Snooky Ville to Siem Reap - home of Angkor Wat

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 27, 2008

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Friday, October 5, 2007

6:30 am start, tuc tuc to bus station, bus to Phnom Penh change to bus to Siem Reap. 11 hours in total and a bus driver with a death wish! All in all a good day really. It was during the last leg of the bus journey that we encountered some interesting sights. One of these were deep fried tarantula!!! Eeeek. Pat was too afraid to even take a picture of them so Nic braved the overspilling pot of alternative snacks, while Pat turned his attention to the creatively cheeky children trying to part him from his money. Although he did not buy anything from the children he gave one a dollar to help her with her "schooling", but we all know she'll be blowing it on sugar cane the minute we leave. As people were milling around and being pestered by the children it began to rain very heavily.  While we all ran for cover the children remained on their pitch shouting on to the bus in an relentless attempt to attract your custom. Pat and Nic decided to donate their ponchos to the children in a parental fashion, to stop them from... "catching their death".... comically the one size fits all poncho completely buried the small child under it, much to the amusement of the other children.

We arrived at 6:00pm in the pitch black, again the frenzied scramble began as we tried to retrieve our bags, adjust to the new climate and ignore the barrage of "You wan tuc tuc...good price..hotel ?" Nic, not wanting to become stressed by the dizzying noise around her.....again..... stretched out her arm and placed her hand on the first shoulder that it touched. "Give us five minutes to get our bags and decide what to do and we will come back to you." Amazingly the tuc tuc drivers simply faded into the darkness and we were left alone! Must do that again.

Finding a hotel we settled in for the night and the next day brought with it a search for a new hotel, where to watch the rugby and shopping. After what seemed like hours of trekking, Nic Vic and Pat settled on another hotel slightly out of town, Molly Malone's was showing the rugby and after transferring our bags, the girls hit the shops. On returning to the Blue Pumpkin (a funky coffee bar/restaurant with WiFi) where Pat had spent the afternoon updating the blog,  Nic proceeded to go on to bended knee in the middle of the shop.....Patrick you would make me the happiest woman alive if you would marry me? Producing a ring to Pats smiling but partially embarrassed face, he accepted the ring and said yes... Miriam and Victoria clapped approvingly. (We had left our incredibly expensive white gold engraved rings at home so we felt naked and incomplete as a married couple).

Whilst Pat had been blogging he had also found out that the boys, Blake and Matt, had in fact not gone home and were minutes away from us. Excellent! We arranged to meet at Molly Malone's to watch the rugby....After they had left us they had picked up a stray Australian called Travis. So there we were watching the England V Australia match with a token Aussie to poke fun at when we panned them........and we did....oh joy. The next game to be shown that night would be New Zealand V France at 2am!! This was also a must watch as Miriam and Victoria (Kiwi girls) were up for some of the same. The atmosphere had died a little in the bar as all the Australians had left very sheepishly with hushed comments of "well done, good game" so we also left in search of a livelier place.  We found it in the form of a packed bar playing loud music and with a big screen in the middle....perfect......until the All Blacks began to loose control as too did Miriam and Victoria!!!! Here we were thinking that butter wouldn't melt......but give them 3 jugs of 'Long Island Iced Wat' (tea), the rugby and 4am in the morning, it's another story. Good fun was had by all.

The next day was spent recuperating, so off to the Blue Pumpkin for the best burgers in the world (so far) and then  to the pool. After the reviving qualities of both the burgers and the cool water of the pool we exploded into a rally of aqua games. First up was Pat and round 1 of 3 of handstands underwater. An impressive 12 seconds, then Nic, 9secs, Victoria equaled at 12secs........then Miriam with an amazing ....wait for it........ 1 second! The rounds  went on and finally Nic and Victoria were tied. So head to head and Nic lost. After this we had, how many forward rolls in one go, followed by doggy paddle relay, running relay and sidestep relay....all in all many calories burned.

Monday, today we would explore the very thing that Siem Reap was famous for... its Wats (temples).  There are several temples with Angkor Wat being the biggest of them all.  We left the hotel nice and early in the morning, ready for a days sightseeing.  To be honest Pat was not too enthusiastic at the prospect of seeing more temples but he was to be very glad he did as they were superb.  We arranged with the tuc tuc drivers to take us on the 'mini tour' that would take in 5 or 6 of the key sites.
First stop - Angkor Wat itself.  This used to be the capital city and dated right back to the 12th century.  Thankfully we had Victoria and her trusty guidebook to fill us full of this useless, I mean, fascinating information.
The temples are really really interesting and very different from any temples we had seen before.  Some of them are overgrown by the jungle and you really get the feeling at times that you are the first person ever to have stepped foot there. We half expected to stumble across Lara Croft emerging from them with a golden chalice in hand.

