Helen and Randall on the road

A bit about our adventures 2011-2012

Thursday 15th – Saturday 17th December: Siem Reap

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Siem Reap is the jumping-off point for the famous Angkor temples including the astonishing Angkor Wat. We flew in from Da Nang to Siem Reap’s very modern airport, visa on arrival for $20, and free airport transfer to the hotel provided by Mr Be in his cool Cambodian-style tuk-tuk:

On arrival at the highly recommended Angkor Spirit Hotel we discovered that they were having issues with their booking system and were full, so we would have to spend the first of our three nights in a sister hotel, but we would have a tuk tuk and driver at our disposal. This sounded OK but turned out to be a bit rubbish as the ‘sister hotel’ wasn’t as nice, the wifi was broken and the air conditioning unit blew out a load of bugs that had obviously been nesting in it. Nice.

Still, Mr Be’s mate came to take us into town where we had dinner on ‘Pub Street’.  Siem Reap town, although it’s the administrative centre for the province, seems to be mainly a tourist town where everything is priced in dollars and there is the inevitable Irish Bar. It didn’t seem to have a lot to recommend it but at least we got dinner and a beer. Mr Be collected us from the crap hotel at 8 the next morning to take us back to our ‘real’ hotel for breakfast. It was very lovely, with a decent pool for doing lengths in and a good restaurant where we set ourselves up for the day and worked, enjoying the warmth after chilly Hoi An.

The next morning we were up super early for sunrise at Angkor Wat – 4.40am pickup by Mr Be and his tuk-tuk.

Approach to the main temple as the sun comes up.

Morning!

The incredible temples at Angkor

Inside Angkor Wat

This stone apsara has shiny boobs, possibly from being groped by passers-by.

Steep steps

Tank

The moat around Angkor Wat.

The approach to Angkor Thom

Me and Mr Be.

Breakfast

The Bayon, Angkor Thom. Look for the faces!

Randall climbing the walls

Hello!!

Randall doesn’t have the patience to wait on the stairs.

Terrace of the Elephants

More Elephants

The next day, against our better judgement, we were persuaded to take a trip to the floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake.

There is now no way to visit the lake and floating villages independently as there is controlled entry to the port/jetty/dock whatever and there is only one operator running tour boats for a fixed price per person. While the floating village lifestyle is pretty interesting (the houses etc get towed around depending on the season)  the whole boat tour is aimed at extracting dollars, for example there is a ‘shop’ selling water and noodles that you are requested to buy ‘for the school’ which sounds reasonable enough, but the ‘school’ is a joke, basically a piece of theatre for the tourists – certainly no teaching going on; we met some volunteers in our hotel who were working in *actual* schools in the villages and they said kids were always being pulled out of class to go and row themselves around the tourist boats in a mixing bowl/handle snakes at the croc farm/generally hang around looking cute for money. Sadly there seem to be plenty of tour groups who are into the whole ‘children as tourist attractions’ thing.

Our ‘private’ boat.

At least these days the inhabitants have modern communication: (3 month old mobile phone mast):

We were quite glad to finish the trip to be honest. Mr Be was waiting for us with his tuk tuk and drove us back to the hotel from where were were collected and taken to the bus to Phnom Penh.

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Written by helenbcn

December 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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