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Chapter eighty five - Siem Reap

Wat? Angkor Wat that's what

overcast 29 °C

Day 305: Siem Reap, Cambodia 31/07/2012

A 7.30 tuk tuk pick up from the room (with a real odd couple in tow) to get to the bus station and start our journey to Siem Reap via Phnom Penh. A rumbling hunger and a sub-zero air conditioning system makes the stop for a hot noodle soup all the more satisfying but we soon find ourselves arriving at the bus station in Phnom Penh and waiting for what seemed an eternity for the next bus to come. There is lots going on here though to keep us entertained - annoying Europeans, locals travelling across Cambodia with their worldly possessions, travellers with huge camera lenses pointing at people's faces.

Eventually on the bus to Siem Reap and there is a real mix of locals and travellers using the service, which is always nice to see. Again the a/c is set to arctic but we do get to watch some excellent Khmer programming on the onboard tv. Get to Siem Reap in good time, organise a tuk tuk to Angkor Wat in a couple of days and check in to the hotel before grabbing a bite to eat and getting an early night...

Day 306: Siem Reap, Cambodia 01/08/2012

After a good night's sleep I head to the rooftop gym and smash the treadmill for a massive sweat on before we step out for a bite to eat and a bit of time wandering around this charming riverside town. We visit all the haunts we loved so much last time we were here and buy a few bits and pieces from the markets. Back at the room, we have a slight problem with the plumbing and we ask to be moved. Unfortunately, they are full at the moment but say they will move our stuff when we are at Angkor Wat tomorrow. A quick visit to the internet cafe and a bit of time in the fish foot spa (always good for a laugh) before an early night for an early morning...

Day 307: Siem Reap, Cambodia 02/08/2012

Up at ten to five then for our trip to Angkor Wat, with the tuk tuk ready and waiting for us outside the hotel. We soon hit the road and are excited about this morning's excursion, reaching the gate to the complex nice and easily and having two beautiful, early morning, post tuk-tuk ride photos taken for our day passes.

After being accosted by a food and drink vendor called Angelina Jolie (not sure if that is her real name) we soon bear witness to the magnificent spectacle of the sun rising over the mysterious Angkor Wat and the ancient complex is revealed in all its glory. It is incredible to think how a structure like this was built so long ago, without cranes and machinery, not just built to a decent standard but finished with such unbelievable quality and finesse.

Exploring the temple complex reveals some stunning monuments and statues and a huge pack of very wild looking monkeys. From Angkor Wat itself and onto the Bayon we move, where there is plenty going on. Elephants compete with the tuk tuks for roadspace carrying hordes of gawping tourists to the strange, mystical and all knowing huge heads carved into the building blocks of this strange but captivating temple. There are some excellent views to be had from the top of some of the other smaller temples (very steep steps up) and the whole thing is a really special sight to behold - definitely worthy of its position near the very top of almost every tourist's itinerary. After negotiating the maze to get out and grabbing a quick drink, we head back to the hotel for a quick nap and (eventually) swap rooms as promised.

After such a busy day we treat ourselves in the evening, first stopping for a massage from a blind man (so relaxing!) before a great dinner at one of the best eating holes we have found on the entire trip. A couple of beers and we are ready to leave Cambodia - a charming and unforgettably welcoming and hospitable country - in the morning for our last return to our most favourite of cities, Bangkok.

Posted by tevs 21:49 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia siem_reap angkor_wat Comments (0)

Chapter forty two - Siem Reap

sunny 29 °C

Day 153: Siem Reap, Cambodia 01/03/2012

Well then, another early morning start, this time up at 5am to catch the train from Bangkok to the border with Cambodia. In our seats well before sunrise, and already Bangkok is a hive of activity. Although it is a long journey, it is pretty painless and we arrive at the border just before midday. Grab a filling, cheap and quite delicious meal at the station and then catch a tuk-tuk to the border. We are royally ripped off at the border for our visas by some helpful 'official' visa officers (one of whom wears a Villa shirt, which makes things even worse) and make it across the border in one piece, albeit a bit pissed off by the overcharging for the visas and the hot, arduous queues both sides of the border.

Once over the border we are taken by free shuttle bus to a government bus stand, where we pay well over the odds for the bus journey to Siem Reap. Shameless exploitation. Eventually arrive in Siem Reap about fourteen hours after we left Bangkok and our first impressions are not great - we are greeted by a main road lined by bland, faceless upmarket hotels clearly catering to the wealthy foreigners that visit the city. Find a decent priced Cambodian tuk tuk (trailer on the back of a moped) to the main area downtown and check in to a hotel we found in our Lonely Planet. Nine bucks, two double beds, fridge, cable tv, wifi and rooftop gym. Bargain.

Go for dinner - prices here are incredible and the quality equally good. Also becomes apparent that draft beer is fifty cents in 90% of the bars and restaurants. We head into a bar for a drink to use the pool table and notice lots of white men socialising with local women. As it becomes apparent it is something of a 'hostess' bar, a working girl moves herself from sitting on the back of a tourists shoulders resulting in a roundhouse kick to Gemma's ribs. It seems the world's oldest profession had discovered the world's oldest martial art. Another good story for the post trip anecdotes at least I suppose, as I escort (no pun intended) Gemma back to the room, holding an ice pack to her side (only kidding, she was fine).

Day 154: Siem Reap, Cambodia 02/03/2012

Wake up a little groggy after the previous long, budget busting day and last night's revelation that beer is cheaper than water in this country. Drag myself up to the rooftop gym with my glamorous assistant in tow, where we proceed to sweat profusely. We go for breakfast at a very nice pastry shop and take a stroll around the town. A lovely city, with a some great shops and market stalls and a whole load of tempters at great prices, including some incredible canvases and any number of trinkets for the home Gemma seems to have planned in her head...

Get our laundry done $1 a kilo, which is pretty reasonable we think. Head out for dinner and it is good! Fresh spring rolls, Khmer curry amok and fresh Khmer salad for Gemma. Despite the ridiculously cheap prices everywhere, we manage to somehow exceed our daily budget, which may be due to spending the majority of the afternoon in 'X Bar' playing pool and taking advantage of their rather extended 'happy hour' and me throwing a bottle of Lacoste aftershave across a shop (by accident) in the morning. Demolition man strikes again.

Day 155: Siem Reap, Cambodia 03/03/2012

Up and again a little bit tired but drag myself up to the rooftop gym (alone this time) and again produce an unbelievable amount of sweat. Another excellent lunch at a decent price. We want to have a bit more of a budget drive today so I am advised not to touch ANYTHING. However, we stumble across a crocodile farm and head in for a visit. These are some weird, demonic, prehistoric killing machines and the crocs in the farm range from tiny babies to small handicapped (mainly tailless) animals to hundreds of massive monsters. There are literally hundreds of them and there is the odd fight/sudden movement that causes us to jump. Thankfully, a very kind, helpful and thoughtful individual has erected a sign advising us to stay out of the crocodiles' enclosure and pool.

We spend the rest of the day sitting by the river, playing Uno and watching out for crocs.

Day 156: Siem Reap, Cambodia 04/03/2012

Considered going to Angkor Wat today, and sadly after overspending over the past few days, waking up late and not wanting to be swarmed by American tourists, we decide against. Probably sacrilegious but a decision we made and stand by.

Have a very lazy day, sort out a route back to Bangkok and after another wander around we have a manicure together. Have a good Skype session and a relatively early night.

Posted by tevs 01:47 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia siem_reap Comments (0)

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