07.03.2016 - 11.03.2016 43 °C
Day 22 - 08 March 2016
Siem Reap and Angkor Wat?
Tom, our tuk tuk driver, picked us up from the hotel to kick off day 1 of 3 of our tour of Angkor Wat and the various temples.
The tuk tuks in Siem reap were different to the ones that we took before with the motorbike separate to the passenger trailer which looked like a sleigh.
We drove for about 20 minutes in rush hour traffic until we got to the ticket booth where we stopped to purchase our 3 day tickets for Angkor.
We then carried onto the temples. At 830 in the morning, Angkor was extremely busy with tour buses, traders, tuk tuks and masses of tourists all heading to or leaving Angkor, the main temple and /or visiting the other temples. We started our tour in central Angkor Thom where we walked around the Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Sras srei, tep pranam and the Elephant terrace.
These temples that are now lying in ruins were spectacular and amazing with the most intricate carvings of heads of buddhas, snakes and dragons etc etched into the stonework. It is also truly remarkable that with all the footfall of tourists every year, that they are still in a reasonably recognised state to see the original layout and design.
After taking countless pictures and walking through the whole area, we then returned and passed through the South gate which is essentially that, a narrow entrance under an arch between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. The bridge on one side of it was truly amazing with a whole line of buddha statues, exact copies of each other, with a dragons head on both sides at the end.
Last stop of this part of the tour was the very famous Angkor wat, the biggest single religious monument in the world. First we walked across the bridge that connected the temple to the mainland as it was built on a moat, surrounded by water.
Then we went through the periphery structure that surrounded Angkor Wat. On the far side of this, we finally got to see the 3 magnificently recognisable towers of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples which were quite similar to the churches at home that we are familiar with.
We walked along the long path leading up to it taking pictures from all sides.
We also climbed up the steps of Bakan where we had amazing views down and around the complex.
After absorbing enough of the old ruins for one day, we got back in our tuk tuk with tom who was patiently waiting for us, and headed back towards the city, exhausted from the walking, climbing and the sheer heat of the day.
We had some lunch in the old market and got some energy into us after the mornings tour.
We decided to head straight back to the hotel then but what should have taken us 15 minutes, took us about an hour as we went down a different road but we took a wrong turn and got a little lost. Finally, we found our way back and were glad to get in out of the heat.
All I wanted was a dip in the pool and I got straight into cool off. We relaxed by the pool until it was time to go for dinner.
We got a tuk tuk to 'pub street' and found a nice restaurant called Red Piano where we tried typical Khmer food; lok lak which is beef cooked in spices and herbs, fried egg and rice.
We wandered around the night market buying one or two small things and headed to Malone's Irish pub to see if there was anything going on there.
Day 23 - 09 March 2016
Angkor Wat and Tomb Raider temples
We were on the road at 745 this overcast, humid morning to get another look at Angkor Wat in the early morning sun.
People were leaving Angkor when we arrived as they were probably there from sunrise as that is a really popular time for taking photos.
We took the long walk to the main Angkor structure and walked all over the sections that we hadn't covered the day before.
We headed back to Tom in the tuk tuk and he had a plan for us to see the temple that was made famous by the filming of Angelina Jolie and the Tomb raider movie. This was called Ta Prohm and I will definitely try and watch this movie when I get home, now that I have visited the film location.
That was the end of the second tour around Angkor and we got dropped off at the hotel for some rest and relaxation. The swimming pool beckoned me again and I did some hotel reviews on Trip advisor in between strokes aswell as trying to finish the book of Suduko puzzles that I started in 2010 and have only being doing on holidays or when travelling.
Around 730pm in the evening, we headed out to the restaurant/bar area of the city, strolling around streets that were called 'the alley', 'the passage' and 'the lane'. We found an incredible Mexican restaurant where the food was superb and more importantly, the beer was cheap. We explored some more of the markets and bought some ornaments and paintings, very tempting as they were.
We decided to call it a night with a 2 dollar tuk tuk ride back to the hotel and another busy day planned for day 3.
Day 24 - 10 March 2016
The Grand Tour
Not as early a start on this day as tom picked us up at 10am at our hotel for day 3 of the Angkor ruins grand tour. There were six temples in total to visit on this tour and 30 minutes later, we were at the first one of them, having got our tickets stamped at the ticket booth, which is compulsory everyday.
Pre Rup was in a very similar physical state as the tomb raider temple or any of the others that we had visited in the previous few days.
Then we went onto and walked all around the ruins of East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean, and Preah Khan, all different in their own unique way.
After a typical cambodian lunch of Amok and a rest in a hammock, we headed onto our last stop of the Grand Tour, Phnom Bakheng for sunset.
En route, we stopped to take some more pictures at elephant terrace and Bayon, which is really something special. We also spotted some monkeys at the side of the road playing and climbing trees and we gave them some fruits which they gladly took from us, proof of which was caught on video.
We climbed up the hill to see the sunset at Phnom Bakheng arriving at around 3pm. We were suprised to see people next to the temple before we got there but throngs more arrived after us as there was a maximum number of people allowed up on the sacred grounds at any one time. We waited for about 3 hours until the sun more or less disappeared as the sky was quite cloudy and overcast so, as it was difficult to see.
Having completed the 3 days of sightseeing around Angkor including the Grand Tour, we were thrilled with ourselves for having stuck it out and seeing it all.
Back to the hotel for a quick change and shower and we were back in a tuk tuk again, this time to the Siem Reap brew pub. The place turned out to be empty which is never a good sign but after sampling their food and their own home brews, we were well impressed. They had a great restaurant, brewing business and brand to back it up but Angkor and Cambodian is still the favourite amongst locals and tourists alike and its alot cheaper aswell.