Angkor Wat !! Ending my Cambodian trip in Siem Reap with a side trip to Preah Vihear temple thrown in for good measure !!

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March 25th 2013
Published: March 25th 2013
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Day 182 (Fri 8thMarch) (Unfortunately although named Angkor Wat there are no pictures of it itself, just the surrounding temples. Camera is still on holiday there. They will be up when i get it back)

I started my first day in Siem Reap deciding what to do. I’d been given a very handy brochure when I checked into my hostel so planned my temple route. I headed out around lunch time. I wasn’t originally going to do the temples today but figured I might as well.

I stopped to get some cash on the way and met Dave (Scotland) and Claudia (Germany). We ended up spending the day together cycling around the Outer loop of Angkor World Heritage Historical Park. We took in plenty of temples after a quick lunch break. Preah Khan being the best one of the day I think, also the first one we visited.

Myself and Dave had good fun trying to pull the biggest skids, we really were like big children, but the roads around Angkor are incredibly flat and in places dusty so we got some good speed up then went for it. I went a little too far and very nearly stuffed it up, managing to just about not hit the deck.

We then made a mad rush to try and get sunset at Angkor Wat but it seems we were maybe 15 or 20 minutes to late for it which was a shame. By this point our asses were killing from the bikes. We cycled back into town and off to our respective hostels.

We met up later for some food before Claudia retired for the night and me and Dave got sauced on the well named Pub Street. I would say what time we got in but for the life of me I have no idea. We spent most of the night in Temple Bar with 4 Cambodian girls we had decided to grace with our presence. We had a good laugh with them and invited them to come out again tomorrow night so let’s see how that goes.

Day 183 (Sat 9th March)

Woke up in severe difficulty this morning, last night’s copious amounts of Angkor draft making me feel delicate. I then opened my wallet to reveal, well nothing. It seems I have somehow lost all my US dollars, my Angkor pass and my onward bus ticket for tomorrow. Not what I wanted to happen but it is only money so not quite the end of the world, plus Cambodia has been very cheap. I decided after meeting Dave and Claudia to give Angkor Wat a miss as I didn’t want to buy another ticket, in the hope I’d find it somewhere. I spent the day dossing about and sleeping.

Met Dave in the evening for a session, and it was definitely that. We met up early on with the girls we met last night, Vichet, Rattanak, Hena and Narom We spent a few hours with the girls in temple bar and then they left for the evening. We ended up drinking on a street bar and then onto a couple other bars in the middle of nowhere. According to my ipod I made it back to my bed at 6:43am. We’d noticed tuk tuks with foreigners going past and being drunk had no idea why, they were off for sunrise at the temples before we’d even got home. Messy night.

Days 184 – 185 (Sun 10th – Mon 11th March)

The past 2 days I got out of Siem Reap and headed to the very controversial border with Thailand. There is a temple called Preah Vihear on the Unesco World Heritage List but most foreign offices tell you to avoid the area as it’s unsafe. The second part of that made me want to go even more, I figured it’d also be less touristy. I told my friend Puck about it and we agreed to meet to go there. I got to the station and Puck had managed to get Leah (Scotland) and Vandna (Canada) from her hostel to join us. We hopped on the bus and off we went.

Took about 2 hours and we arrived in Anlong Veng, the resting place of some of the Khmer Rouge and notably Pol Pot, brother number 1. We didn’t really want to stay here as the temple was still 80km away but we were told there were no buses. After walking the 2 streets trying to find somewhere to stay and someone to speak English a bus approached, the driver shouted ‘Sra Em’ out of the window, and we got on. It was going exactly where we wanted to be going so we got lucky.

We got dropped off outside a guesthouse, went in and checked in. The 4 of us shared a huge room. The place seemed to be run by the families 14 year old son as he was the only one with any English, he was a very cool little fella, running about after us in his Real Madrid kit. Puck is very good at bargaining so got us 4 motorbike taxi’s hired for the following morning.

It took around half an hour on the motorbike taxi’s to get there, past plenty of Cambodian Police and Army barracks, the clear army influence to see. We bought our tickets and changed bikes, went up an incredibly steep hill to the base of the temple. Preah Vihear is on top of a 550 metre high hill. It is also surrounded on the lower areas by landmines so definitely want to stay on the walked paths up here.

