Horses, temples and a possible snake.
Trip Start Jul 24, 2009
17Trip End Jun 30, 2010
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In Siem Reap, got the bus up from Phnom Penh by limousine class (you get a bottle of water and a face towel extra). Main aim was to see some temples and go horse riding through the Siem Reap countryside.............. Sorry, I've to stop typing for a second as I've just looked out of the window of the internet shop and there is a guy balancing on a ladder which is on a ladder, in flip flops using an electric drill to fix the awning. Only in Asia.
Anyway, horse riding - Booked through a place called Happy Horse Ranch (10 mins from the main town) and arrange for an early morning ride (7:30) so I wouldn't get too hot. Stuff the horse, I didn't fancy being a sweat monster. The stables were immaculate and my horse, Ahang a pony of about 14.2hh, was ready for me when I arrived
Temples - Today i did the temples and visited Angkor Wat (the big one), the Bayon temple (the one with the faces) and Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider one). I hired a tuk tuk driver for the day for $12, paid my $20 ticket fee and off I went. The roads you drive on to get to all the temples are well kept and you sometimes forgot that you were driving through an ancient kingdom
We drove through the south gate of Angkor Thom and visited the Bayon temple. This was my favourite as I loved the faces and beautifully carved Apsara dancers. The faces initially all look the same but are in fact slightly different. There were lots of narrow passage ways and ruins to climb on, even saw an elderly Japanese man climb a set of very precarious steep steps tri-pod and camera in tow! As you can see from the pictures it was fascinating.
Next we drove on to T Prohm which is the famous temple set in the jungle with tree roots growing over it. This temple was the most ruined and it definitely had the feel of the jungle reclaiming it. They have built walk ways here which makes it easier to negotiate especially as a rain storm began. Not the best temple to get stuck at when it's pouring but it certainly gave it atmosphere. The long walk to Ta Prohm enhanced the feeling of it being an undiscovered and forgotten place and you definitely feel taken back when it appears in front of you. Sometimes the serenity of the temples is disturbed by loud, photo snapping visitors (I was only the latter) but it is good for Cambodia that tourism is becoming so established and they can share they country with the rest of us
Visiting Siem Reap after Phnom Penh made me view Cambodia as a dichotomous country as they balance their horrifying recent past with the majesty of the their ancient past. Both cities were mind blowing but different reasons and when you see the headless statues at Angkor Wat (stolen by Thais and during the Khmer Rouge regime as they fetch more money that the whole statue) you understand how this country has been dealt a rough deal. As you stand at the entrance of Angkor Wat trying to get a decent photo but begin cursing all the other bloody tourists in your way you have to take a check on yourself. Cambodia needs us to visit it but we can't go with the expectation that it will be stay relatively undiscovered because that is not fair.
Off to Battambang tomorrow on a 8 hour boat journey. You can go by bus in 3 but going by the river you get to see lots of exciting life. Apparently there might be children trying to sell me a snake for $1. Unfortunately transport and quarantine costs means it is not a viable present to bring back for my mum. Damn. She'll have to be happy with a scarf.