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Siem Reap and Angkor Wat (24th-25th May 2010)

June 3rd, 2010 by Jo Turner-Attwell

My trip begins in Cambodia and I have travelled through Laos with a group tour from GAP adventures and next I head to Vietnam and then Thailand. The journey to Siem Reap in Cambodia started well with us only being a few minutes late downstairs to leave Bangkok. All my clocks were a bit messed up as I seemed to have got the time difference wrong, but still we were ready on time.
Day twos activities were mainly driving and border checks, which involved a lot of writing made difficult with no pen, in epic heat. I did see the first of many geckos though which was pretty cool, wandering up walls and I did get to use my lovely lovely passport photos. I think my parents are in for a shock when I come home as I now really want a pet lizard and may just bring one back with me!
The bus journey though, despite taking around 6-8 hours altogether, wasn’t actually too bad. It passed waaaay quicker than I had expected. And when we arrived in Siem Reap we were extremely happy to see that the hotel had a pool!!
Anyway on a more interesting note, in the evening we headed out onto the biggest freshwater lake in south east asia, Tonle Sap. On the way we all had a bit of a culture shock. It was very different to anything I had ever seen before, the houses were only really huts and the poverty we saw there I think is the worst I have seen so far.
The boat trip on the lake itself was nice though. We went out to a restaurant floating on the lake, where the had aligators captured underneath! It was mad. As we were going along in the boat though children would jump on and try to sell us things for a dollar. This one boat came up with two boys on. One jumped on the boat but the other had a MASSIVE snake round his neck. Luckily at we arrived at the floating restaurant at exactly this moment and managed to jump off the boat just in time.
On the floating restaurant we could climb up some stairs and see a view of the sunset which was lovely. The sun set right over the floating houses which apparently belonged to people fleeing from Vietnam around the time of the Vietnam war, but they were not allowed to enter Cambodia. So they settled out on the Lake were they could fish and live. We even saw a school!!
We then all piled back on the boat and headed back under very beautiful skies. As we got off the boat a child took my hand and walked me up the short diagonal platform to get back to the bus. I tried to shake him off but he had a really firm grip!! Then as I reached the bus he asked for one dollar, and we were surrounded by other children chanting the same trying to sell us things. One woman had even snapped our pictures as we were getting on the boat and put them on to plates.
At the end of the day we went for a meal on pub street and I had my very first tuk tuk ride (a south east asian taxi, look it up).
The next day was far more full of typical tourists with cameras, we were still hassled though, one girl in particular had really really good english. We left for Angkor Wat insanely early to try and get there to see the sunrise, I think it may have been 5.00. Anyway both me and my roomate Sylvia managed to get our clocks wrong, even the room clock was wrong and woke up at 5.08 and in the rush downstairs I managed to forget both my camera and Patrick, mine and my friends travel bear. Disaster. Angkor Wat was amazing though. I’m not sure I can really find another word, it was just amazing. And because it was so early we saw dragon snakes in the water. We did a full day of temples and I did get chance to go get my camera at breakfast so I managed to get a picture of Patrick with the temple used in Tomb Raider. That was very cool, big trees were like embedded into the structure of the temple as during war times they weren’t preserved and were therefore damaged. Made for some good photos though. We saw a fair amount of temples. There was one I liked in particular with faces of Buddha everywhere withall the big ones having different expressions.
By the end of the day we were dying in the heat though, it was unbearable!! Never have I been so sweaty in my entire life. Not a pretty image but it’s true.
Our last temple of the day was at the top of a mountain where we could also watch the sunset, but before it could really start a storm started rolling in from the other side, so at one point we had a sunset on one side and massive fork lightening on the other. When it rained, after revelling in the feeling of actually being cold we climbed down the elephant track (supposedly easier as elephants carry people up on it though I am not convinced) and then went for dinner.
The first of a lot of very good days.

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