It’s our last evening in Siem Reap. Lots to recount but I’ll try and keep it brief.
On Saturday we headed out to Banteay Srei as we planned. It was well worth the 40 min drive if only for the view of the countryside and villages that we passed through. We left early enough to avoid the hordes – there was a procession of tour buses heading out there on our return journey.
After stopping at another temple whose name I forget we headed back to the main Angkor complex with a small diversion looking for one of the very minor temples. The road out to it was a muddy track and the temple itself was a bit of a mystery – to Mr Sna our tuk-tuk driver and locals alike. We gave up after half an hour of fruitless searching but got to see some of the countryside off the tourist trail.
After a very long lunch to try and avoid the worst of the heat we completed the “outer circuit” in the afternoon. The highlight was definitely Preah Khan it had similar qualities to Ta Prohm with overgrown and partially destryed sections but with a greater variety of spaces including some interesting courtyards and secret passages.
Yesterday we hired bikes and rode back out to Angkor Wat itself. Cambodian bikes are definitely not designed for people my size so had a few structural issues on the way out. It was a beautiful morning however and the ride made the journey much more pleasant. Once inside the Wat we spent the morning reading in various nooks and crannies while slowly taking in the bas-reliefs along the galleries at the base of the temple.
For dinner we finally caught up with some of Chhay’s relatives and had a fantastic feast of sour soup, prawns and baked fish. The food (and the company) was so good in fact that we were back there for lunch today and are on our way back for dinner at the moment!
This morning we headed out to the Floating Village with one of Chhay’s cousins. Floating schools, floating workshops even floating pig farms, it was all there. After using our local contacts to finally grab some food at local prices we went to the West Barray, a giant man-made lake that was part of the Angkor complex and around which the locals have set up awnings and hammock to chill out in. I went for a bit of a dip but the water was the temperature of a bath so it wasn’t particularly refreshing.
We are off to Battambang tomorrow – it is the provincial capital and supposedly quite a sleeply little place to chill out in (although I am tearing through our reading material with all the relaxing we have been doing & won’t have much left soon). We are taking the boat which is supposed to be quite spectacular – as long as it doesn’t sink!
Back from a full day of exploring the so called ”Ãnner circle” of Angkor which is primarily based in and around Angkor Thom.
We are quite templed out as our driver was very reluctant to take us back to our guesthouse for a mid-day break as is the supposed custom. Hence we ended up touring sites during the middle of the day, with only englishmen for company (even teh dogs here are too smart for that). Tommorrow a siesta mid trip is definitely in order.
The highlight by far was Ta Prohm which has been left in large parts as found with the jungle still consuming it. It was quite peacefull and ethereal with intricate passages leading to spooky ruined courtyards. Wandering through dark passages we stumbled on buddah statues wrapped in saffron robes, and were suprised by the occasioinal Buddist nun tucked into an alcove making offerings and blessing us.
Angkor Thom had some very pleasant elements but was over-run with tourists generally. The most interesting part for us was when we escaped from the masses and explored some smaller temples nestled in the jungle to the east of the main attractions – we had the whole place to ourselves and had a relaxed stroll through the area.
Sick of paying tourist prices for food we delved into the slightly dubious world of Khmer Street food this evening. Customer service is definitely not a forte (along with hygine one suspects) but the food was reasonably tasty and at less than a dollar a dish it is difficult to complain. I’ll keep you updated on whether our experiement is a success in further installments 😉
Tommorrow we are planning a visit to Banteay Srei which is a bit of a trip north of the main complex before we tackle the ”outer circle” on Saturday – possibly by bike rather than tuk-tuk if we can summon the motivation.
…and to think that we left Brisbane because of the heat!!!
After enduring 36Â° in KL yesterday we have sweltered through something similar today in Siem Reap. Have found a quaint little guesthouse in the old part of town. After a cold shower (which made no difference to my temperature) and with a couple of ice cold Angkor beers under our belt we ventured out to to the famed Wat for sunset.
For once I wasn’t disappointed with a hyped up tourist attraction. It is truly an awe inspiring place. There is a definite power which comes from a combination of the appearance of the stone, the setting, and the sense of scale and balance in the design.
We have a three day pass for the area and a tuk-tuk driver lined up so will be exploring the rest of the Angkor complex as well as revisiting Angkor Wat provided we can get up early enough to beat the heat.
kulala lumpur went quickly but was a great re-introduction into Asia. We didn’t do too much – just tried to absorb some of the colour and energy of the city. Tried some street food – to see what real kuey teow was like – verdict: very good, shared a smelly durian – verdict… so so, visited the Petronas Towers and their associated mega-mall and rode the monorail from one end to the other and back. After a torrential downpour we had dinner with friends from uni on wednesday night – great to catch up and reminisce.
