Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
39Trip End Mar 21, 2013
We had a very nice breakfast on our patio this morning. It couldn't have been a nicer morning. By 8:00 we were out the door with our now good friend, "Jim," and his tuk-tuk. It is black with a red motorcycle up front and a blue ice chest. These are things you must remember when you are sorting through a hundred or more tuk-tuks outside of a temple!
Our objective was what they call here "the small tour circuit." That's like trying to schedule all Seven Wonders of the World before 3:00!
In order of appearance the stops were:
- Angkor Wat
- Angkor Thom, which includes: Bayon, Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, North and South Khleangs, and the Victory Gate
- Chau Say Thevoda
- Ta Keo
- Ta Prohm
- Last but not least, the one we looked for all day, the last temple (!), Banteay Kdei
Now, I hardly care what the archeological history of these are, and I was there, so I know you don't
Let me just point out a few tidbits. Angkor Wat is something special. All kidding aside, there are only two temples that are worth a $1,100 airline ticket to get here -- Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. Anchor Wat defines the word HUGE! It took us nearly 2 hours to walk through and there was no sitting. Anghor Thom is so large, I think Vatican City would fit into it with maybe room for Monaco.
What is this place? People plan to go to Angkor Wat and talk about it like it is all there is to see. Wrongo. The "Park" itself must be 400 Sq. Kilometers. It just goes on and on. You can't swing a cat without hitting some kind of ruin. You can't walk it, it would be like trekking the Oregon Trail. You could bike it for a day. There are people with strong constitutions and weak minds that do. But, it is like bicycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Even taking a Tuk-Tuk requires some reasonable health. Worst yet, you could take a Japanese tour bus and find out why some have been known to carry short knives to use on themselves. The outlying temples are, in some cases, 50+ kilometers away. If you are not able to walk 2-3K at a shot, over unleveled terrain, climbing very steep stairs, scaring the shit out of yourself descending very steep and rough stairs, and ducking your head constantly, don't try it
Of course, there are tourists by the thousands. Every country in the world must be represented here every day . . . even a very few Americans. You could make a study about what they all wear! Do people think that it is OK to leave all sense of good taste at home when they come to Cambodia? Cambodians read our magazines, GQ, and women's rags
Tickets cost $20/day, $40/three day pass and $60 for a week pass. (A week pass also requires a death wish.). Better than Disneyland, they take your picture for the ticket and, believe it or not, in a country that is a model of inefficiency, they check your pass frequently once you are in the park. Someday, Cambodia will wake up and realize that if tourists will pay $100/day to see a mouse, they will do it here and the last good deal of the century will flutter away. If you're willing to pay $90 for a 90 minute spa treatment in the west (sauna and body beating), why not come to this sauna and get beat up by hawkers for a day.
All of the sites were interesting and worth a visit. Angkor Wat we have discussed. That leaves one more worth a good mention -- Ta Prohm. If you saw "Laura Croft...something-or-other", you saw this place
Now we are back at the hotel. Burn the clothes, take a shower, brief nap, rehydrate more, write the blog entry and get ready for dinner.