Indiana Jones and Lara Croft never seemed to struggle with the heat so much.
21.01.2012 - 23.01.2012 34 °C
Day 4 of the grand tour and time for some serious temple bashing. Ok, so I know this isn't going to make me popular, but it may re-inforce my point. I feel I have seen a lot of good stuff around the world. I've been to the great Catholic church's around Europe and Russia. I've seen the great mosques and temples of UAE, India, China and Istanbul. I have seen the Mayan ruins. I have even been to the Trafford Centre .
However the Angkor ruins surpassed them all. They're good. Really good. But surprisingly Angkor Wat was the least inspiring! They seem to have the perfect balance of mystique and age. You can't help but wonder why and how they were just left for 300 years. There were stories of them in the jungle, but just that, stories. No-one went to them. Even though most have been cleaned up and repaired you still feel like you could be discovering them yourself. Every turn is a exciting. It has really brought out my inner Indy.
We started on Saturday with Bob the Tuk Tuk driver taking us around some of the peripheral temples. I'm afraid it was jaw dropping stuff right from the word "go". The only negative was the slight failure to cope with mega hot conditions during midday. Thankfully there was one group of tourists fairing worse than the English, the Russians. They were in a bad shape. The temples are a bit of a photographers dream and some lucky devils may get the full unedited slide show when we return!!!
Sunday saw us team up with a Grasshopper tours and a guide Sam. Angkok Wat was a bit of a let down as hinted at above. Its big. It has lots of tourists. It lacks a bit of charm. Next we cycled to Angkor Thom (the main city), up on the walls and visited the famous Bayon before heading back via the Jungle temple. Bayon was especially amazing. Each of its 54 pillars have the four faces of Buddha / Brahma depending on which of the Buddist / Hindu kings was in power. It looks amazing and then as your eyes slowly start recognising hundreds of faces the temple become spectacular. The Jungle temple is famous for its impressive tree and root formations breaking through the walls. Tomb Raider movies made it even more famous. A hot but brilliant day.
Monday we were back with Bob to do an Angkor Wat sunrise. Its was nice to see the temple at that time of the day but the millions of mosquitos and equal number of Chinese on holiday (it was their New Year today) took the edge off it. After this we made the short journey to Tonle Sap: Cambodia's great lake. In the summer its a lake of 2500-3000sqkm. In the winter the huge flow of the Mekong actually reverses the flow of the river out it swells to an amazing 13,000sqkm. The locals who live on the lake have had to adapt to a 6m change in water levels through the year. As well as cruising around the village waving at happy kids we spent an hour being paddled through the mangrove forest. A tough life.
So we close out our stay in Siem Reap. We leave for Phnom Penh in the morning. 6 hours on the bus awaits. Siem Reap has been great. Clearly booming from the 8 million or so who come to see Angkor each year. Much more like Bali's Seminyak than 3rd world city I was expecting with great food and shops aiming at the mid range traveller. Thanks to the Cashew Nut for your hospitality: .
STUPID THINGS TRAVELLER'S SAY:
A new and exciting sub heading which I can see being updated regularly. So far Lynne has not managed any entries though this will likely change.
A close call for "entry of the week" this week had to go to the annoying Australians sat next to us at lunch. Very excited by the menu they were unable to make up their mind. "Can I have the hamburger with focaccia instead of bread, oh you do soups, they sound good, do they come with garlic bread, what sort of egg is in the egg sandwhich? Whats a fritta? Don't they have a lot of food in their country!"
But winner today was the from a young blonde girl from germany? She was asking a lot of questions of the cambodian helper in the photographic exhibition. She said she was keen to take some photographs of stars. "What time do the starts come out, I know when it gets dark, but what time after that?"