Today was one of those days I was looking forward to since first booking this trip, but it was also one of the days we knew could end up being the most physically taxing to get through. The reason why I was looking forward to it is it was my chance to finally see one of the ancient wonders of the world, and though it’s not up there with places I hold dear in Egypt, Central America, and South America, Angkor Wat was still going to be pretty cool.
The reason why it was going to be so taxing was it was a full day tour, of 5 temples, and that could mean possibly covering over 10kms of walking, both on flat ground, and up and down steep temples. But bring it on I thought! So we got up early, at 6.30am, and headed down for breakfast at the guest house at around 7am, and by 8am the whole group were on our bus with Jay, and our own personal tour guide for the day who was going to show us around the Angkor region.
A 5 minute drive got us to the ticket area where we got our passes which we had to have on us the whole day, and then we were off again to the main attraction Angkor Wat! One thing we were warned of were the people selling things and the beggars. Once again we were told their tricks, such as they will say something is a $1 to get your attention, but then hike the price up by bombarding you with questions and pressure, and if they saw one person was able to stop you, they will all then try. We were also told to not give money to the beggars, as they do have places they can go to, and the more money that is given by tourists means it becomes an industry in its own right and more beggars will turn up.
We spent 2 1/2 hours at Angkor Wat and it was pretty damn cool! It was great having a tour guide tell us about the history and how things were made, and I was listening closely, but I must say a few hours of that in the extreme wet heat made me lose focus for the rest of the day. The temp had got to the mid 30s, so it was pretty damn hot, and by the time we had got back on the bus to head to the second temple, you could tell a few people were already over it.
The next temple was Angkor Thom, and though it was a bit different than the first, it kind of blurred into one if I was being honest. But at least this was the place we started to see monkeys! Not that they were causing any of the issues we had heated they could, as really they just kept to themselves. We stayed an hour at this temple before heading off for lunch, which was actually pretty good. It started to rain while we were eating, but it was 3 bursts of a few minutes each, and that was it for the rest of the day, which for the rest of it was a mix of sunny skies and a few clouds.
The third temple was my favourite and was called Ta Prohm temple, and it had trees growing through it all as if trying to reclaim it back to the forrest. So there were many great photo spots, and visually just a very cool place to see during our hour there. Also Mollidy had a local security guard hit on her, which I’m now using as my go to for teasing her. It went something like this. He said hello to her in Cambodian, and she said hello back in Cambodian. He then asked how she was in Cambodian, and even though she knew what he said, she ignored it. He then asked the same question in English, and this time she had to reply as she felt like she couldn’t ignore it. He then asked where she was from, and she said New Zealand. He then said with a sleazy expression, “you pretty girl”, which she ignored and quickly walked off to catch up with me.
The 4th temple, Takeo, was the smallest, and we were there for only 30 minutes, but it had good views at the top and massive amounts of dragonflies doing their thing. The last temple, Banteay Srey, was the furthest away, about 30kms, and that was a flat and spread out complex, so no climbing up and down for once.
By the time we got back to the hotel it had been an 8am to 6pm day, so we were all tired, and very very hot and sweaty, so to say getting out of our clothes and into a shower felt good would be an understatement! It was a free evening, so we could do what ever we wanted, and so after relaxing, Mollidy and myself walked the 1km into town and found a place to eat. We went to Pub Street, which is Siam Reaps attempt at copying Khao San road in Bangkok, and though it’s not as busy, it’s actually got a very cool vibe all it’s own.
Having been eating local Asian food for a week we decided to eat something western, so burgers and chips was a good choice, and afterwards we decided to finally get our first cheap massage, a 30 minute foot and leg massage for only $4US. After that though Mollidy said she wished we had got the 1 hour, so she suggested facials, and I thought why not as I had never got one before! So we got hour long facials each, and that was an experience for sure!
We then walked back to the guest house, and I’m sure by the time we had done that walk, we must have covered the 10kms I thought we would for the day, and so a second shower was in order before putting our heads down to sleep reasonably early, at around 11.30pm, and with no alarm to be set the next day, as the whole day was a free day for us, made us feel bloody content!
This last bit I want touch on today is the internet version of what you’re ordering, and the reality. In Bangkok especially, you see the photos for hotels, restaurants, and other places online and think it looks great. Once you get there though you realise photos can be very deceiving, as a well taken picture can hide the real truth. Also if they say they have certain ‘facilities’, be prepared for the fact that actually means they are near by, and not on site.