Monday 24 December 2012

Temples Galore in Siem Reap

After several different buses from our homestay in Isan, we ended up crossing the border in Cambodia. If you get a bus to the Aranhaprathet border crossing rather than training from Bangkok, the bus drops you off right there. In amongst the throngs of tourists, is an even more impressive large market, with hundreds of stalls. Point to note, change your money here as over the border the exchange rates are really bad. Getting through the border crossing surprising didn't take too long on the Thailand side of things, however, entering Cambodia was long, hot, and even longer. If you do have the spare cash the "rip off artists" as we thought with the VIP line, is actually a real thing and if you pay the stupid price (that is 300% cheaper for locals) you can cut the immigration line.

Once you get through that madness you are further ripped off to get to Siem Reap. We found another couple to share a taxi with for and extra $3 USD per person and shaved off an hour of travel. Checked into our guesthouse for the night and found a nice local restaurant to eat at.

Us with Angkor Thom main temple

The next day we checked out and headed off for our first day of adventures exploring the wonders of the Khmer period in Asia. We started off with the main areas of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom complexes that everyone visits when they come here, and are therefore quite crowded. The lesser well known sections of Angkor Thom we found to be most interseting, like the Baphuon with its massive reclining Buddha made from stone, or the leppers or elephants wall that are part of the procession leading to the main temple of Angkor Thom. After all this we headed out to stay at a smaller village bordering Siem Reap, where we taught an English lesson at the school of our host. After that we got to experience what life is really like for Cambodians. Our night was capped off falling asleep listening to roosters, dogs barking and fireflys dancing around the open air room.

Reclining Buddha

Ta Prhom or the hidden or tomb raiders temple was amazing, with the trees overgrowing the ruins. But this was actually overshawdowed the next day when we went to the lesser known Beng Mealea. This temple is quite far from Siem Reap, but the hour tuk tuk ride though the countryside on the way is actually just as interesting. Real Camobida village life was fantastic. At Beng Mealea, we were met only with Asian origin tourists and as this place is not as visited you are able to crawl and touch absolutely over everything. This temple complex is also in extreme disrepair but that actually adds to its charm. This is a much do place.

Crumbling Beng Mealea

Our final day in Siem Reap, we explored the lessen known surrouding temples. The good thing with this is that you can relax as there is barely anyone around and you can stroll through these places enjoying the scenery and taking shade as needed. Had a enjoyable last night in Siem Reap before the horror of our trek to Phnom Penh began.

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