We spent a good 2 hours or so roaming around Preah Vihear, it is nearly a kilometre in length and is incredibly impressive, one of the nicest I’ve seen and I’ve seen a lot. It made the trip there totally worth it. It isn’t the hardest place to get to but with the border dispute it’s advised not too, so we only saw one other set of western tourists making it a pleasant place to walk around. There is a heavy military presence with bunkers and hide outs all over the place, the odd AK47 lying on the floor unattended also, I was considering becoming Rambo but thought against it. The day was a little hazy making the views not so good but I can imagine on a good day they are unbelievable.

We then headed back to the guesthouse and got lucky in getting a ‘private taxi’ sorted back to Siem Reap instead of having to wait until the morning bus.

The private taxi was a battered Toyota Camry (never heard of it but common here). There were 8 of us in 5 seats and a scooter hanging out of the boot. Around 3 to 3 ½ hours of being squashed ensued. I was delighted to get back to Siem Reap after that. The driver even shared his seat with a local and we had an army officer on board, no health and safety here.

Days 186 – 187 (Tues 12th – Wed 13th March)

So after the couple days exploring out of the city we all opted for a lie in bar Vandna who went for sunrise at the temples, crazy choice. The 3 of us left decided to go to the landmine museum for a look, gets decent ratings online so figured we’d view it. On arrival after a bumpy tuk tuk, we paid and were greeted by an American who kindly showed us round the entire facility giving us mountains of information. There is plenty here on display and it’s so said to hear what the mines were used for and what damage they do. They are not aimed to kill but to mame was something that stuck in my head. We roamed around the rest of it unattended and they headed back.

In the evening I met Leah and an American lad I’ve now forgotten the name off. We had food and then a few drinks. Leah headed home and then so to the American, I was on the way when 2 Khmer guys asked if I wanted a drink with them. Obviously I said yes, we then got in a tuk tuk and headed to a Khmer disco, which was interesting, definitely the only foreigner in there. After a while I felt it was time to go but didn’t want to explain so headed to the toilet and straight out the side door into a tuk tuk.

Woke up pretty rough so spent most of the day in bed. I had done pretty much all I wanted to do bar another day at the temples which I’ll do tomorrow. I plan on going for sunrise at a lovely 5am. I hired bike from the corner shop so was ready to go in the morning.

Day 188 (Thurs 14th March)

So 4:45am arrives, I get changed and ‘where is the key for the padlock for my bike?’ After searching around for a good 45 minutes and even roaming the streets I give up and go back to bed knowing I’ve missed sunrise.

I woke up at 8am again and still could not find it. I had to walk to the shop to get the guy to come to my hostel to cut the lock of it. After this I headed to Angkor park.

I took in the main temples today after seeing the smaller further out ones last week. The main ones being Ta Prohm (tomb raider), Angkor Thom, Bayon and Angkor Wat. The temples are mightily impressive, but I was struggling. The bike was hurting my backside, I was drinking water for fun but still feeling tired and exhausted the entire day. I made Angkor Wat my final stop being the main temple in the park and most well known, probably the best in my eyes as well although I did like Bayon a lot. Ta Prohm had way too many people there for my liking. I was shattered so headed back into town mid afternoon, for a swift lie down.

In the evening I had agreed to meet up with Vichet, Rattanak and Hena. Dave was still about in town so we all headed out together. We had a couple drinks then headed to a local Khmer bbq joint for all you can eat for $5. It was a fantastic meal and a nice one to finish of my Cambodian adventure.

We then headed back to Pub Street to drink and dance the night away, I must have been slightly drunk as you couldn’t get me away from the dancefloor, although trying to dance in flip flops is not easy at all. I can’t quite remember what time the night ended but I had a 6am alarm call to get up for.

Day 189 (Fri 15th March)

So I wake up at around 6:50am, a mere 50 minutes later than I meant too. By this stage I was in a panic, my flight was at half 8 and it was an international one. I had pre-packed most things and sorted the rest and flew down the stairs and out the door. Jumped in the nearest tuk tuk and just shouted airport fast at him. This was a good idea as he belted it towards the airport. On the way I realised my camera was still charging so that was an error but hopefully I can get it back.

I got to the airport around 7:15am where Vichet and Hena were waiting for me to say goodbye. They hadn’t had too much to drink the night before so were reasonably fresh, I however was struggling with a hangover. I checked in, said goodbye to the girls and went through to departures, managing not to be queried about overstaying my visa by a day. This was handy as I was too tired to want to answer any questions.

I flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which only took 2 hours, mainly slept and dribbled my way through the flight. Got the bus into town and found my hostel, very simple. After this I pretty much slept and relaxed through the rest of the day.

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