Trip Start Feb 01, 2007
22Trip End Jan 17, 2008
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Where I stayed
From Koh Tao Adam, Louise and I caught a boat to the mainland town of Champorn which took about 4 hours, from there we caught a bus to Bangkok. The whole trip cost us 500baht. It was cheap as we would arrive in Bangkok at 5am on Monday morning. I arrived in Bangkok with no where to stay so all 3 of us went looking around the guesthouses. Most of them were fully booked apart from the most expensive ones which charged 590baht. Eventually we gave up and I went back to Adam and Louise's apartment for a few hours. By 11am we were back on the streets of Bangkok. I managed to find a place called 'My Guesthouse'. They only charged 1.90baht for a single room with toilet and shower-bargain.
Once my accommodation was sorted I then had to get a Vietnam visa, which meant I had to give my passport away to a tour operator
On Thursday 22March, I checked into my new hotel where my tour group would be meeting. I have my first hot shower in about a 3weeks -bliss. At 6.30 that night we all met in the reception for our meet and greet, there were 8 people in total:-
Bo- Cambodian (Tour Leader)
Just before we went for a meal, I went to collect my passport- praying that it had arrived with the visa
The next day, we left the hotel at 6.30 for the 4hour trip to the Thai/Cam boarder, which would be the easy bit. The journey from the Cam boarder to Sien Reap has a notorious reputation and is sometimes knick named the dancing road. The boarder crossing was a hectic place and like the Thai's the Cambodians are in no rush. It cost about $20 for a Cam visa at the boarder. Eventually, we hit the road, or lack there of, more of a dirt track, and in true form it lived up to its reputation. We probably spent more time in mid air than on the seats. If the road wasn't bad enough we also had to put up with cars, trucks and bikes coming from the opposite direction and kamikaze cows, who would just walk onto the road. Our tour guide Bo, told us that during the wet season the whole road is under water, and the travelers would sometimes have to help push the minibus. The journey could also take up to 10hours to complete, whereas it only took us 5/6hours.
Sien Reap is a relatively small city. Sien means Thai (in Cambodian) and Reap means Pushed away. The name refers to when a Thai army invaded Cambodia and took ownership of Angkor Wat. However the Cambodians managed to defeat the Thai and forced them out of Cambodia. Even to day, it is unwise to talk about Angkor Wat in Thailand as it is a very sensitive issue. Once we checked into our hotel, Keelin, Tracey, Udesh and I we went off to explore the city, we headed for down town which where all the bars and clubs are located. On our first night there we went to a pub called 'Angkor What?', which according to its sign post & t-shirt has been promoting irresponsible drinking since 1998. At this bar you can write your name on any wall or any table- My name is on one of the corners of an outside table, if anybody goes there in the future
Our first full day in Sien Reap would be spent visiting 5 Wats (Temples)
The 1st temple was Angkor wat which is probably the most impressive and well known temple. It is around 1000years old and was created by Suryouarman II, to celebrate the Hindu faith of Cambodia. The main moat around the temple once contains thousands of crocodiles- which have all but gone now. The engraving on the wall depicted creation in the Hindu faith and amongst other things the 32 levels of hell. These showed people getting tortured for the different crimes they did e.g. gossipers, would have a stick down their throat and would be reincarnated as a mute.
Angkor Thom was the second temple we visited. This temple was created by king Jayouarman VII, who built a total of 49 temples in 40 years. This temple is famous for its carved faces depicting the four traits of man; compassion, equality, sympathy, and kindness. King Jayouarman VII converted Cambodia from Hindu to Buddhism. So the 49 temples he built was a mixture of both religions.
Preah Thom and Ta Prohm temples were until recently covered in jungle. Most of it has now been cut away, but there is still evidence of that hidden past
The last temple of the day was Pre Rup. The temple pre-dates Angkor Wat and was almost entirely made from bricks. This is where we planned to watch the sunset but unfortunately they sky was a little bit cloudy, but I still managed to get some photos. As it had been a long, hot day and seeing as we had a free morning the following day, we decided to go for a night out in Sien Reap.
We started off by going for a meal inside a Cambodia market. I ordered Beef Stake (I had a craving for it) and French fries. As I waited for my food, I couldn't wait to tuck into my juicy stake, the reality was completely different; the beef was shredded into little pieces. (The following day we went back to the same place, this time I ordered stewed pork and khmer cheese- what I got was stewed port with an egg- No Cheese).
After we headed to a karaoke place, where we drank and sang for a couple of hours it only cost $5 to book a room. After my performance, I should definitely apply for the next series of X-Factor. At about 11.30 we headed for a Cambodian club called BK. We thought it wasn't far away so we decided to walk. - In fact it was miles away. It didn't help that our tour leader was drunk so he got lost so had to ask for direction. Eventually, we go there. The club had the usual signs e.g. no guns, grenades, or drugs. Once we got our seats we hit the dance floor. Cambodia dancing seemed to consist of standing in one position and nodding your head to the music. Most of the time, they stood next to us laughing at our dancing styles. There also seemed to be sort of x-rated movie playing on a large screen above the dance floor
The final day at Sien Reap was very relaxed, but very very hot. We had the morning off to recover from the night before. The afternoon was spent visiting a floating village. From a distance it looked like one mass congregation of boat houses- like something out of water world. But as we got closer we realized all the boats houses were separated. As we headed towards them we saw boats heading straight for us. When they pulled up along side us, it turned out to be children offering fruits. The floating village contained 500 families (5000 people), we were told they lived on the lake as they did not know how to make money on land. We also stopped by a floating croc farm, which was in the middle of a floating village, in the middle of a lake! The farm contained about 20 crocs, if they escaped from their enclosure there would be plenty of people to feed on. All sorts of animals would be kept on the boats including dogs, pigs, and chickens.