Angkor Wat (Day 3)

My last day in Cambodia started the same way as yesterday. I was down at breakfast by 7am and pickup was again at 7:30. Today we would go to a temple a bit further away called Banteay Srei. It was 25km away from the town and it took a while to get there. On the way to the temple I could see how the Cambodian people lived and worked.

  
  

At the temple I had the good fortune to have a bus load of Chinese tourists in front of me. Pictures therefore were difficult since the Chinese liked to pose with everything. Nonetheless the temple was beautiful, especially the carvings and reliefs, and it had a small section on the building architecture of the different temples at Angkor Wat. Very interesting and it highlighted the style evolution through the years. This would have been great to see on the first day actually, it would have made such a difference to the trip.

  
  
  
  

And here’s an aerial shot that I found in the instructions section.

Next up was the Cambodian Landmine Museum, a private initiative from a former child soldier. On the way there we stopped at a ‘gas station’.

In the museum all the shells and mines displayed have been deactivated by the Aki Ra, the founder of the museum and the relief facility next door. He started deactivating the mines with his bare hands but a couple of years ago he got the proper certificate to go on searching for mines and now he destroys them according to the international standards (which is blowing them up).

  

After the museum we did one last temple, the Bantay Samre. By then I was quite tired of all the temples and ready for a change of scenery.


We drove back to the hotel where I had the time to go for lunch before I needed to finish packing. This time I ordered a glass noodle salad and it was very good. Maybe the secret to good food in Cambodia is to order Thai instead? I know this sounds unfair and I will have to give Cambodia a second chance.

At the hotel I took one last look around and then it was already time to go to the airport.

  

Mara drove me with his tuk-tuk to the airport and a little while later I was already off to Laos. Yours, Pollybert

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Angkor Wat (Day 2)

My second day started a lot more relaxed than my first. I had breakfast at my guesthouse and had a coffee in the morning. Therefore a 7:30 pickup was quite alright. We wouldn’t be the masses but there weren’t masses expected anyway. It was monsoon season after all.

Today we had the big round planned and it was called thus because the temples are a bit further apart. The first one for today was Preah Khan. The temple had its own driveway leading up to it, beautifully lined with statues left and right.

  

  

     
        
  

I have noticed that I was taking quite a lot of pictures at the first temple. Something that had to change when going to the second one which was to be Neak Pean. To get there I had to walk over a long wood boardwalk and the temple itself couldn’t be visited, not even surrounded. You could just walk a bit to the left and the right of it.

The whole temple tour might sound rather boring but it was not. At every temple I had to fight off legions of vendors with pants, scarves, books, postcards, paintings etc. and more often than not I lost. I just bought something to be left alone for a while. The temple though were wonderful if not a bit much after a time. Temple number three for the day was Ta Som.

  
Number four was Eastern Mebon. I can’t really say much to the temples, I bought a book about them though and will read up later. Most of them were from the 10-12th century and looked quite similar or so it started to feel by then. It was definitely hotter than the day before because we started later. And my attention span was after one and a half days on half mast. IMG_5981 IMG_5983
  

After the fourth temple one I had a short coffee break before going to Pr. Prerup. Here I also saw a huge black and white spider which made an interesting web.

        
  
By now it was noon and I was exhausted again from the heat and the constant walking up and down. But the day was far from over because now we cam to the most famous of landmarks, Angkor Wat. Maybe it was the heat or the lateness of seeing it after all the other temples, but Angkor Wat didn’t impress me that much. It was probably best renovated compared to the other temples and it had beautiful Bas Relief Galleries but that’s about it. Of course it was built surrounded by water but still, there were others more impressive. To get to it I had to cross a long paved walk which was guarded at the beginning by seven-headed snakes and lions on each side.

  
Once I exited the first building I saw that another paved road lay ahead. Actually make that a huge park like area with ‘libraries’ left and right and still far ahead the main building structure.

  
  
  
  
  

The rest of the buildings was sparse, especially compared to the reliefs which were mind-blowing all things considered. So maybe I judged to harsh. Looking at the pictures now makes me see Angkor Wat in a different light. It was impressive after all. Here some more pictures from inside.

  
  

And that was it for the day then. When I walked back to Mara and his tuk-tuk I saw a horse, a rare sight so far on this trip.

The rest of the afternoon was spent napping and swimming. For dinner I didn’t even make it as far as the main street but stayed close to the hotel. I met some cows on the road and had another boring dinner although the fresh green pepper was very tasty. It didn’t matter since I was bone tired and ready to call it a night. Yours, Pollybert

  

Angkor Wat (Day 1)

Starting the day at 4:40am was really not such a great thing. But I wanted to see the sunrise so I had to do it. On the recommendation of Tim, the owner of the Apple Rose Guesthouse I forewent Angkor Wat and the hordes of tourists and would start my day in Ta Prohm.

Of course without coffee it was difficult but I got a breakfast box for later and with no delay Mara and I were on our way.


As you can see it was still dark when we left. The ticket office and the park (Angkor Wat is just one temple of many and all of them are in a park called Angkor Wat) opened at 5am and I didn’t want to wait out the sunrise in a queue.

