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.


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.

IMG_5855 IMG_5857 IMG_5859

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



Exploring Kathmandu*

After our first highlight of the trip we arrived back at the hotel to get some breakfast and start with our guided tour. Our guide came to pick us up with Progress our organizer. Today we had the Stupa Swayambhunath on the program as our first stop. A short car ride later and we got out at the foot 365 steps to explore our first stupa. A stupa is closed on all sides and cannot be entered.
IMG_0456 IMG_0468 IMG_0471

Lots of little monkeys were all around the steps and the stupa. Once up at the stupa we saw that there were prayer mills all around. You have to turn them when you pass and it will cleanse your should (or so). Whatever the reason it felt good doing it. Like a mantra. So instead of saying “om” like the Hindus, one turns the mills.IMG_0473 IMG_0475

We slowly made our way around the stupa and sneaked a peek inside the temple. Lots of candles and a big Buddha statue were inside. Outside we saw people getting a Teeka, the traditional blessing on the forehead. All around were dogs, mostly sleeping and resting in the sun. As we would later learn the dogs here are sleeping during the day and barking all night long. Most of these dogs are stray but look well fed.

We finally exited at the main entrance, decorated with lots of buddhist prayers flags.IMG_0509

From there we drove to Patan, the second royal city of Kathmandu valley. There are three royal cities all in all founded by three brothers. Their positive competition is appreciated now by the tourists.IMG_0532IMG_0547

The kings by the way are always residing on top of a pillar overlooking their grand achievements. And here some more details from the buildings.IMG_0553
IMG_0557 IMG_0559

Then it was finally time for short break and we had lunch in the garden of the Patan museum which was restored to its former splendor with the help of the Austrian government. We tried momos again and fried chili tofu. IMG_0574
IMG_0578 IMG_0579 IMG_0562

One last look at the Durbar square in Patan and then we were on our way back to Kathmandu. There we were let out at the Durbar square (all royal cities have their own Durbar square), paid our entrance fee (or rather the guide did) and we started with the last part of the day. Also very impressive and full of vendors and at the end of it all the house of the Kumari (a child goddess). IMG_0636
A quick peek into the house of the Kumari told us that she was not there and we moved on to king’s palace. The very popular King of Nepal was murdered by his son the crown prince and then his disliked brother moved onto the throne from which he had to abduct in 2008. IMG_0643
Our guide asked us if we wanted to take another look around but we were tired after this super long day and ready for a break at the Tibet Guesthouse. We had a nap and then later went downstairs for tea and to meet Progress to get our trekking permit.
Although I wanted to go outside for dinner, Progress convinced us to try the local Dal Bhat at the hotel. It was an excellent choice and shortly after we fell exhausted into our bed.
Yours, Pollybert

*All pictured taken on April 23, 2015.