Almost templed out ... exploring outer Angkor regions

Angkor Travel Blog

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Markets on the way to Roluos Group

Waking up with a total of 10 hours of sleep over the last 3 nights and possibly a mean hangover (it's hard to differentiate between the effects of Angkor beer and sheer exhaustion) isn't the greatest backdrop to exploring the ancient wonders of Angkor.  Nonetheless, I got a "late" start, setting out at 8:30am with my boy, Hung. 

We first hit the Roluos Group located about 40 minutes by tuk tuk to the east of Siem Reap.  These temples felt much less hectic than the main area near Angkor Wat.  Lonely Planet also suggested checking out the tiny town of Roluos located nearby to get a feeling of "rural" Cambodia.

Dusty road to Lolei Temple of Roluos Group
  Hung was confused why I wanted to go there and explained with the extent of his English that there was nothing to be seen there.  I stuck my Lonely Planet under his nose and pointed to the appropriate paragraph and even though he couldn't read English, I think it had the desired effect. 

Ruluos is a one street town really and when I arrived, the Saturday market was going on with local produce, seafood, and random crap being sold from under makeshift tents.  The coolest thing was that unlike most of Siem Reap and the Angkor main area, no one was trying to make me buy their water or coconuts.  In fact, no one paid any attention to me, and there were no other tourists.  There was a family swimming and splashing around in the shockingly dirty river.  After 5 minutes of culture, I jumped back into the tuk tuk and Hung and I headed off.

Lolei Temple
  I like to think of myself as an extremely efficient traveler.

On the way up north to Banteay Srei, something went wrong with the tuk tuk and we stopped off at a randomly placed mechanic shop.  It was more like a shed with some tools but apparently could fix the esoteric clicking noise coming from one of the wheels.  I pulled up to the table in the adjacent restaurant/shed and ordered a brightly colored and very syrupy Fanta.  A mongrel dog lazed around near my legs while two women slurped up noodles on the same table.  A rooster pecked around near my feet and I briefly wondered whether I would catch avian flu from it.  I busted out a torn-out crossword--like the nerd that I am--and nearly fell asleep with the heat and mental exhaustion from trying to figure out 15 Down.

Lolei Temple

30 minutes later, all had apparently been solved and we were off again.  On the way back up through the main temple area, we got caught in a ridiculous dirt devil / sand storm.  I've never been in the middle of one before, but even though I covered up and was wearing a hat and facemask, I found sand in all non-clothed crevices of my body, including my ears and eyes.  Yuck.  Sometimes wearing zinc and thick sunscreen can be a real pain.

We made it to Banteay Srei after a butt-tenderizing, lung-clogging ride.  I'm not sure whether the sand/dust or vehicle exhaust was worse for me.  I marveled at the fact it was still so early in the day...I was dying for a nap.  So, I decided what better thing to do than eat some food.  Every time I saw fried noodles or soup noodles on the menu, I got really excited that it'd be regular Chinese egg noodles but all of Cambodia seems to use package saimin and not cook it all the way through.

Buddhist monk at Lolei Temple
  Very odd but scarily, very tasty as well.  We used to eat raw package saimin as snack in elementary school.  I somehow thought this food stall would be different, and sadly, it was the same type of package noodles dripping in oil.  After having wolfed down the greasy fake noodles, I decided to try to finish my crossword (to no avail) and almost passed out at the table except for the fact that the food stall was built on the flimsiest of wood and every time someone walked by, I thought the table (and myself) would fall through the floor.

I checked out Banteay Srei, which was a smaller but intricately carved set of temples with a reddish hue.  About 15 minutes later, I was walking back to the tuk tuk, particularly satisfied that I had bargained down a bottle of water from $1.

Bakong Temple
50 to $1.25.  In the greater picture, I probably should have just contributed my quarter to the Cambodian society but somehow the endless barrage of capitalism in the form of bottled water and postcards was wearing on me.

