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Published: November 17th 2014
Our flight to Cambodia was at 10am. With a 20 minute taxi journey, I planned to leave around 8.15/8.30 but reception thought we should leave at 7!! Well they know better, the traffic must be a bitch at that time. 7.20am and we are at the airport. Now we wait. It was our first of a few flights with Air Asia. We had flown with them before when we returned from our big trip when they still flew to London. They are the equivalent of Ryanair/Easyjet here. Very very cheap! The flight was fine but I did notice they tended to break up people travelling together that had not pre booked their seats (we had) even although the plane was only half full. Very mean I thought but you could just move to the empty seats if you wanted, as long as they were not the emergency exit seats as they cost extra (even if there is no one in them!). Can’t complain too much as the airline is very cheap. I had also pre-booked in flight meals for us as they were only like £2 each and thought it would make the journey that little bit nicer.
Pad Thai for two.
The one hour flight was over in a flash and we arrived in Siem Reap. I had sent an email the night before to the hotel asking if they provided airport pick-up, as this is standard practice here. However I did this quite late and did not have time to check my email before we left, so I didn’t know if there would be pick-up or not. We walked through the hoard of drivers holding up names, looking for my own. Then I hear ‘Kearney’ Kearney’. I say yes and there is an audible ‘yay’ from them. It turns out I had not included my flight number in my email so they were not sure if I would be at International arrivals of Domestic. Our driver, Heng, had guessed right and all his friends laughed along as he showed his relief. Heng’s English was very good and he gave us some information during the journey to the hotel about what were seeing around us. Heng also thought my accent was hilarious and did impressions. We agreed to use Heng for the next two days for the temples, even although we could have gotten a tuk
tuk much cheaper, his English was good and the air con 4x4 was even better.
Our welcome at the hotel, which looked very impressive, was fabulous. They sat us down, provided cold towels and cold drinks while they checked us in. We were then escorted to our room. The Bell boy (lol) mentioned we were in the new part of the hotel which is better. Our room looked lovely and the bath and shower were quite cool. We climbed onto the giant bed and lazed about, checking the net etc. There was works going on in a site out the back of the building but I didn’t think this would affect us until the most annoyingly loud drilling noise began and didn’t stop. Then our neighbours arrived in their rooms, we knew this because we could hear every word, noise and fart they made, on both sides. One side had two screaming kids! JOY. Off I went to reception and they showed me 2 rooms in the old building. The bathrooms were crap so we stuck with our room knowing we would not be in most of the day.
We headed to the main strip called Pub Street,
which was a 10 minute (slow) walk from the hotel. We were asked constantly if we wanted a tuk tuk. The streets were lined with restaurants and shops varying from tourist tat to local food shops selling fresh fish and other shops selling fans and door knobs etc and of course, massage. We found somewhere to eat. The menu had quite a big choice of food for $3 each (in Cambodia they use dollars mainly but give change under one dollar in their currency which is Reil) and cocktail $1.50. The food was fantastic. They don’t really do spice and everything is made with coconut cream, just what I like! Day 6
We had arranged to meet Heng at 9am, so after our large and varied breakfast we headed to Angkor Wat. This is something I have been looking forward to for a very long time. It is number two on my list (Machu Picchu being number 1). We bought a three day ticket which allows access to nearly all the temples for $40 each and off we went. It was very very busy and very very hot! But I was here and it was WOW. As we
walked through the main entrance, the iconic image of Angkor was right in front of me. On the way we encountered some cheeky monkeys. A girl was feeding one of them water from her bottle. She tried to feed another but instead he tried to attack her, cheeky indeed. It was funny as she ran away shouting Russian insults back at it. We entered the main temple and worked our way around. I wish we had paid for a guide as we didn’t really know what we were looking at but what we were looking at was amazing. The detail of the carvings on the vast walls, which were 900 years old, was amazing. We headed up to the top tower which was rather scary. I find it amazing that these people could build such amazing temples and carve some remarkable carvings but not seem to know how to build stairs that were easy to climb. They are so steep and therefore the wooden steps built around them for the tourists to climb are also very steep. I clung on for dear life as I neared the top and wondered how the hell I was going to get down! We
were reminded how very polite we British are, something we discovered on our big trip. The rest of the world is, generally, what we would consider, RUDE! Of course as it is the rest of the world, they can’t be rude, they just .....are. It is us that are, generally, unusual and different in this respect, we really are very polite. It is difficult to deal with, what we generally perceive as, rudeness constantly throughout the day. After many many photos, we headed back down the dreaded steps but it was actually easier going down than up. I mean i’ve gone down Inca steps for God sake. There were some Cambodian teenagers dressed in traditional Cambodian dress that you could get your photo taken with for $1, so I did. One of the girls kept saying ‘beautiful’ to me, it pleased me. I always keep my eye out for a stone that is clearly part of what I am looking at but considered ‘rubbish’. I found one and will make it into a fridge magnet along with my Monument Valley stone and Potosi silver mine stone.
