Temples of Angkor
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 2 of 16 › view all entries
Siem Reap, Temples of Angkor
Another early start to our day and we woke up not sweaty! And no mosquito bites to boot! No shower needed because one thing I've noticed is that the water here smells strongly like iron. Consequently, I try to keep showering at a minimum. I've also stopped wearing deodarant because I don't see the point. And oddly enough, I don't smell. Or at least Regina has the grace not to mention that I do.
Our tuk tuk driver picked up promplty at 8. Actually he was earl, probably because he was afraid we'd visit the temples with someone else. The driver is the same guy who gave us a "free" ride yesterday from the Ivy to the Ivy 2 (our guesthouse) conditional upon the fact that he could take us to the temples today. His asking price ws $10 so we agreed. If there's one thing we've learned about Cambodia is that bargaining is king! As soon as we cross the street here, little children run after us and people call from across the way: "Hey lady, you want to buy water, want to buy t-shirt of Ankgor Watt, etc..." I haven't been to a country in a while where everywhere I go people only see dollar signs. Literally dollar signs. Dollars are better here than Riels (Cabodian currency) especially for larger purposes. Although small denominatins of Riel are better for haggling for coconuts on the street that you can drink from a straw and then they whack open so you can eat the flesh inside. I have to say though that so far all the coconuts we've had have not been very sweet and the flesh is too young I think.
We started off the morning at Food Stall 27 in the complex of Angkor Thom where the owners were obviously friends of our driver. We really didn't mind but I've decided that Cambodia food is somewhat similar to Thai but not as good. Granted we are in a tourist hotspot, where originiality is few and far between with every stall selling the same trinkets. English is king here. This little girl asked us where we were from when we were eating at the temples. USA we answered. "What state you come from?" "California." Ïf I tell you the capitol of your state, will you buy book from me?" Blackhearts that we are, we answered no. But so far the most enterprising little girl I've met. Every little kid we meet knows how to say everything in dollars.
Our driver whose name we did not regrettably catch, dropped us off near Bayon and we poked around where I immediately received a mosquito bite the size of a quarter on my back. Regina, being the good friend that she is, sprayed some DEET for me, and I've appeared to escaped unscathed from more bites as of 17:31. Granted, dusk has not come upon us, so I'll update you with the mosquito count tomorrow. It's a good thing Regina is here to remind me to take Malarone. What would I do without her? Probably contract malaria. But I digress. So Bayon is at the center of Angkor Thom and has large carved faces that cover the side of its 54 towers. You can see the profile of Buddha on several of them and inside several of the towers are female monks with incense asking for donations. "Hey lady!"
From Bayon we were supposed to walk through this "forest" to the Terrace of the Leper King but we took a wrong turn and ended up running through this "path" full of fire ants. I did apologize though for leading us off the beaten path. After a few nips on the ankle, we made it to Baphuon, another temple being worked on. Apparently every reconstruction group here belongs to another nationality than Cambodian. My guidebook said restoration should be completed by 2004. Right, so it's 2006 and it didn't look like they were complete. We then walked back to Stall 27 where our driver was chilling with his homies and he exclaimed "Done already?! Did you see the Terrace of the Leper King and Terrace of the Elephants?" Oops. We didn't realize there was more. But he was nice enough to drive us to the bathroom where I waited for Regina and he asked me where we from. I told him USA, but he was somewhat incredulous. He thought we were from Japan and then pointed to my skin saying it was a nice color, lighten than Cambodians. I didn't have the heart to tell him in 3 weeks I'd probably be as brown as him. We then got dropped back off at the Terraces, walked around a bit and got some more coconuts.
Our next stop was Ta Keo where we climbed some incredibly steep steps. We descended looking none the worse for wear except for the sweat dripping down our faces. Next stop ws Ta Prohm which apparently is the temple used for filiming Lara Croft's Tomb Raider. Or so some random Cambodian guy told us. Ta Phrom is amazing!! It hasn't been restored like other temples and there are tree roots that are growing around the stones everywhere and appear petrified to the point that they like stone.
Last stop of the day was Angkor Wat, which is absolutely enormous. Unfortunately the Gallery of Bas Reliefs was closed off, but we wandered into the entrance gate and proceeded to scramble up the front of the top temple while a 60yr old Japanese lady looked on with mouth agape. Apparenly climbing from the back of the temple is preffered method to ascend. We were huffing and puffing but then we saw a group of Japanese retirees scrambling up and felt a little embarassed. We wandered around for the next hour taking in the sheer grandeur.