On the way back south to Siem Reap, I checked out Ta Som, a very secluded and quiet temple, and Pre Rup, a towering temple overlooking the Mekong plains.  I decided to mosey on over to the extremely popular and extremely crowded Phnom Bakheng for sunset.  On the way, I ran into Mike on his bike and we made plans to meet for dinner.  At Phnom Bakheng, everyone and their grandma (literally) were there, clamoring up a very steep temple to watch the sun set.  I was worried that one of the many elderly tourists would fall down and thought that this set-up would never fly in the US.

Nagas at Bakong Temple
  There would at least be some sort of disabled elevator and very strongly worded disclaimers.  Then again, nothing this old would exist in the US. 

After about 10 minutes, I was done with the hoards of people and headed back down the hill.  I found Hung kicking around a popular hybrid of a hackey sack and badminton shuttlecock (hott!) with a buddy.  He quickly jumped into the tuk tuk, very professional and ready to take me back home.  I was ready to get the sand out of my ears.

De-sanded and de-sweated, I met up with Mike for dinner at Temple Bar, which has nightly apsara dance performances upstairs.  Since I had missed the dance performance the night before, we decided to grab some dinner and some culture.  The dance performances were beautiful and most importantly, felt authentic.

Beautiful moat around Bakong Temple
  Completely knackered, I headed for bed shortly after culture time for my early morning flight back to Bangkok.  I would love to return to Cambodia again some day, with face mask in hand.  It is such a beautiful country in both its landscapes and people.

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Markets on the way to Roluos Group
Markets on the way to Roluos Group
Dusty road to Lolei Temple of Rolu…
Dusty road to Lolei Temple of Rol…
Lolei Temple
Lolei Temple
Lolei Temple
Lolei Temple
Buddhist monk at Lolei Temple
Buddhist monk at Lolei Temple
Bakong Temple
Bakong Temple
Nagas at Bakong Temple
Nagas at Bakong Temple
Beautiful moat around Bakong Temple
Beautiful moat around Bakong Temple
Bakong Temple entrance
Bakong Temple entrance
Iconic shot of Bakhong Temple
Iconic shot of Bakhong Temple
Elephant guardian
Elephant guardian
Bakong Temple
Bakong Temple
Terraces of Bakong Temple
Terraces of Bakong Temple
Roluos Town
Roluos Town
Roluos Town - markets
Roluos Town - markets
Roluos Town - markets
Roluos Town - markets
Roluos Town - markets
Roluos Town - markets
Roluos Town - markets / fish for s…
Roluos Town - markets / fish for …
Roluos Town - sign for responsible…
Roluos Town - sign for responsibl…
Roluos Town - street vendor
Roluos Town - street vendor
Roluos Town - family playing in ri…
Roluos Town - family playing in r…
Roluos Town - family playing in ri…
Roluos Town - family playing in r…
Hanging out at the mechanic shop w…
Hanging out at the mechanic shop …
On the road to Banteay Srei
On the road to Banteay Srei
On the road to Banteay Srei
On the road to Banteay Srei
Gas station on the road to Banteay…
Gas station on the road to Bantea…
Fill er up!
Fill 'er up!
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Intricate carvings of Banteay Srei
Intricate carvings of Banteay Srei
Intricate carvings of Banteay Srei
Intricate carvings of Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei
Ta Som
Ta Som
Ta Som
Ta Som
Iconic tree at east gate of Ta Som
Iconic tree at east gate of Ta Som
Pre Rup
Pre Rup
View from top of Pre Rup
View from top of Pre Rup
View from top of Pre Rup
View from top of Pre Rup
View of Mekong plains from Pre Rub
View of Mekong plains from Pre Rub
Pre Rup in late afternoon sun
Pre Rup in late afternoon sun
Craziness of Phnom Bakheng at suns…
Craziness of Phnom Bakheng at sun…
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng
Crazy hoards of people on temple
Crazy hoards of people on temple
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng
Super steep steps
Super steep steps
Hungs friend holding the hybrid h…
Hung's friend holding the hybrid …
Apsara dance performance at Temple…
Apsara dance performance at Templ…
Apsara dance performance at Temple…
Apsara dance performance at Templ…
Apsara dance performance at Temple…
Apsara dance performance at Templ…
Mike with dinner
Mike with dinner
Angkor
photo by: ulysses