After a few hours of some serious temple gazing it was lunch.  As usual we got the kids offering to sell their wares the minute we sat down.  We managed to resist the doey eyes of all but one of them.  One girl, no more than three years old, was just too adorable and Nic promptly adopted her.  Before long Nic had bought three bracelets from her, had the girl on her knee and was feeding and watering her. The child consumed the food as though she had not eaten for weeks (and probably hadn't looking at her).  All the time she was eating, everyone was donating more food to her plate and Nic was fanning her and holding the drinks to her mouth so no effort was required - properly pampered.
Whilst the girl was eating Nic noticed that the money she had made from selling bracelets was just shoved in her pocket and could quite easily have been lost.  Before long Nic returned with a brand new elephant purse for the girl to keep her money in and wear safely around her neck.  The little girl was over the moon. She ran off after an hour with us with a new spring in her step.

Lunch over and it was time for more temple gazing.  Each temple that we came across was unique in its own way.  Many of the temple restoration programs were joint funded by other countries.  For example you had a restoration program funded by India, Australia, etc.  All these were done to a real high standard.  Except for one.  The one part funded by China.  It looked like they had got a bunch of blind amputees, given them some tools and said 'patch this baby up'.  The restoration was no way near anything like the original.  The original temple was red so they used grey concrete slabs to patch it up.  The original temple had intricate carving, so they patched it up with smooth grey stone.  Unbelievable.  I can just imagine the boss turning up, taking a step back and declaring 'good work men!! No one will ever spot the new stuff'.

The best temple, as far as we were concerned was saved until last. No idea what it was called as we were now totally ignoring Victoria and her useless information.  But this one particular temple was fascinating.  You had 900 year old trees growing out of the temples!! These trees were huge and due to the fact they were on top of the temple, you got to see the massive roots winding their way through the stonework.  How the temples, and the trees for that matter, stayed up is unbelievable.

As a storm drew close, we boarded our tuc tucs and headed back to Siem Reap, where we met up with Canadian Jess who was also in town and had been for a couple of days.  Dinner back at the Blue Pumpkin and an early night with the intention of rising nice and early to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat.

Unfortunately, we had been fed some duff information by a local bike hire person and we were unable to hire the bikes at 5am as we were first led to believe.  Plus, it was too early in the morning to get a tuc tuc to take us there.  So, nothing for it, more shopping for Nic in the Old Market.  Miriam and Victoria went off to the temples anyway, while Nic, Jess and Pat booked tickets to fly to Laos the following day.
In the evening we all got together and went out for dinner.  Our destination?  The Dead Fish Restaurant - officially known from now on as THE MOST DANGEROUS RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD!!!  EVER!!!
We had first seen the restaurant a few days previous when we were on a mission to find a new guesthouse. So in we we walk up the banister free wooden stairs to the multitude of differing levels, overlooking shallow pools of catfish with companions of ducks (random) we also observe the lack of safety measures in place to avoid people from misplacing a foot and ending up in a crumpled heap on the floor three flights down. Never the less we take our seats....carefully....and take in the HUGE range of food that they have on offer. After an excellent feed and not too many beers (for obvious reasons) Nic needs to use the facilities and heads, precariously downstairs.
Next to the toilet Nic notices signs saying 'Feed $0.50' wondering if this is more fish she takes a closer look...only to see concrete statues of crocodiles! After powdering her nose Nic passes back past the low fenced enclosure to notice that one of the small statues had moved!!......moving in for closer inspection realises that these are indeed small but REAL CROCODILES. Rushing back to inform the others, whilst taking care not to fall to her death, the others disbelievingly come to see. It is at this point we realise that all the crocodiles are real, all 17 of them and two in particular are a HUGE 6ft long with very sharp teeth. We promptly and excitedly start to dangle our arms and feet over the side of their unstable housing to see if they move....and they do!!! Pat ran excitedly to stock up on four buckets of Dead Fish (hence the restaurant's name) to feed the crocodiles. whilst waiting for the food to arrive we all sat on the barrier less ledge with no safety precautions in sight above the now gaping mouthed creatures. How COOL is that? The bowls arrived with dead fish in them and so began a feeding frenzy......WOW. It was at this point that we realised only a fool would get drunk in this bar as there were so many deathly hazards presenting themselves. We curiously checked with the staff if indeed any fatalities had occurred and were assured that this was not the case....maybe they should introduce this bar in Rotherham might cut down binge drinking in the area.  
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