Quick visit to Angkor Wat

Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, April 1, 2006

"From 1975 to 1979 - through execution, starvation, disease and forced labour - the Khmer Rouge systematically killed an estimated two million Cambodians, almost a fourth of the country's population." Author's Note to "First They Killed My Father" by Luong Ung which is a very interesting book.

Kanchana, Vava and I had been out shopping and on the way back to the apartment I dropped them off at Kanchana's office as she wanted to do some work, and I parked the car at the apartment. Soon after Kanchana rang me to come to the office to see the snake that was in there. I walked to the office expecting to see a small snake, maybe a green tree snake or something that had got into the office.

There is a small kitchen area at the back of Kanchana's office and she showed me the snake's tail on a bench in the kitchen. The tail then went behind the bench and couldn't be seen from standing up. Kanchana said it's head was under the bench, however where she was pointing seemed a bit far away. Perhaps there were two snakes? I tried to see the head but couldn't. I had to get right down with my head on the floor and then I saw a quite large snake head attached to the body and tail. It was a python at least a metre and a half long.

Kanchana asked me to catch it so we could take it and put it in the park across the road. She said it was sleeping and would move slowly. So she got a plastic garbage bag and me a long stick and we tried to get it. It moved very quickly through a crack in the wall to the next door house's kitchen area.

My English classes to the kids in the village have become more popular and I now have a class about twice the size as before. Even the kids around our apartment that don't come to class are now more inclined to wai (put hands together in front of face and bow slightly) to me and say "Sawat Dii Kha/Khrap Khun Paul" whenever they see me. Teachers are respected in Thailand and I think that fact plus that the kids are more aware of me means they want to say hi to me and show respect to me. Thais are very polite. For more info on how to be polite in Thailand please see: http://www.thai-blogs.com/index.php?s=manners&sentence=AND&submit=Search

I need to go across the border each 30 days to renew my visa. I decided that as I am going to Cambodia anyway, it would be well worth it to spend the extra money and have a look at Angkor Wat. I have made some notes on how to do that. Please use these as a guide. You could do the trip cheaper if you wanted and also much more expensively. This is what I did.

Left Mo Chit Bus terminal on the 0630hr bus to Aranyaprathet. Cost is 207 Baht and you can buy a ticket at the bus station just prior to the trip.

At Aranyaprathet a tuk tuk to a tourist agent cost 80 Baht (for a 5 minute ride this is very expensive). The travel agent arranged my Cambodia visa and also a bus to Siem Reap and accommodation in Siem Reap. (It is possible to do all this yourself without a travel agent and although that may end up a bit cheaper it requires a bit more effort - worth it if you are on a tight budget.) I paid 1500 Baht for a visa plus US$5 for a stamp (?), US$12 each way for a bus to and from Siem Reap (the tickets are US$10 if you get to the Cambodian bus station and buy them yourself), and US$15 per night for accommodation (that I probably could have got for US$10 per night if I had turned up and asked by myself. There is accommodation available from US$4 a night, although I don't know what the standard is like and there is also many 5 star resorts that cost hundreds of dollars.)

Once across the border I was taken to the bus station for free and waited for quite a while for the bus. It left Poipet at 1600 hrs and stopped for dinner at 1745hr. Dinner of noodles and ice coffee cost 100 Baht. We arrived at the hotel at 2215hr. The road was a bit rough and the bus is pretty simple, but it is a good way to catch a glimpse of the country side. It becomes apparent that Cambodia is pretty poor and if you look carefully and know what you are looking for you can also notice there are a few minefields left that haven't been cleared yet. They are well marked, but right beside the road and farming land.

Up the next morning at 0500hr to go to Angkor Wat at sunset. A 1 day ticket costs US$20. One day to see the temples was OK for me as I think I will be back again with Kanchana and family, but if you came to S.E.Asia especially to see Angkor you should spend 3 days (tickets can be brought as 1 day, 3 days or 1 week). Ngoi was my motor bike driver and he said people normally give him US$20 - 25 per day. He drove me to each temple and told me about the temples and life in Cambodia, although he let me wander through each temple at my own pace.

Angkor Wat at sunset was a bit of a tourist circus and although I think perhaps it is worth seeing, it wasn't very special. After looking around Angkor Wat and having some breakfast though we drove to the some of the other temples and ruins through the Cambodian countryside. I liked this much more, as you could see Camobodia as it is now, as well as getting to some nice ruins and also getting an appreciation of how big the centre of Khmer civilisation was. It is pretty amazing.

We spent the day looking at temples with a short break for lunch. I was getting a bit tired of the process by mid afternoon and if I was looking at Angkor over three days or more I wouldn't go for the whole day as it can be a bit tiring. But it was worth it. Ngoi took me back to Angkor Wat for sunset. The massive crowds were there again and the weather wasn't good for sunset and I felt it was about to rain, so we left early. We arrived back at the hotel and a minute later it bucketed down with rain for many hours.

Ngoi organised a car to take me to a fancy (and expensive restaurant) which had Aspara dancing (traditional Khmer dancing). That was well worth it also and I enjoyed the show and the food.

Left Siem Reap about 0830hr the next day on the bus back to Poipet. Crossed back to Aranyaprathet, Thailand with another 30 day visa stamped in my passport. 80 Baht for a tuk tuk to the bus station and just in time to get the 1400hr bus to Bangkok. There are buses that leave on the hour every hour. Arrived in Bangkok at 2000hr.

Good - well worth it.

Oh, just before getting into Bangkok, whilst sitting on the bus in traffic just past Nakhon Nayok I looked out the window. There were lots of cars and I was looking at all the different types when I noticed the unmistakable shape of a young elephant's back legs, tail and bum. The elephants was standing in the back of a small truck and a young Thai guy was sitting in the truck's tray with the elephant. I smiled at him and he smiled back. I love Thailand. The people are so human and elephants drive around in utes.
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alexengel on

elephants in trucks!
Like your last two sentences dodo. Short but sweet. Beats Germany on the 'human' level atm for me- the bureacracy is an absolute nightmare. Who knew a piece of paper and a signature could be so important!?

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