Friday, 22 February 2013

Templed Out!

Arrived in Siem Reap to our first problem with a hotel. They took our booking for 3 nights and when we turned up we were given fresh fruit juice and lovely ice cold towels so it was quite promising. Then to be told they didn't have any rooms for our first night so would we stay at another place for the night which was really grotty. So we had to then trek around but found a lovely little place called the Cashew Nut.

Siem Reap is actually not a bad town. It is obviously here because of Angkor Wat but it has a river running through it; a few temples to look at; a bug market that wouldn't let us photograph the fried snakes, crickets, cockroaches and frogs; a road called 'Pub Street' which is a bit like the Khao San Road in Bangkok, full of restaurants and foot massage places and finally the obligatory night market.

Being as money conscious as we are, or tight some may say, we heard that you could buy a one day ticket to visit the main Wats at 4.30pm the day before and use it that afternoon. So off we went to queue at the ticket booths, have our picture taken and handed over our $20 for the ticket. There was so many people doing the same thing it was like a roman chariot race as we all pulled away from the booths in our tuk tuks heckling with each other. We wanted to see the big one so headed for Angkor Wat to see it at sunset along with the 1000's of others who thought the same thing! But there were more people leaving at that time of day than arriving so it was actually quieter than we had hoped for. It's difficult to describe but was definitely a 'wow' moment as we walked up the causeway made of gigantic slabs of rock crossing the moat that surrounds this monumental temple. You can easily imagine how imposing it would have been back in the 12th century when it was built without the aid of us modern day machinery. We got half way across and got chatting to a lovely white haired Indian man who was resting on the wall and I'm not sure how it happened but we finally got to try some of the infamous betel nut from India. He opened up a little tube and shook these suspicious looking lumps of dark resin into his hand. I let Chris try it first, there's a surprise. And after he hadn't screwed his face up in horror I had a go, it tasted ok. Sweet and made you salivate a lot which I think is the point as you see men spitting all the time while chewing it.

Anyway, I've digressed, back to the temple ruins. Angkor Wat was as the pictures every one has seen, the three famous domes with the lakes in front. As you walk through the main entrance and smell the incense burning and catch glimpses of the orange robes of a monk you get a sense of something else. Even though there are lots of people there is still a feeling of calm. We talked in hushed tones and felt a reverence for the surroundings. But for both of us the show stealer was the next morning.

We got up and left at 5am to climb to Phnom Bakeng to see the sunrise. It was such a relieve to be about before the heat of the day had taken hold and we went up by torchlight to arrive at the ruin just before the sky started to light up with the soft pinks and oranges of sunrise. There were mercifully few people so we managed to get some great pictures and could enjoy the peace of the morning. The big surprise though was Angkor Thom. Our trusty tuk tuk driver took us to the south gate which had the most fabulous row of sentries on either side. Their faces all different ranging from the serene to the down right grumpy and in a better condition that the other gates. It was about 7.30 when we first saw the Bayon ruin in the centre of Angkor Thom and the light from the rising sun really made the best of this one. It has five giant towers each with a face on every side. You can get in and around these ruins and up close to everything. Again, we seemed to be lucky with the crowds and only a few coach loads of Japanese were sharing this with us. After a short break for some breakfast we wandered round some deserted ruins still in Angkor Thom and I hate to admit it but you get a bit blasé around them.

Next stop was the Tomb Raider ruins, Ta Prohm. Made famous by Lara Croft being chased by the baddies around these. At this point it was about 11am and the crowds were building and the temperature rising so this better be good. It was. Ta Prohm is one the few temple ruins that they have not completely restored and have left some of the jungle that was growing around it. The trees seeming to grow from the roofs of the temples and roots that clamber either side of walls and a hue of green over the carved stones. This makes Ta Prohm feel much more exciting and you can almost imagine the feeling of discovering such vast splendid places of worship.

The pictures tell this one more than the words. We were impressed and would recommend a visit and call us heathens but unfortunately it didn't blow us away as we thought it might. Enjoy the pictures though.
Cheap shit.
Brand new honda Rambo 100cc motorbike in Cambodia $600Haircut, wet shave,nasal, ear and eyebrow trimming, cold towel and cup of orange $4 Foot massage $1
Weird shit
The untouchables dubbed into Khmer with English subtitles on a bus.
The Cambodians are always picking lice from one another's hair. The woman on the seat in front of me is doing it now! I am scratching my head like a maniac. As well as my mosquito bites.

1 comment:

  1. The idea of the cheap shit appeals to me of course a motorbike for about £400 sounds like my kind of bargain, not sure about the nasal hair trimming though. weird shit has got me scratching now. Must go now and de-louse your Mum.