Angkor Temples

25 05 2010

We arrived in Siem Reap around 12.30pm and walked to ‘Shadow of Angkor’, our guesthouse. We had lunch at the Singing Tree Cafe in The Alley. We had fresh spring rolls, Amok curry with brown rice and a lotus seed brown rice salad. The Singing Tree supports environmental charity groups with their profits.

In the afternoon we planned out our temple visiting itinerary and organised a tuk tuk driver through the guesthouse.

Dinner was at Chamkar, a vegetarian restaurant in The Passage.

Day 1 at Angkor we fortunately escaped most of the crowds. We left town at 7am in our tuk tuk and did the little circuit – South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon with the many faces, Baphuon covered in scaffolding, Terrace of the Elephants, Phmeanakas with steep stairs accessible from one side only and the Terrace of the Leper King. Out past the Victory Gate we visited Chau Say Thevoda andd Thommamon, then climbed up the scary steep steps to the top of Ta Keo. We ate lunch at a restaurant near Angkor Wat. On to our favourite temple, the overrun-with-nature Ta Prohm then Banteay Kdei before finishing with Angkor Wat. We waited for sunset but it was too cloudy so we went back to town for dinner at Little India-bargain thali for $3 a plate.

Day 2 we were up early and left at 5am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat.Still quite cloudy, it was overrated.Then we did the big circuit and visited Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som with more giant trees, East Mebon and Pre Rup. We came back to town and had lunch at the Singing Tree again. After sleeping for a few hours we went back to Phnom Bakheng and enjoyed the tourist trap that is sunset from the top of the temple. We met some Japanese girls there and arranged to meet them for dinner sometime. We had dinner at Indian Gate where the sign out the front said the best food in Siem Reap. It wasn’t, but that’s ok.

Day 3 we returned to Angkor Wat at 5am for another go at a sunrise. Yesterday was better, but there were less people this morning. From there we travelled about 90 minutes out to Banteay Srey, the citadel of the women with intricate carvings. On the way back we stopped at Banteay Samre. We had lunch at Peace Cafe, slept for a few hours and woke up in time to meet our driver at 3pm to go visit the Roluos Group of Lolei, Preah Ko and Bakong. We had dinner at Maharaja with the two Japanese girls who got harassed for tuk tuks in Japanese worse than we did in English. Then we had some juices at the Island Bar in the middle of the night market.

After exhausting ourselves with 3 days of temple hopping, we had a sleep in and an early lunch at Chamkar followed by a rest day before our bus back to Phnom Penh tomorrow.

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Day 2 and 3 Angkor Photos

25 05 2010




Welcome to Cambodia

20 05 2010

We took a bus from Saigon at around 6am and arrived in Phnom Penh around 12.30pm. The border crossing was relatively easy since the tour company collected all our passports and organised the exit and entry while we waited and walked from point to point.

We took a tuk tuk to our chosen guesthouse then walked out to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch. The servings were small and every dish on the menu was noodles with mushroom – I think we may have received the foreigner treatment of getting a worse dish than the locals, but for 8000 riel it wasn’t worth contesting.

We were already half way to the Silver Pagoda so we continued on to the opulent palace with golden roofs and strict entry requirements (no hats, scarves or short shorts).

Bargained a tuk tuk down to $1 and returned to the guest house where Benno rested his sunburned skin under the air con.

Dinner was at a Chinese vegetarian restaurant that we had to walk many blocks down to number 699A. We ate franch fries, cauliflower with green beans and tofu with basil and ginger for a total of “ten five thousand” (15,000 r, about $4).

Took a motor back to the guesthouse, as it was now much too dark to want to walk back along the streets.

Day 2 we walked up to Paradise Hotel and met some HK Lutherans and drove out to Kg Chhnang where a mission is. The village has around 600 families which includes around 2000 or more children. The families all farm the land around the village during the 6 month wet season. There is only one planting a year. They must grow enough to store for the 6 month dry season when they cannot farm because they have no water or irrigation. When they are not farming, they weave baskets which they take to the Thai border and sell to the Thai people as they get a better price than selling them to other Cambodians.

The mission centre in the village runs a feeding program for children at 11.30am, after school finishes, then they have English lessons in the afternoon. They hold 3 services on Sundays and have Sunday school.There is only electricity in the night time so they must use a generator if they want electricity for fans, lights or computers during the day.

Families live on 30x30m blocks of land that cost about $3000. An oxen to help in the fields costs $300, and the monthly salary of a doctor is $200.

We had Indian for dinner once we arrived back in the capital around 7pm. The hostel almost lost our key and it took them ages to find it. They are not very helpful.

The next day we took a tuk tuk to S-21, the school converted into a prison during the Pol Pot regime. We watched a lame video for 1 hour that explained very little and just read out love letters written between a particular man and his wife who were separated for many years and ended up being killed. We saw some of the HK Lutherans from yesterday, bats, cells, gallows, interrogation rooms, read lots of stories and were perplexed by the quotes in English under Cambodians who worked in the S-21 prison who mostly said they had no regrets about working there.

Lunch was across the road at the Boddhi Tree where we had Cambodian tofu and coconut curry and stir-fry veg with ginger.

In the hot afternoon we went to the Killing Fields where we saw large mass graves, bleached bones and were annoyed by gangs of begging children.

We had dinner at Friends, an expensive restaurant that trains former street children in hospitality. We ate spring rolls, tofu stirfry and crispy noodle salad.

The next morning we caught a 6.15am bus to Siem Reap.