After a quick stopover of one night in Bangkok we were headed to Cambodia. The luxury of having only carry on bags and sitting near the front of the plane meant the wait time for our visas on arrival in Siem Reap was only about 5min.
We were here to see what the thousands of people come to visit every day, the temples of Angkor.
As you can see Rach donned her ‘Dora the Explorer’ outfit.
Reading ahead most visitors can take 2 to 3 days to fully explore all of the temples. After this long travelling we’ve realised that our attention to any particular site is really only limited to a few hours. Keeping this in mind we arranged for a tuk tuk driver to take us around, keeping to 3 of the main temples.
Angkor Wat was the first stop. It’s great to drive around the man made moat to the entrance. We spent a couple of hours looking around, certainly not as long as most, but saw most of the grounds.
We spotted this monkey waiting patiently to use the porta loo.
Although there were thousands of people here the area is so large that we did manage to get lots of photos with no people in them.
Then we headed towards Bayon and as we went through the entrance gate we spotted a bit of monkeying around. This little girl was not happy about the monkey trying to hitch a ride (check out the look on her face) . Out came someone’s slingshot, now we see why they’re sold everywhere.
This is our driver Mr Ven Sing with said monkey.
I guess they’re so used to people that they make themselves at home anywhere.
The temple was set back from the road along a raised walkway.
Maybe if we weren’t sweating so much we may have opted to climb the stairs to the top but we opted for the horizontal track.
One thing we cant get over is the layout of the temple and how there were clear frames (obviously not window frames that long ago).
This was the temple of faces, many carved into the stone.
The detail that went into each carving must have taken so long to complete.
The last temple of our visit was Ta Prohm, where trees have taken root in amongst the stones of the temple.
This one seemed the most touristy with people offering all sorts of things for sale. When we left, literally through the gauntlet of begging children – we got away easy, some people were hassled from the exit right up until they got into their van.
It is certainly incredible to see the huge trees growing out of the stonework.
Back in Siem Reap we decided to have a look around town. Although we knew it was a popular tourist spot we never expected it to be so geared up for foreigners. Probably takes the title of most touristy spot we’ve ever seen. However it’s still has a certain kind of charm, even after getting asked if we need a tuk tuk ride several hundred times over the days we were there.
The most well known street, Pub Street, is a line of bars and restaurants catering to any taste.
Like any tourist area it’s not where the best quality restaurants are but it’s busy well into the night. There is some traditional cuisine on this street but it’s more pizza, pasta, grill, Mexican, sushi etc.
Unexpectedly there was a squash tournament on the big screen outside one of the bars.
On a walk by the river we managed to find some locals, not easy to find on Pub Street, going about some fishing and gaming on the footpath.
We decided to do a motorbike tour which was by far one of the best things we have done on this whole trip. We each had our own semi automatic bike and with just the two of us and our guide we covered a lot of ground in the 5 hours.
It didn’t take long to get into the country side along a bumpy dirt road. We stopped to take a look at women weaving baskets. They complete about 5 or 6 baskets a day and sell them at the markets in the city for around $10 each.
Here there was also this simple gizmo for children to learn to walk. They hold on and go round and round in circles.
It was beautiful to be driving between the palm trees and rice paddies, everything was so green.
We only had one slight detour due to a road washout.
There were lots of people out harvesting the rice. It gave us a greater appreciation for the rice that we easily buy when we saw them in the huge fields doing all of the harvest by hand. After its dried the process of separating the grain is also done by hand.
It’s usual to get friends and neighbours to help with the harvest then help them in return.
The big thing that made our day was all the children that we saw would smile and wave at us, almost all of them shouting hello even right back from their houses. They were so happy. Even though it was a Saturday they still had school so we saw lots biking home for lunch. It’s so funny seeing 5 and 6 year olds quite capable of handling an adult size bike even though the seat was up to their shoulders when they were pedalling.
We had a look around the school, same sort of layout as the primary schools we went to.
We had some lollies with us so Rach tried to save the world one lolly at a time.
We got to see another temple ruin, this one most tourists would never know about.
The whole time we were out we didn’t see another westerner, so it felt like we were really off the usual tourist trail.
One night we saw a sign for “Cambodian food festival” so we ventured to it. On entry we were given tickets for the lucky draw and proceeded to win 4 beers so this was a good start.
Rather than a food festival though it was more like a open air concert with tables and food stalls but was fun for something different. We thought the stall selling toddler helmets was funny, then turned around and saw one being put to use.
Cambodia has now taken the trophy for cheapest destination we’ve visited, with many meals in SR being US$1 and $2, and draught beer .50c per glass. If you bargained a bit you could get a whole day tuk tuk driver for ten bucks.
The rest of our time in Siem Reap was spent around the pool at the guesthouse and generally relaxing. We met some Canadians and went out to dinner with them one night. Great fun, next stop another ‘one night in Bangkok’ before a visit to Hong Kong.