We got up in our own time, getting breakfast and waiting outside was a tuk tuk or remork in Cambodia. The guy Mr Samnang offered to take us around for 15 dollars total to see several of the temples. We had done a bit of asking about and this seemed reasonable.
So we jumped in and off we went to our first stop, Angkor Wat, the most famous of the khmer temples. We got our $40 three day tickets, you have your picture printed onto them too. Setting off from the ticket station we entered the forest that surrounds the temple area and emerged with a great moat in front of us.
It was stunning scenery and we hadn’t even seen the temple yet! As we rounded a bend you could see the masses gathering at the drop off point, although it was busy it wasn’t as packed out as I thought it would be, so we crossed the bridge into the outer building. As soon as we were clambering up steps and through passageways I felt like Indiana Jones, one wrong step and a giant boulder would be chasing us down the halls.
It was a lot of fun, and by turning off the beaten path you can make your way round the grounds towards Wat without meeting too many others. I think because a lot of people see the sunrise then explore and move on we missed the busiest time of day.
The views were excellent as we crossed the grass filled with spiders webs glistening in the sunlight. Angkor Way itself is very well kept and impressive in it’s enormity. We didn’t climb to the top as the queue was massive and everyone in it looked like they were about to collapse in the growing heat! As we got to the other side we headed down some steps where a little monkey was gnawing away at some bread. As I passed he suddenky bared his teeth and when Leia passed he looked like he was about to lunge at her, luckily a tour guide was nearby and chased him off.
I’m starting to wonder about these monkeys. I’ve never been a big fan since reading about chimps biting people’s faces off.
After thus stressful moment we strolled on down to the far end of the grounds past huge trees with plants crawling round their trunks. We made it to the moat and another gate on this side and enjoyed the view.
We carried on to meet Samnang at the drop point waking past a load of sellers and food places pleading for your money. I gave in and bought some post cards from a young girl, even though I’ve seen signs saying not to. It’s hard as they follow you begging ‘Mr Mr one dollarrrr pleasseee Mr’ anyway, we made it back to the tuk tuk and next stop, Angkor Thom! This is meant to be one of the best ones to visit and it didn’t disappoint.
Samnang had some ice cold water for us before he dropped us off and told us to walk at our leisure through the grounds of Thom. I found this to be my cup of tea more than Wat as it’s more ruinous and trees are growing up and around the walls and buildings. We were refused entry to one temple due to Leia wearing a vest as it’s bad to bare your shoulders. This didn’t matter as we came upon gates, temples and ruins through an amazing forest. At one point Leia had gone through a dingy looking building, as I followed she threw a seed from a tree into space in front of me and I jumped about a foot in the air, dropped my sun glasses and scrambled out of there. Leia was in hysterics! I was a mess.
There’s so much to see and do at Angkor Thom I think you could spend hours in the forest finding all the different ruins. We started off at the Bayon temple before being dropped off further into the grounds. Tue Bayon was a state temple of a king and there are 216 faces bearing down on you from the various towers and buildings. That was really fun to climb over and under and every turn was greeted with beautiful stone carvings on the walls.
As we emerged from the temples Samnang was there waving for us to meet him further down the walls we were on.
Setting off from Thom we drove past 4 amazing buildings surrounded by trees and through great gates towering over our little tuk tuk. Our next stop was Ta Prohm, the ‘tomb raider’ temple which has great trees and roots growing over it, showing the power of nature to reclaim lost ground. It was great but after 4 hours or so of temples it’s hard to be as enthused about each one. We did see the biggest spider I’ve ever seen outside of the zoo or a good Attenborough doc. It was suspended in the middle of a huge web, long spindly legs reaching out, it was probably just over the size of my palm.
Getting goose bumps we continued on the path, Ta Prohm has two gates and you enter one before meeting your driver on the other side. It was fun but compared to what we would see on day 3 it didn’t compare.
All templed out, my t shirt and shorts a completely darker shade than they were when I left, we headed back to the hotel. I loved the temples. The 216 faces were great and Angkor Thom feels like such an adventure as you’re left to your own devices, although we were always wary of mines when choosing the right path! I’m sure they have put extra effort into ensuring there are none but you never know!
Back at the hotel we scrubbed the dirt away and got ready for tea. Not really having an idea of where to go we ended up in a small restaurant just across the river. The food was really good! Liam had a seafood noodle dish, while I had salt n pepper wings, mango salad and garlic rice. Leia went for mango salad, de boned chicken leg and boiled rice. The chicken leg came raw on a huge hit stone, sizzling away.
After food we still craved something more and had walked past an ice cream parlour so without much thought we went in, sat down and ordered two huge sundaes for Leia and I and Liam had a crepe with all the trimmings. They were incredible, just what we needed to refuel. It was still early and we had promised ourselves a lie in the next day so we went into the centre and managed to find a gay bar! Cambodia is quite open and accepting in the bigger towns much like Thailand, it was pretty empty though with just a couple of Belgians say nearby. After a drink and a wander round the others were tired so it was back to the hotel.
Tomorrow is all about relaxing before hitting the temples sunset, Samnang had promised us a place that would be less busy than Angkor but just as good a sunset.