Siem Reap and Angkor 'Waaaaat'
|Siem Reap Night Market|
We stayed in a really good hostel with it's own restaurant and bar. It felt like more of a hotel than a hostel, those are by far the best kind ;). The only problem we had was an incident with an unwanted cockroach at 4am, which had landed on us while we were in bed...there was a lot of screaming, we probably woke up every other guest.
Our hostel arranged a tuk tuk to take us around Angkor Wat for 3 days, although we actually only used it for 2. You can buy a one day pass for $37 or a 3 day pass for $62 from the ticket office. After visiting, I think it probably is possible to fit all that you want to see into one day, as it is very easy to get "templed out". The main thing people go for is the sunrise over Angkor Wat, this is a great thing to see, although I wish I knew what it would have been like before going. Obviously, all the tourists go to this, so it is very very busy, which is taken full advantage of by the beggars there. You can't watch the sunrise in peace, 20 people need to check if you want to buy a painting or scarf. There are also a line of "cafes", so somebody from each one comes up to you to try a persuade you to come and have breakfast (as it is 5am) and that their prices are the better than all the others. Once you do sit down the food is 'meh' at best and of course, very overpriced. You sit trying to eat with MASSIVE chickens walking around (I hate chickens, it freaked me out so much) and sales people constantly repeating "Angkor Waaaaaat" to try attract the westerners who find it hilarious the first couple of times...it gets old real quick. If I were to go again, I would probably skip out the sunrise. But it does make for some lovely pictures if you pick the right spot
Now, I can't remember which temple is which, you see so many it is absolutely impossible. So, all the pictures are just going to go together. Apart from some very distinct ones such as: Bayon, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat itself, most of the temples look very similar.
We decided to do the inner (smaller) loop on day one and then on day two get up at 4am to get to Angkor Wat and do the outer (larger) loop.
There is lots of advice online about spending long days at Angkor Wat, my tips are:
- Take LOTS of water
- Wear a hat, seriously that's a lot of sun on your head
- Wear something thin and comfy. It's really hard for girls because we to be covered, long elephant pants or a long skirt are definitely the way to go because they are thin and I just wore a t-shirt on top (shoulders have to be covered), obviously I wasn't the best dressed there but comfort over fashion in these situations
- Take breaks if you need to, it's a lot of walking in the heat
- DON'T buy from the children sellers, you are not helping them if you do. It just encourages their parents to keep them out of school to do this instead
- There are wild monkeys around some of the temples, for your own safety and theirs, don't try and touch them, just leave them be and they will leave you be. Simples
- DON'T RIDE THE ELEPHANTS (I will find you and jump on your back with a backpack full of bricks if you do)
If you haven't read my previous post on why you should never ever never never ride an elephant then please click here for all the information on how these animals are treated by riding companies. It is NOT ok. After finding out everything I did about riding companies, seeing these poor elephants being ridden around left me balling my eyes out in the middle of the site and I felt sick knowing I had given money to this site when they allow this to happen. I'm not saying boycott Angkor Wat if it's something you really want to do, but just know that it goes on there and they try and sell it as taking care of the elephant and respecting it, but this just simply isn't true. An elephant called Sambo actually died there last year due to being overworked and dehydrated, you can read about her here . It can't continue.
Anyway, let's lighten the mood with the pictures:
My favourite temples were probably Bayon and Ta Phrom. Bayon's many faces were so amazing to see up close, and made for some awesome pictures. Ta Phrom is an ancient temple which has now been overrun by mother nature, trees have grown through the bricks and now sit on top of the walls, making it truly incredible to see.
Most people finish all the temples within 2 days, so on the third day go to one of the many things to do around the outside of the complex. However, we were completely pooped and decided not to return for a third day.
After Siem Reap we got tuk tuk (a crazy journey which included hitting a dog, who I still really really hope is ok) to the airport and flew to Phuket (our first Thai island ahhhhh!). So, from there it was so long Cambodia, a country I really hope to return to one day. Next up will be my posts all about the Thai islands we visited. I hope you will all enjoy.