Horses, temples and a possible snake.

Trip Start Jul 24, 2009
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Trip End Jun 30, 2010


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Where I stayed
Number 10 Lodge

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hi

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. He very different from the 15.2hh fat cob I'm used to, felt as though there was nothing underneath me!! He was good though, listened to me and shifted when I wanted him to. Nothing fazed him including buffalo, calves running, children screaming សេះ (horse in Khmer, took me ages to find that!) and motorbikes. He had a great canter which came in handy as we rode between the rice paddies where the ground is very undulating. The 3 hour ride was amazing as we were able to ride through small villages and visited a temple where a trainee monk showed me around as Ahang grazed happily. People were so excited and friendly and everybody waved as we rode by.  I won't go on about it too much as I am very conscious about boring people with horsey experiences so you look at the pictures (do email me if you want me to bore you with details about tack, paces, feed and foals!). It has to be one of the best horse rides ever and I would thoroughly recommend the ranch to anyone going to Siem Reap...... Oh god it's raining now and he is still out on the ladder with the drill!!!.......

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. Angkor Wat is huge and awesome. I had guide initial but shook him off as it is the sort of place you want to explore independently. Still can't believe all the stone used to build the kingdom all came down from the mountains using elephants. As you walk over the stone there a 50p size holes in the rock which is where the chains where laced through them to attach them to the elephants.It is much busied that I had thought but I really appreciated the experience. You can't climb on as much as you used to be able to but you can still explore most of it. I think it is only a matter of time before you will only be able to view the temples from afar.

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.
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Comments

elaine1709
elaine1709 on

Reptiles as presents.
Thank you, darling, a scarf will do!!!!

Great horse story. May I apply for the equine details?

kateeh
kateeh on

ooooooooooooooooooooooooh.
i'm telling India you have a new horsey love.

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