Night Riders of Angkor

Trip Start Jan 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Garden Village Guest House

Flag of Cambodia  , Khétt Siĕm Réab,
Sunday, January 23, 2011

$2 breakfast, another late alarm and we are on our way. 11 hour bus journey later and we arrive in Siem Reap. We check in at Garden Village with only outdoor dorms available at $1. Our first western dish of the trip was a burger and sweet potato fries. We then all went out to the Night Market and had a few drinks.

Siem Reap surprised us at how built up it was, a cross between Ko Samui and Chiang Mai. Traffic was heavy and there were plenty of neon's.

The next day we rented some old school bicycles and hit the streets, a daunting experience with heavy Asian traffic. It was ace to see the city from a new and busy perspective, getting friendly with the locals whilst cruising through unmarked crossroads. Cambodia should be named Land of Smiles, not Thailand, all the kids shout hello and all the girls giggle. We went for ice cream at the Blue Pumpkin, which is a swanky cafe with French/Asian influence.

We rode to Angkor Wat for the sunset and sat on the temple as the sun went down. After dark we had a sneaky beer down by the river where officials couldn't see us. Rode back in the dark, another surreal experience through the City. Ate a great pizza but we went over budget by 6 quid.

Alarms! Neither worked again and we woke up late. Freddie and Maria decided to hire a tuk tuk for the day whilst we opted for our rustic bicycles. But seeing as the alarm failed us, we stuck them in the back of a tuk tuk and raced to Angkor to catch sunrise. We were a little late but the colours were still good and then we explored Angkor Wat as the crowds went for breakfast. We then rode 7km to Ta Prohm aka Tomb Raider Temple (where it was filmed). After breakfast we were on the road again and came across several temples en route to Angkor Thom. Takeo Temple was one of our favourites, shaped like a pyramid you could climb the steep walls to the top. Inside Angkor Thom we explored the ruins and our favourite Temple - Bayon. It was very gothic and labyrinthesque and left us wondering why architects don't design buildings with evil smiling faces overlooking the public. We climbed the hill to the Temple Phnom Bakheng and saw a large snake but couldn't identify it.

Feeling dehydrated we cycled back to Siem Reap and made sure we stopped off for some ice cream at Blue Pumpkin. Met up with Freddie and Maria in the evening for drinks and stories of Angkor.

Had a chilled morning at the guest house before renting bikes again and buying knock off watches and sunglasses at the market. Made our plans for getting to Ratanakiri Province and spent the rest of the day cycling until we came across Penny and Richard from Bamboo Island. Went for leaving drinks on Pub Street before setting 5 alarms to make sure we got up for our 5.30am bus.

A quick review for Garden Village, we found it to be great value, fun place to meet people and the food was of a good standard with polite helpful staff. Free internet and pool table.

Our thoughts on Angkor Temples: Differing from Lonely Planet, we thought 1 day exploring the Temples by bike was enough. We saw them all and thought they were great if you took the tourists away. We got round this by timing our visits during the quieter times of the day.

23/01/2011 15 quid
24/01/2011 36 quid + 28 quid for Angkor Wat
25/01/2011 45 quid
26/01/2011 29 quid + 20 for Ratanikiri bus
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