After Phnom Penh we traveled north to Siem Reap, possibly the most touristy part of the country due to the World Hertiage Site, Angkor Wat. But with 50 cent beers, $3 dinners and massages starting from $1, who can blame them??
We arrived and went to our hostel we had pre booked, called Tom and Jerrys, it cost us $8 with breakfast and is the nicest, cleanest and newest hostel we have stayed in. The rooms are massive and even has a flat screen TV! After the standards in Phnom Penh, we were blown away by our bargain here!
We organised with our tuk tuk driver who dropped us off about going to Angkor Wat, he would pick us up at 5am to get there for sunrise. The staff at the hostel were not too impressed as we did not go through them, but who were we to know. We spent a day exploring the town/city on bike of which there is not too much to see, as soon as you leave the touristy part it turns to dusty badly paved roads with not a lot of sights. So we opted for a Snow Yoghurt instead, mainly due to the air con it offered inside; cycling in 35 degree heats is no joke!
4.30am and our alarm went off after another night of sleeping in sticky heat. We were greeted downstairs by about 3 other groups doing just what we were, so it was nice not to feel so alone at that time in the morning. Our tuk tuk driver came over, who was not who we met the day before but had been sent instead and introduced himself as Sok. He seemed nice and friendly enough. So off we went. The chill air in the morning whilst riding in the tuk tuk was heaven. I have never enjoyed feeling cold so much before! We stopped off at the ticket booth and went to get our pictures taken to go on the ticket and pay our $40. Adam looks in the wallet….”oh s*!t…It’s not in here, the extra money isn’t here…ummm can we pay by card…no?…s*!t…” so we walk back over to Sok and asked where the nearest ATM was, turns out it is back in town and means we would miss sunrise. “Are you short of money?” he asks and we explain, “it’s OK. I have and you can give me back at the end! How much do you need?” he asks simply. “Really?? That would be great, we only need $10 extra. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!” we enthuse. What a gem!
After our little mishap, Sok drives us over to Angkor Wat where everyone watches the sunrise and we walked over in the dark, crossing a bridge we heard a guide say, “stay away from the edge, a Chinese tourist fell in the other day!” Woops!
So we stand, and we wait. And we get constantly bothered by touts selling coffee, breakfast, books, postcards, trousers, scarfs. You name it, they are trying to sell it to you. But at least we got to meet Justin Bieber, who it turns out sells coffee in Cambodia in his spare time and another girl called Lady GaGa. If they weren’t busy enough already.
Sunrise was OK. The clouds skewed the scenery a bit and we didn’t get to see the sun piercing the sky with brilliant colours. But it was still lovely all the same.
After that, we found Sok and he told us where we were going next and a bit of information on the temple and its surroundings. We got out, trudged around, took some photos, watched some Russian women properly posing against pagodas (very odd) and moved onto the next. We did this until we had completed the short circuit and seem some beautiful ruins and came across far too many touts lurking amongst the quieter ruins, especially child touts selling stuff we didn’t want. Which was a big shame.
We quickly popped to the war museum (where we had to lend another $10 from Sok!) and looked around there, unfortunately we couldn’t afford the free guides as it turns out they accept donations and when they found out we had none to donate, weren’t too bothered by us. I heard their tours were great too, so a bit annoyed by the situation, especially after paying so much for a ticket for a place which is quite run down. I am not too sure where our $10 went in this place.
After a 4.30 am start, we were back in bed by 11am and snoozing away! Oh the joys!
—Love to all—C Smith—