Getting to the airport involved minor drama – set our alarm clock but… (for future reference travellers) the alarm clock on a mobile doesn’t work without a valid sim card!! Luckily chhay woke up – at the time we were supposed to be leaving! Suffice to say that it was quite a smelly trip over to Cambodia – & nobody wanted to sit next to me 🙁 – no allocated seating on AirAsia.
20 minutes till I leave for the airport. Finally got all our stuff sorted (we most of it anyway) – although there hasn’t been too much sleep in the last couple of days > at least I should crash on the plane.
Next update will be coming at you from somewhere deep inside Kuala Lumpur – perhaps from the top of the Petronas Towers??? It should be an interesting 2 days – I know nothing about the city or it’s ‘attractions’ (save for previously mentioned towers) a situation that I find can be a catalyst for some enjoyable exploration.
Have just spent an hour or so downloading travel guides for our trip from travelfish. Can’t be long before paper guidebooks are obsolete. For anyone considering heading to SE Asia it is an excellent resource – will let you know whether it accurate once we get there I suppose 😉
Great to be back in sleepy ol’ Adelaide. Everything moves at a very pleasant pace here – and everyone is so polite – I’ve had to polish up my Brisvegan idiom. Everyone ambles along at just under the speed limit – it is quite a change to not get out of a car drenched in sweat and feeling like you’ve just lost a year of you life! That being said there is a definite lack of energy in the city, and the flatness and lack of density can be unnerving. Roads go on forever without change and there seems to be no horizon just more low set suburbia, more views of your neighbour’s fence.
The food is still excellent, though perhaps not as cheap as we remembered. Had lunch at a delightful little place on Unley Road today whose name escapes me – a fantastic courtyard space and pleasant food. Followed this up with dinner at the Spice Kitchen – amazing combinations of spices (as to be expected from their name I suppose). We haven’t been back to Ying-chow’s yet to compare it to Brisbane’s Asian House – perhaps tomorrow.
We are still tidying up some loose ends before we leave – it seems that every time I cross something off I remember another task to do! I’m not sure if we’ll get down to the land before we go – I would love to have some time down there to really chill out (quite literally at this time of year I think) but it is looking increasingly unlikely.
There are some interesting new developments springing up around the city – a lot of very good medium density stuff and a few interesting apartment buildings. It is disappointing to see the commercial buildings that have been completed – they feel like lost opportunities, much like most commercial development in the city since the 70’s.
Final thought for the day is this post on worldchanging it is definitely worth a read – although I will have to lower my head in shame as we board the plane on tuesday 🙁
Farewelled brisvegas in style last night – moreton bay bugs on the barbie while watching the valley go by. Last few days have been a bit of a nightmare trying to get everything finished. Word for the wise – its worth every cent paying for a end-of-lease cleaner rather than doing it yourself!
We have vowed to not accumulate stuff wherever we next land – but as all the recent arrivals in my office will note – that is very good in theory and much less easy in reality.
We are back in a very brisk Adelaide now (a good practice run for things to come I suppose) and hanging out at home before catching up with the locals.
Having lost our fridge to the removalist on Monday various friends have been very generous in providing us with a feed these past two nights. The meals have been fantastic, this leaving thing isn’t so bad really, a shame we have to go so soon. Must remember to be fridgeless for longer next time we move.
I’m shocked how long this vacating of our premises is taking, it doesn’t help that all this “stuff” keeps appearing from who-knows-where. Half of what we owned can now be found at the Salvos but we keep finding more “stuff”. We are almost there though. Three and a half years of dust have been wiped clean today. Though I must say tonight’s cleaning was made easier after a few glasses of wine and, mostly for Tim, winning a round of Trivial Pursuit. We stopped cleaning just after 2am.
We found time to do the census in between cleaning and Trivia. Sadly we couldn’t distort the census with our homelessness and unemployment. Tomorrow will be a busy day, we’re off to Toowoomba to see Grandma Gwen for afternoon tea. Here’s hoping Tim escapes the grilling about not planning to be back in Brisbane anytime soon.
Last day of work for who knows how long tommorrow!!! Things are definitely getting closer now. Farewell drinks on sunday at the alibi room should be fun – especially having spent the afternoon barefoot bowling and revelling in beer at 1970’s prices.