Siem Reap And Temples Of Angkor

Trip Start Apr 16, 2006
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Monday, July 3, 2006

Had hoped to get the train for 12hours from Pnohm Pen to Siem Reap as we'd heard that you can sit on the top of the train with a few beers as it chugs along but found that now there is only one train route in the whole of Cambodia and it only runs once a week,and not even to Siem Reap.Then had hoped to get the slow boat up the Mekong River but the water was too low for any boats to run so in the end got up and caught a 7.30 bus to Siem Reap.Only 2seats left so spent the 6hours changing seats as one had a broken chair with a moaning american sat behind it and the other was sat next to the driver downstairs!and i mean sat basically on his lap,no seat belt,the windscreen completely cracked and smashed and every 4seconds the driver using a really loud horn instead of indicators so no chance of sleep!
Arrived at Siem Reap after a long 6hours sat on most uncomfy bus,the driver sharing my ipod and listening with one ear each to the chilli peppers as he bounced up and down grinning!Had arranged to stay at the family of the Okay g.h from Pnohm Pen and got picked up for free by "hore" a young lad from the Hello g.h we were gonna stay at.Same set up as the Okay in Pnohm pen with honesty book etc,had a walk round town full of markets and souvenir shops and arranged to get hore to take us in his tuk tuk to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat temple as it was free after 4pm and to get our 3 day pass to the temples the next morning.
Chugged along in back of tuk tuk and round a massive man made moat surrounded by trees and caught our first glimpse of the Angkor Wat temple in the distance with a massive causeway entrance to it....WOAH!!!!
A huge temple with 5 towers above the trees just made you stand there and stare for 5minutes saying nothing.
Walked into the grounds and for quick look around but nearly closing so caught the sunset and organised the 3day pass and booked a guide from the g.h for 5am the next morning to catch the sunrise.Went out for a quiet one at night,went into a diner on the 2nd floor which was really nice but empty and so had 5 waitors and smiling waitresses stood over or 4foot away whole time waiting to pounce on our every order!Menu had some delights like "bulls penis salad",Monkey Brain soup,but the best bit was the place was full of flying bugs,and the highlight a massive flying cockroach landing right in the middle of my plate of bruschetta!
Up at 5am and met our guide,Rhit waiting at the tuk tuk with hore,a really nice bloke who said "please sir,yes sir,welcome sir" every 2 seconds!Walked up the causeway and into Angkor Wat and waited around with everyone else who'd had the same idea catching photos of the sunrise in the moat reflecting the temples.

Spent 3hours walking around the Angkor Wat,the most famous of the temples, nearly 2000 years old when Siem Reap was the capital of Cambodia and all temples built by one King.Really smart temples,with engravings all the way round inside and out of history and pictures depicting ancient battles of the gods.
Also place where they filmed Street fighter and Mortal Kombat films and quite a few others as its the biggest mass of temples and religious buildings in the world.
After a quick brekkie break and another visit to the toilet(first and worst time for me to get Bangkok belly since id been away!) headed out further into the 30square kilometres of temples to the Bayou.

A huge temple with two entrances,depending on whether the army had lost or won the battle with the gate lined by stone guards and dragons,but the temple most famous for its hundreds of faces carved into the stone towers,looking out in all directions.

The place was amazing and took 100's of photos which all look the same but you just cant imagine the sight on camera.
Went next to another temple in the middle of the jungle where they had filmed "Tomb Raider"-the temples were most ruined of the bunch and when restorers arrived there found the jungle had taken over the temples and massive tree roots growing through and arround the stone walls.

Such a weird sight,some of the roots 30foot long and huge trees shooting up and snaking around the walls etc.


Finally got back to town after 9hours of temple watching and a really nice guide telling us everything about them,but also couldnt stop thanking us for helping his country by coming here and how he was sorry if he wasnt good enough-such a nice bloke!Was also telling us how 45% of Cambodians dont have jobs,the average wage is $50dollars a month,and the most paid politicians are still only on $1500 a month-thats like paying the chancelor 870quid a month!

He also said that the King makes 800thousand MILLION dollars a year just from the visitors to the temples,so if he split that per year amongst every person in Cambodia evryone could get 1/2 million dollars.But he doesnt,and every night we went out had beggars,people that had lost limbs from the land mines still lying around who would play music for money to help them and all the time the King is sitting on millions of dollars sat in a bank in Singapore!Cambodia-dodgy,corrupt but really different!!!

Spent next couple of days on the 3day pass off to smaller temples dotted around the site with hore in his tuk tuk,stopping every afternoon for half hour in torrential rain and storms in back with covers zipped up,and out at night to really nice bars in Siem Reap town.
After finishing temples me and Goncalo went for a massage called "seeing hands" a massage parlour run by the blind by way of getting an income so we thought itd be much better to try this than give to normal parlours.An hour for $4 of brilliant massage,they were something else!nearly fell asleep on the beds with the soft music playing getting stretched and pulled in all directions!
Went clubbing in Zone One bar rammed full of wealthy Cambodians raving away and where you could order a woman just at same time as a beer!but managed to get talking to a few girls from Leicester,so it put off the other girls from hassling us!
Bar street Siem Reap full of really trendy bars and restaurants that would cost a bomb to eat at in England,but when your sitting on the pavement drinking constantly hassled by beggars,women with children hanging off their arms asking for food,people with missing limbs from land mines that the government don't look after.
Went to watch the Portugal France game next night,Goncalo everytime someone came on Tv from Fifa or a president would jump out of his seat saying it was one of his mates!He has such a cool job,can get tickets for any game you could want and if Portugal won,was taking next flight from Siem Reap to Zurich and onto Germany as his mate got him tickets to the final!Hes met Michel Platini at a works do,drinks in the same club as Eusebio every other weekend (who sits in the same corner getting drunk surrounded by women)After watching them lose got talking to Laura and Laura(yeah weird!)from Ireland on their way to Australia and after getting kicked out of the bar went back to their bar where we woke up the manager at 4am to get some more beers and stayed till 7am drinking bottles of Angkor!Finally crawled back to our g.h and slept till 2the next day,went out at night for last meal and beers before Gonc had to get up next morning at 7am to get the famous hell journey in back of a pick up for 8hours through the biggest pot holes in the world all the way back to Bangkok where hes seeing for 2weeks before getting back to Portugal
Such a great laugh travelling Cambodia and seeing all the weird quirky stuff with him and after promising to get me Liverpool Champions Final tickets next year,and arranging to stop off at Lisbon to go on the beer with him said goodbye,changed my flight back to K.L early to the 9th.Spent the last 2days hired a bicycle rode to massive air balloon but too windy to fly and rode to a Crocodile farm where there were hundreds of baby and full grown crocs crammed into concrete swimming pools.
Bought about my 3rd pack of postcards off a young lad on the street,they follow you everywhere walking 10minutes by your side 10postcards for a dollar-not a lot but already had some!Anyway this lad obviously wanted to stand out from the rest and after asking where I was from carried on for 10minutes telling me the population of England,all the countries in the U.K and their borders and populations!I was that impressed and he deserved it so gave him a dollar for his tatty postcards!
Cambodia,one of the best places ive been so far!!!!!!
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