63 – Siem Reap – Angkor Wat (Chapter 1)

October 25 to October 27

Bus transfer to Siem Reap takes about half a day, across interminable rice fields. The rainy season has just ended, making everything so unbelievably green. Unfortunately, garbage is literally everywhere, mountains of plastic bottles, bags, cans, debris of all sorts. It’s true that the locals aren’t too bothered about waste management in the first place, they don’t understand that throwing and empty Coca-Cola bottle into the river is not entirely OK, but also even if they wanted to do something sensible about the garbage, no one would come to collect it. The situation is very much similar in many asian countries, the west gave them all the disposable packaging materials, but they have no means of disposing of the disposed of.

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typical cambodian landscape

A day-long trip to Siem Reap on the river is a possibility, if you’re not too bothered about safety of the ferries (although I personally think that given the way they drive in Asia, you are statistically safer on the ship than in a bus), but more importantly you are forced to choose between the artificial Antarctica inside the cabin and incandescent inferno (and subsequent sunburn) on the deck. So maybe a bus is a better choice. Siem Reap is a mirage in Cambodian reality. Home to the country’s biggest attraction, the town has good tourist structures, hotels, restaurants and clubs to cater for any budget and craving for comfort, but more importantly it’s clean, safe and there are pavements on the streets.

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Angkor Wat and the adjacent temple complex is the reason why most people travel to Cambodia. It’s beautiful, breathtaking and immense. Do not try to see it all in one day, you’ll cause yourself a Khmer strain of Stendhal syndrome and by the third temple you will not care anymore, which is a pity, because if you take it slowly, wandering through the jungle and discovering ruins is great fun. My advice is to buy a triple-entry ticket usable within 10 days ($64 in October 2017 available only in the main ticket office – as in, your hotel cannot book it on your behalf – but both price and place are likely to change, this is Asia after all), and alternate sightseeing with relax (all hotels, even the cheapest ones, have swimming pools). Also, do all your sightseeing as early in the morning as you can. The heat gets unbearable by 11am and the temples get crowded. I recommend taking a tuk-tuk to ride between the temples, it’s refreshing when the temperature hits 40°C.

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Nathan, Robin, Olga, ma and Fanny

What follows is a collection of rather bad and boring photos, I didn’t have the luxury to wait around for the perfect light, and let’s face it, I probably would not recognize the good light anyway. But purely as documentation, without any artistic pretension, the photos may have some value.

Day 1 – what they call a “small tour” takes you around the highlights of the temple complex, Angkor Wat, the Royal Palace, the Face Temple and the Tree Temple, and few others minor sites. Believe me, small or not, it’s pretty exhausting.

Angkor Wat

Prasat Bayon (Face Temple)

Angkor Thom (Royal Palace)

Ta Prohm (Tree Temple)

Other minor temples


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