Angkor - not the ship kind. Temple Tour Day 2
Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
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Five minutes to 5am and we were down there waiting for Josh and waiting for the driver. Josh came sauntering down at 5 but no sign of the driver. We gave him 10 minutes but the dirty, lazy little bugger had opted for a sleep-in with the $10 we'd paid him for his day the night before. BIG mistake that was!! He had seemed so nice. Luckily we'd not paid him in advance!! I knew it was too good to be true. All the same, all over the world. Taxi drivers, rickshaw drivers and all those in that sort of category. Bastards.
We found another guy but his rickshaw was weak as piss and slower than a pregnant snail. It took us ages to get out to Angkor Wat. Once again, we got stuck with the most rubbish vehicle. Everyone was overtaking us and I feared it would be lunchtime before we got there. We did eventually make it, but in reality the only good reason for going out that early is that it's cooler and there aren't as many people. The sunrise was almost as disappointing as the sunset. Oh well, can't have everything, incredible temples, beautiful jungle setting and fantastic skies. We spent a couple of hours there climbing and sitting and looking. It's an enormous place. It's the largest of the Angkor group, one of the most intact and perhaps the largest religious structure in the world. I thought it was a Buddhist place but it was actually built as a Hindu temple turned mausoleum. You learn something new every day! David and I walked around the whole place looking at the amazing reliefs around the galleries. It is just as impressive as you think it's going to be.
David was like a broken record. 'When I was here 6 years ago blah blah blah.....'. Well when he was here 6 years ago they had their own bikes and could do as they pleased. But times have changed and trying to get the lazy-ass rickshaw drivers to drive 25km out of town is quite a task. Personally I don't see what the problem is, it's not as if it's difficult to drive on a road then sit around waiting for your customers to come back out!! I was hoping as well, that as it's so far away no one would be there, but improved road access around Angkor had enabled two coach loads of Japanese tourists to flood the place before we could get there. It's tiny too so it doesn't take many people before it gets over crowded. I wished I'd come 6 years ago. It's a lovely place though, made of pink sandstone and is called Banteay Srei or 'citadel of the women'. David's favourite. It's walls are covered with carved reliefs. Some think carved by women as the detail is so fine. We spent a fair bit of time here before driving to Bantay Samre, 'citadel of the Samre'. Samre refers to a tribe of people that lived in the area. It's larger and a little more isolated which means not too many people!!! It's one of my favourite so far. It was quiet and we climbed all over the place. There are the remains of a lovely paved entrance way around that appeared to be around the rear but was the original entrance. This one I really like. We chatted to some pregnant ladies at their stalls just at the entrance. They were really nice. On the way back to town we wanted to stop at some more sites but the rickshaw driver started protesting that we'd changed plans and wanted more money. We tried to explain that they were on the same road and that we're not diverting from the original route. He had to pass them to get back into Siem Reap but he thought we were asking more of him and demanded more money. We gave him a couple of options. Leave us there and drive back to town on his own cashless or stop at the temples on the way back and get the agreed amount once he'd returned us to our hotel. I couldn't believe he actually stopped to think about it! He eventually chose option two. Smart man. He dutifully stopped at Banteay Kdei which is a little more dilapidated than the last two but it has some nice carvings and there aren't too many people there. The restoration is a slow process. We also crossed the road to Srah Srang which is a hand-cut lake with a majestic landing platform. We went back to Angkor Wat for another look and to take photographs in a different light. It's still fantastic a second time round.
That night after dinner we went down Bar Street for a slurp of Beer Angkor. We had intended just the one - jug!! They were $2 per jug and between the three of us, it was a bargain too good to pass up. So there we were letting the cool Angkor-ness slide down when we spotted another Aussie girl called Shan, and invited her over. Jugs all round!! They were supposed to stop the $2 at 10pm but when we asked how much they'd do them for they said they'd continue to do them for $2 for us! Fantastic! So naturally we stayed there until they kicked us out then moved next door to a bar called 'Angkor Wat?' and stayed there until the early hours. We still had to organise a driver for tomorrow so Shan went over and organised the guy that had taken her round - and for the ripper price of $7!!! It was about 3am and we had to get back if we were going to do anything tomorrow and Shan had less than 3 hours to get back, have a snooze, pack and then catch a bus. Lucky she's young. I couldn't do it anymore! At least we'd have some sleep. We'd asked our man to come at 9.30am.