Amazing Angkor Wat

Happy Guesthouse in Siem Reap created a very good first impression of Cambodia. It was easily the nicest place we’ve stayed since the first week in Bangkok and at US$11 per night for a twin ensuite room a good price too.

We hired a tuk-tuk and driver for the day and headed off to Angkor Wat. What an amazing place. Absolutely stunning. We did the “mini-circuit” route and I can’t decide which was the most impressive – Angkor or Bayon. Both appealed in different ways. It’s important to remember they lay unused for centuries and have undergone various restoration works since the early twentieth century.They’re amazing now, in their heyday they must have been even more phenomenal. If you think Stonehenge is an engineering marvel the temples here are masterpieces on a colossal scale. The clouds appeared by mid-afternoon so there was no nice sunset behind a temple for us.

All of the temples are surrounded by locals intent on parting the tourists from their dollars. Every time our tuk-tuk pulled up we were immediately surrounded by children and adults attempting to sell assorted tat. Every conversation went something like

“Hello Mister. You buy <insert tat here>? One dollar. Only one dollar.”

“No thanks”

“I give you good price, big discount.”

“No thanks”

“How much you give me? Very good <insert tat here>.”

“No thanks”

“You buy from me. Not many tourists today, I give you very good price. Two <tat> for one dollar.”

“No thanks”

All the time you’re walking towards the temple and they’re tagging along. After the first few times you just want to say “Oh sod off”. As you get closer to the temple and further from the road they lose interest and scurry back to harass the next arrivals.

On our second day we got up early to catch sunrise at Angkor. Despite leaving at 05:00 as recommended we missed the nicest pre-sunrise red sky but caught the actual sunrise. We went out to Banteay Srei and the landmine museum and then the biggest temples on the “grand-circuit” finishing at Phnom Bakheng for sunset. Nature again conspired against us, delivering the same horizon-hugging bank of cloud that has plagued my attempts at catching some nice sunset photos for the last week or so.

I visited a silk farm on the third day while Hannah went and saw the Rolous group of temples. I missed the free bus to the silk farm so cycled 16km each way. It was too hot in the afternoon to do anything but laze around at the guesthouse. In the evening Hannah succumbed to the temptations of the night markets and spent until her money ran out.

After three days in Siem Reap we’re on the move again, next stop Phnom Penh.

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