Travel to Siem Reap and the sunset at Angkor Archaeological Park
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 55 of 62 › view all entries
February 13th, 2010 – by: sshaunaa
The visa on arrival process is pretty painless. I was through immigration and had my bags within 15 minutes of touching down. I had arranged to be picked up at the airport through my guesthouse to save on the hassle of getting a driver once I left the airport (and it was free through the guesthouse). My driver was waiting for me and a minute later I was on his remork on the way to Siem Reap Rooms Guesthouse. A remork is basically a motorbike with a chariot-looking thing attached to the back. It's covered (well appreciated in this heat!) and more comfortable than I was expecting.
Similar to the rest of SE Asia, many more people than the "Recommended" number are able to fit on a motorbike. From what I can tell, the way a family of four gets around is to have the largest child (say 5 years old) stand between the dad and the steering wheel, then the dad, then the smallest child, then the mom.
It was very hot in the afternoon so while walking around near my guesthouse, I stopped and sat in the shade on a patch of grass. This happened to be next to a busy intersection that had neither traffic lights nor stop signs. Drivers just make it up as they go and somehow there were no accidents and very little honking. Don't even get me started about roundabouts.
For being a city with more than a million visitors a year, I was expecting Siem Reap to be a bit more metropolitan. There are several luxurious-looking hotels scattered throughout the city and "Pub Street", a short street lined with restaurants for foreigners, but a lot of the town looks run down and dirty.
I decided that I'd see as much as I can of the park in one day. If you buy a one day pass, you can purchase it after 5pm the day before and go in to see the sunset. I figured I might as well and hired a driver to take me there and back for US$5. I had originally planned to cycle to the park and back but it was too hot. Seeing how cheap hiring a driver is, it makes a lot of sense. Especially when I saw people cycling back into town in the dark after the sunset.
There are a couple places popular with sunset viewing. The driver gave me some options and I chose to go to the temple on a hill. I thought this meant I'd be able to see Angkor Wat from a hill, which I was able, but from about 1.5 km away. Instead, the sunset from Phnom Bakheng looks in the opposite direction, with the sun setting off in the distance over the countryside. It was ok, but after seeing the sun setting over the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, I was not overly impressed. There were sooooo many people there and the mass exodus after the sun set took forever. The steps leading to the top of the temple are very narrow and steep so it takes a long time for the hordes to make their way down.
I've bought some snacks and plenty of water for my full day of temple hopping tomorrow, starting with the sunrise at 6am!
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