bauphon - well, actually I wandered to the foot of Bauphon and looked up. This was as much as I was allowed to do thanks to the exensive renovation work in progress. Been on and off since 1975, wonder if they'll finish during my lifetime? A quick stroll across the Terrace of Elephants and then through the Terrace of The Leper King before making a hasty (and highly illegal) exit in order to avoid running the gauntlet of scarf and curio sellers.
In fact I'd been surprisingly lucky in my avoidance of said people and was later quietly congratulating myself thus when my luck ran out and for the rest of the day I was accosted by cries of "one dollah, lady, you buy" where ever I went.
Protestations are in vain, these kids are hard wired to ignore anything in the negative. Easiest route is to engage one in a bit of chit chat, the rest usually flee to easier targets then. It's worth it for these kids are smart, and not just a
One of two East Gates. The other is not infact the Goose Gate but more commonly known as The Gohst Gate (small missunderstanding on my part clearly)
little witty either. One girl, upon hearing my cries of no money, offered me credit whereupon I give her one dollar and she gives me goods to the value of $10 (same goods she'd been trying to peddle for $1 a moment ago). Nice try! Trying another tack with the next girl I met i protested that I already had everything I required, ergo there could not possibly be anything in her tray requiring me parting with a dollar. We got to chatting (as you do and at some point I must have admited that yes, I was indeed "only one") and suddenly she triumphantly announced that indeed I did not have everything and, for the princely sum of one dollar she would procure this for me. What was I missing?
A boyfrined of course! Getting a triffle cocky she went on to offer 100 boyfriend for no extra charge (not sure what kind of boyfriend she had in mind but she was too young to pimp, am sure of it). This tickled my sense of humour so much I profered the requested dollar, just for her brazen cheek. However, honesty is alive and well in Siem Reap for
she refused to take it as she could not in fact fullfill her end of the contract. Bless. Instead I bought a terrible bracelet from her for, of course, one dollar!
Headed off to Bantrey Srei shortly afte that and it was I must say, a perfect time to visit. Not many people and fabulous lighting. Didn't linger long though as they were many beggars around and it's just so hard not to give over here.
Had an early night as had to be up at stupid o'clock the next morning for sunrise at the temples. As it happens I saw sunrise at the guest house because some young tourist was having a very public breakdown and my driver was the only employee up and able to sort it. So, eventually made it to Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider Temple) around 6:30. this is the perfect time to come. the light was beautiful and I virtually had the place to myself as I ambled around snapping anything I fancied without fear of reprimand from the freaded tour groups (tis a little known fact that tour groups rule and the solo traveller must make way for at least 6 dozen
The House That Jack Built?
and some tourist wonder why they're not allowed to scramble over these temples any more
posed shots before attempting to obtain any kind of temple snapshot). Bliss indeed. I left around 7:30 which, incidentally, is around the same time the first of the tour groups made their onslaught.
Went for a half hearted scramble over another few temples but quite frankly I couldn't be bothered. It. Was. Too. Hot. Not so sure my theory of taking a fan room (as opposed to air con) to help me acclimatise quicker is working you know.
Perked up again when it was time to see Ta Nei (I'd been looking forward to this one). Alas my driver had never been there before, apparently I was the first tourist to request a visit in his 4 years of driving (4 years!!! yea Gods, he looked all of about 12!). So, not wanting me to get lost (and lets face it, left to my own devices that's pretty much a certainty) we traipsed through the woods together. Took a few wrong turns but made it in relatively good time and WOW, it is worth it, lost of climbing and slidding and scrambling and general Indiana Jones type stuff. Shame I only managed one photo before my battery ran
out though, why must there always be a cloud to my silver lining?
Back to the hotel and I headed out for lunch. Didn't get far though, thanks to the heat and the deasel fumes (have I mentioned how hot it is here), felt like I was suffocating. Made it about 10 minutes along the road and then took sanctuary in the first resteraunt I came across (bad move). Clearly I was not the sort clientel they were after for I was banished from the other diners and seated instead in what I can ionly describe as an apertife area (think garden chairs and coffee tables).
Got my revenge though for I was right at the front of the resteraunt. Many prospective diners stopped to ask me if the food was any good. I merely grimaced and shook my head, and off they went to pasteures new. The food was appauling, it wasn't a lie although they did do a mean mango shake (fortunately however no one thought to ask me about that).
Then stopped in to an internet cafe to update this blog (See, I do think of you), realised I'd forgot my camera (ergo unable
to upload photos) and trecked back to the hotel. Had every intention of heading back out again but for some reason I never made it. Spent the rest of my time alternating between cold showers and lying exhausted upon my bed. Did manage to sumon the energy (after about 5 hours) to head downstairs to reception. Extended my stay until Monday, made to leave the hotel, realised it was far too blimin hot and headed back to my room where upon I repeated the cold shower/laying exhausted cycle until morning.
Should come as no surprise then that I was up in plenty of time for my 6:45am start in, luxury of luxuries.... an airconditioned van!
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sooo glad you didnt have to decend those steps in the dark, clumsy clumsy jen dear. BE ALERT, cos qmh needs lerts. lol lol xx