Angkor, what?

Trip Start Nov 06, 2012
Trip End Feb 01, 2013

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So up bright and early, early anyway to meet our guide and tuk-tuk driver at 5am for the trip to Angkor and the world famous temples.  The ride to Angkor was enjoyable and we arrived at Angkor Wat with roughly half the population of China, who appear to be in Cambodia on some mass tourism drive, to witness the sunrise over the temple complex.  

The sunrise was enjoyable, however we have yet to see such a collection or  concentration of enormous cameras and lenses in our travels (more on this later). The jostling for position was quite annoying, but with some perfected “London Commuter Elbows” going on, we managed to get a good spot.

Our guide took us around the main temples which are summarised below (don’t worry it’s not a dull history of each of them - just our observations and feelings - feel free to skip it, we won’t mind) from 6:30am concluding the tour at about 12:30 - the heat was starting to build up (what are we saying, we were positively cooking by 8.30am!!) and it was nice to know that we could return to our hotel for a dip before hitting the town later on.  Touring the temples during the hottest part of the day would have destroyed us!

Angkor Wat - breathtakingly detailed temple and probably the most famous in the world.  The decoration afforded to every stone was fantastic and as it has been in constant use it is very well preserved.  The guide was very knowledgeable and explained the reasons for constructing it and what the function was - for the king to talk to god - before moving on to...

Angkor Thom - within this large complex we visited The Bayon which has 16 towers decorated with 4 faces on each.  This was very impressive, especially the one that looked like it had a black eye!  We next visited the Baphuon which is being restored by French archaeologists, it was nice climbing to the top of this and relaxing in the niches observing the tourists etc at ground level.

Ta Keo - lot’s of very steep steps but nice views over the jungle / forest. Up until this point we had been expecting the Indiana Jones type of overgrown temples and ruins, but nothing like that so far....

Ta Prohm - now, this is more like it!  Looks like how a temple in the jungle should look.  Trees growing through the walls, crumbling structures and a beautiful setting.  You actually feel like an explorer, kind of.  This was our favourite.

The final temple was Banteay Kdei, which was similar to Ta Prohm but with far fewer tourists!  This was our second favourite and a great way to complete our tour.

One thing we should say is how stunning the forest around these temples is and how we've never seen such large and beautiful butterflies. Incredible.

Apologies if we appear to be “doing down” Angkor and the temples - this is not our intention, the entire site is enormous and the level of detail of explanation needed for each one is exhaustive - these are our thoughts only and we can fill you in in more details when we get back to the UK if you really feel it necessary!!

After a lovely cooling dip in the pool we headed out to Siem Reap in the hotel tuk-tuk to discover the joys of Pub Street!  The joys are beers for US $0.50 and so we got stuck in! A was tempted by offers of a fish foot massage with free beer and wifi but decided against it. We found a bar on the crossroads of the market and a street just off pub street, settled into the upstairs balcony area and relaxed, with a rejuvenated Scouse (“Guys, I’m so glad you were with me last night - I thought I was going to die. I’ve texted my mum to let her know I’m okay”) for some serious people watching!!  The best was a group of amateur photography enthusiasts, with very long lenses on their cameras.  These guys found a wing mirror on a scooter particularly interesting and so stood so close that their lenses must have been touching the mirror and started snapping away, much to the bemusement of the local tuk-tuk drivers and ourselves - great stuff.

This is probably an apt moment to tell you about our new game - “MCA O’Clock”. MCA stands for “massive camera alert” - needless to say, there were so many at Angkor Wat, we couldn’t keep track of them......

We ended the night by enjoying some delicious Khmer food (not as spicy as Thai food), a tuk tuk journey back with some Austrians who will be on our boat to Battambang tomorrow - a boat which, according to the local guide, “in no way accords to Western safety standards” - and a late night beer with some Americans on their honeymoon. The Americans were making the most out of the fact that they only get two weeks holiday a year and so had to delay their honeymoon and beg for the weeks to be consecutive and are now hot-footing it around Cambodia and Vietnam. Didn’t the Americans do something like that a few decades ago?!?!

Joking aside, we often mock the Americans for “doing Europe” in ten days, but we have to hand it to them - these guys and all of the Americans we have met on previous trips have such a positive attitude and it’s great that they make the most of their time off. It does make us appreciate our THREE months off work (and our regular annual leave allowance!).

So it is now, we think, Wednesday and we have mild hangovers from the beers and mojitos last night, so we’ve enjoyed a relaxing day by the pool, ploughing through books on our kindles. Off out for more Pub Street action tonight - it’s fish Amok on the menu tonight - can’t wait!
Quick update on A's beard - it's really quite long now and he's beginning to worry about tan lines!
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Mike H on

Thanks for the update on A's beard - have alerted Passport Control at Heathrow.

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