We finished and had a quick look in the tat shops
and came away with an oil painting of Angkor, which we think is fab. Onto the next temple which was Bayan Temple, this temples main feature is the 4 sided faces of the king. Lots of photos later and my camera battery starts flashing. It’s actually Kirsten’s camera as ours has sand grains on the lens due to Rob’s stupidness. So we have ours as a back-up but I really didn’t want to go to Ta Phrom without a decent camera. I was pretty exhausted and it was only 2pm, we had Heng until 6 but the last thing I wanted to do was go to Ta Phrom and be like ‘yeah yeah, temple, tree, w/e’
so we headed back to the hotel and straight onto Pub Street. A woman approached me carrying a child of around 1 or 2, she said something along the lines of ’please help, I don’t want money, I just need food for my baby, formula
’ she repeatedly asked me to buy her formula for the kid and said she would take me to the shop so I didn’t have to give her the money. I quietly allowed her to lead the way with Rob
in my ear telling me to leave it. I couldn’t work out were the scam was. I couldn’t walk away from someone asking me to buy her food, whether it was for a baby or not. I went to the shop with her and the kid perked up and looked so happy to see the formula. I agreed to buy a tin for around £8. As Rob paid the cashier the kid tried to scrape off my freckles from my arm. I take it she had never seen freckles before, then she went for my boob but her ‘Mum’ stopped her. We came away from the shop and Rob told me I was a total idiot, he couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and check the net out for this scam. It did feel like a scam but I couldn’t not buy her food. As we walked through the town, I seen another woman do the exact same thing to someone else but I still had hope it was just their way of feeding their kid. Of course it was indeed a scam and it turns out even the kids are hired by these women. They take the
formula straight back to the shop and get a cut. What you gonna do, eh. Anyway, we both decided on getting a massage. They are so cheap I could cry! I got a 1 hour, 4 hand, cream, full body. That means two people massaged me (using cream, not oil). You can get an 8 hand one! It cost me $12. Rob is boring and got a 2 hand one (haha). Actually, 4 hands wasn’t that great. You know when you try to stop crying by pinching yourself? It’s a distraction technique, makes your brain concentrate on something else, well a 4 hand massage is kinda like that, your brain doesn’t know what to concentrate on, so you don’t fully appreciate the massage. I did appreciate that a lot of it was quite painful. They do this thing were they pull your fingers and toes to crack your knuckles. It’s horrible and the noise it makes is not right. I think that’s why they do it, cause the noise sounds so bad you can only assume you have achieved something, well they haven’t, other than pain. After that we had another outstandingly cheap and yummy dinner and headed back to
the hotel for some fun in the pool. It was dark when we went for a swim, and we swam up to the pool bar and had a cocktail each. As we messed around in the pool a load of people walked by and headed into the ballroom for a dinner and dance night. The dance is a show of traditional Khmer dance, all the girls and boys are dressed in fabulous outfits and the side door was open so we watched a little from the pool and then booked ourselves in for the next night. $15 each for a buffet meal and show. After the pool we went to the room and sat about on the net .We got a little hungry so ordered room service. Although this is much more expensive than going out to eat, it’s still pretty cheap compared to what you would pay back home. I ordered a cheese board and cheesecake. The cheeseboard was laughable, literally a tiny bit of 4 different cheeses, all of which were rank! The cheesecake had no cheese, it was a sponge cake. We got to sleep much later than planned as we were leaving at 5am to see
Angkor in sunrise. Day 7
Bleary eyed we headed out to Angkor again. It was insanely busy. Everybody vying for the best spot of the temple for sunrise. Remember it is pitch black, so Rob turned on his camera torch. Do you know what happens in Cambodia when it’s dark and you turn on a light??? beasties!! So Rob turned off his torch and we fumbled around and found somewhere to sit. We took loads of pics but it was cloudy and when it was bright we headed back to the car to find Heng lounging in the back of the car. He wasn’t expecting us because the sun wasn’t up yet...oops. We ran back as the reds and pinks filled the sky feeling a little sheepish. Many more photos later and we were off, back to the hotel for breakfast and then a wee sleep before we were on the road again for 9am and off to Banteay Srei.
