29.08.2009 - 01.09.2009 32 °C
Having caught a bus from Phnom Penh we arrived in Siem Reap at about 13.30 on Saturday. As all the buses to Siem Reap conveniently stop about 2km outside of town we caught a tuk tuk to Green Town guesthouse and arranged for the driver to take us to sunrise at Angkor Wat at 5.00 the next morning. We wandered around town a bit for the rest of the afternoon and I stayed up until 1.15 watching football, leaving me a little tired the following morning.
The next morning we met our tuk tuk driver and reached Angkor Wat at about 5.15 with it still dark and already very busy. If I had to describe the sunrise in one word I would say cloudy. As our driver had warned being the rainy season it was quite likely to be cloudy. It was still good though and there was a little sun. soon after it had got light all the tour groups left to go back for Siem Reap and went to explore the comparitively deserted temple. Quite a lot of the temple was roped off for restoration but it was still interesting and pretty massive. Then as we were walking back to our driver someone started talking to us and started showing us a few things around the wall and the edge of the temple. He was fairly good but typicaly then demanded money.
We then went with our driver to Angkor Thom, the last and biggest capitol of the Angkor era, we had breakfast and then vistited the Bayon temple which has hundreds of faces carved into it. It was good despite being completely full of Japanese tourists posing for photos. For the rest of the morning we decided to go on the Mini Circuit visiting Ta Keo, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei. They were all good andl had far smaller crowds than Angkor WAt and Bayon which was much better. Ta Keo was probably the best being almost deserted and the high temple giving good views.
At lunch time we arrived back in Siem REap and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing with there being literally nothing to do otherthan temples.
On the second day we decided to rent bicycles (or I decided and persuaded Alex it was better than doing tuk tuk again) and do the Grand Circuit. We rented bicycles from near our hotel and they seemed OK a little uncomfortable but fairly average by Asian standards. About 1.5km from the hotel my chain came off and whilst I was trying to put it on without covering my hands in oil a local woman came up and quickly put it back on. However, about 200m later my chain came off again. I fixed only for it to fall off again. The chain was too loose fo rthe bike so I had to push the bike back to get it changed. As we were now getting what seemed to be a mountain bike with gears I gave it to Alex and took his bike. Having gone about 4km to Angkor Wat Alex revealed, having biked there very very slowly, that his bike was rubbish and that he wanted to change. This left me to do 22km on a bike with an incredibly low sandle which I had to sit off the back off to avoid hitting my knees on the handlebars. Not incredibly comfortable and I was left feeling happy that Alex had noticed the bikes faults so soon that it was too mlate to go back and change.
Anyway we visited some ruins at the northern end of Angkor Thom and the large Preah Khan temple. Deciding to have some lunch we walked towards the group of cafes across the road and got a chorus from about 6 or 7 people of ' you come my restaurant sir' , 'I see you first' ect ect which made for quite an amusing video. In the afternoon we visited several more temples which although they weren't as vast as Angkor Watwere still impressive and very quiet. We made it back into down just before dark with me just about able to walk after all day on the rubbish bike.
For the third day we decided to hook up with our tuk tuk driver again and visit the far away temple of Banteay Srei which was a bit of a trek out of Siem Reap but had some really interesting carvings. After that we headed to the Roulos group away from the main temple area. This had some of the best temples we had seen and was also very quiet. Also on arriving at one temple before the tuk tuk had even stopped we had about six girls grabbing onto us trying to sell us drinks, unfortunately this time no video.
After spending a couple of hours back in Siem Reap we hired bikes again, from a different place, and headed to the hill top temple of Phnom Bakheng just south of Angkor Tom which gave a godd aerial view of Angkor Wat and the surrounding area and was definately worth the effort. We then headed back into Siem Reap and faced yet more bike problems, when with me ahead Alex's bike lost a pedal. I am sure his blog will give all the vivid detail but he basically ended up getting a lift back from a friendly motorbike driver with his bicycle on the motorbike as well.
He made it back to the hotel for our last night in Siem Reap before heading to Bangkok.