There was no one really waiting, just a couple of other early get uppers. I got my three-day pass with my picture on it (picture was done on the spot) in no time and off we went to the first temple. Ta Prohm was a great choice because during sunrise there was exactly one other tourist with me. And I was glad that I wasn’t alone since there were all kinds of noises (I later noticed small monkeys)IMG_5555 IMG_5557 IMG_5561 IMG_5563 IMG_5569 IMG_5574 IMG_5573 IMG_5572 IMG_5570  

When I left the temple the sun was out and I found Mara sleeping on the back seat. Understandable, he must have made the tour a hundred times. Our next stop was Sras Srang which looked less like a temple but one big pool. No swimming though in these holy waters (not that I know but I didn’t see anyone). Here I also made a short stop and had an ice coffee at one of the stalls plus I bought postcards. I noticed that my bargaining skills wouldn’t work here because everything was one dollar. Couldn’t cut one in half and local money I hadn’t seen so far.

  

Right across from Sras Srang was Banteay Kdei were Tomb Raider was filmed. A very beautiful temple with interesting details.

     

After the third temple I was hungry and fished around in my breakfast box. I found a croissant, some bananas and a yoghurt that got mostly spilled over my pants due to my not enough road checking while eating. Nonetheless it helped sustaining me for the next temples.

Number four was the Ta Keo temple which had the steepest steps I had seen so far. Reminded me a lot of Chichen Itza in Yucatan. Maybe they did sacrifices here too?

  
  
  

Temple number five was Thommanon.

     

Right across from it was the next temple, called Chau Say Tevoda.


  

  

By that time I felt exhausted from all the temples but the small round was far from over. We drove off to the Bayon, temple number eight. The Bayon is a part of the Angkor Tom complex and to get there we had to enter by the South Gate.

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From the Bayon I had to make my way along the North South route to the Tep Pranam, passing Baphoun Temple, Phimeanakas & the Royal Palace, the Elephants Terrace and the Leper King Terrace. What I didn’t take into account at 4:30 in the morning when I was getting dressed was that my attire was not right for the temples. So far I hadn’t had any problems but the guard at the Baphoun Temple wouldn’t relent and sent me away (as many others). And while I was annoyed at first, it was my own fault and now I just don’t care anymore.

  

So this is the place I couldn’t get into and believe me I tried. I walked around it and was prepared to sneak up the back way. Not a chance!

So I passed the temple without going up and moved on to everything else on this road.IMG_5823 IMG_5825 IMG_5827 IMG_5830IMG_5832 IMG_5834 IMG_5835 IMG_5836 IMG_5838 IMG_5840 IMG_5842 IMG_5843 IMG_5844IMG_5845IMG_5846IMG_5847

You can’t imagine how exhausted I was after the last temple for the day. I took a break right then and there and had another ice coffee and some fried rice. It was lunch time after all and my breakfast had been hours ago. Thus refreshed I was ready to go back to the hotel. We left the Angkor Tom complex through the North Gate which was in better condition than its counterpart.

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When I was back at my hotel I was so glad that I took the advice of one of my fellow travelers to book a hotel with a pool. I spent the afternoon napping and around 4pm or so I made my way to the pool. No point in being outside during the hottest hours of the day.IMG_5862Dinner then was a quiet and early affair. I walked the 10 minutes to the main street and the first thing I notice is a pub street. Definitely not the right thing for tonight. I was still tired from the day and the early get up.IMG_5864

Instead I walked up the main street, looked for a decent street food place and tried Cambodian cuisine. Yeah, what can I say….I was not really convinced.IMG_5865 IMG_5868 IMG_5870

On my way home I passed a small massage parlor and saw two people coming out. I asked them if they could recommend the place and since both said readily yes, I decided spontaneously to enter and get my feet in shape. I had another long day coming up. Yours, Pollybert

 

 

Leaving Vietnam

My last morning started with the usual soup at the hotel and then Willemeijn and I walked to a nearby indoor market. Here is the street on which our hotel was, right in the middle of the backpacker district.

  

The indoor market was not very exciting but there was not much else to do for the last couple of hours. At the market everything imaginable was sold. We strolled around for a while, looking at all the stalls and trying on clothes but ended up buying nothing.

  
  
  
What I did end up buying though was a small ice cream at Baskin Robbins that was about three times as expensive as the lunch we had after. Because while sitting in the air conditioned shop we were watching the street and noticed a lot of people going for lunch into the corner shop. And this is exactly what we did. A last soup with all kinds of sausages and meat inside and a local ice tea. Life can’t get much better.

  

After lunch it was time for me to walk back to the hotel and catch my shuttle. The shuttle was again a private car and in no time was I at the airport. Due to the international flight I had to be there two hours earlier so I spent my time wandering around.

Finally we boarded and after a little over an hour I landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Immigration was quick and efficient and I was happy I had the necessary picture with me. I was also happy that I hadn’t done the online application which would have been more expensive and wouldn’t have saved any time at all.

  

The Rose Apple Guesthouse I had booked for my three night stay had a free pickup service and Mara (I really hope this is the way he spells his name) was already waiting for me with his tuk-tuk.


At the hotel Tim, the Belgian owner welcomed me and helped me plan my next three days touring Angkor Wat with Mara. I decided on starting with a sunrise tour so the next day pickup would be very early. I therefore stayed in that evening and went to bed early. Yours, Pollybert