Bateay Srei is a 20 mile journey, the temple is considered one of the best as the carvings are so detailed. They look like they were carved very recently they are in such good condition. The carvings
were indeed excellent but there was not much temple, so this one was over fairly quickly. After some lunch we headed back to the Angkor region and onto Pre Rup. Now this may sound daft but I didn’t know they made bricks 900 years ago. This temple was built using bricks, just like the bricks we use now. It looked weird and frankly, not very attractive. This temple was used for cremation, I guess that’s why they used bricks. There were big towers that were effectively chimneys.
Next temple was Ta Phrom, I had looked forward to this almost as much as Angkor. This temple has been taken over by the jungle. The huge trees have grown in and around the temple through the years, wrapping themselves around and through the stone walls. It has created a very beautiful site. Oh and another wee daft thing, it was used in Tomb Raider. We worked our way around, noticing that this temple was in a bit of a sorry state. It has not been restored as much as the others we had been to. This surprises me as it is probably the second most famous of the temples. There are
large pieces of the temple lying in piles all around it, I guess waiting to be put back together like one giant jigsaw. There was a picture of a part of this temple showing what it looked like before it was reassembled and it really was just a pile of rubble. We worked our way around and finally came across the parts where the trees had encroached on the parts of the temple. We took some photos at the first one, then along came a girl waiting to get in for her photo. Once my photo was taken I went to swap with Rob but she decided it was now her turn and in she went with her boyfriend who was making an ‘I can’t take the photo because THEY are in the
way’ face he didn’t think I seen. She prepared for her pose which was a dramatic yoga pose. After they left Rob got his photo taken (see below). Eventually we made our way to the middle and came across the other tree/temple. It’s so pretty how it winds its way horizontally along the wall and eventually vertically. This is the part that featured in that film with
that Lara somebody, played by Angie somebody. After more exploring, raiding, double jumps and swan dives we headed back to the hotel. Again we had a lot more time but it’s easy to get ‘templed out’ especially in this kind of heat. We paid Heng the $80 it cost for the two days and parted ways.
We hung around our room internetting and sleeping. I had cancelled our hotel in Phuket as there was a load of bad reviews on Tripadvisor lately, so I had been trying to book somewhere else and having some difficulty. I did this while Rob slept some more. We then had to get dressed for the dinner /dance show. We got a bit gussied up and headed down. Tonight it was held by the pool as the weather was better than the night before. It all looked very pretty. The food was quite good and so was the show. Day 8
Last day in Siem Reap and we didn’t do much. Having been woken by the drilling, hammering and screaming children at 7.30am, we got up and went for brekkie. Then we did a lot of chilling out. I went for a
2 hour body scrub, massage and facial for the princely sum of around £15! Again, a little painful and slightly intrusive this time. You see, here, you take off everything and they pretty much massage everything. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I had read that here you are usually always offered ‘extra’, even when it’s a seemingly reputable place, but I wasn’t offered nowt. So sexist! Rob wasn’t either when we went for our massages the previous day but he did keep his boxers on like a wee wimp hahahahaha. We decided on KFC for dinner in our room that night. It tasted like crap. Day 9
Our flight to Phuket was at 11.45am so after breakfast we headed to the airport. We loved Cambodia. It was just so great. In some ways it was similar to Bangkok but at the same time different. You could say, ‘same same, but different’. The temples were amazing, the people were friendly. Maybe their recent history and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge (or as Rob referred to them continually as The Moulin Rouge) and the fact that they live in the most corrupt country in the world
made us feel more for them and appreciate them. Also, it was ridiculously cheap. I think we will be back.
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