On the 6th of January I had a morning flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap. I had planned to go to one of the islands in the south of Thailand but the weather turned bad and it made me change plans. Instead I booked a flight to Seam Reap as it was anyway on my itinerary for my trip. Now I regret already booking a return ticket because I wouldn’t have minded staying a couple more days.
So, Cambodia, we are back at driving on the right hand site of the road (Thailand was left) and the currency changes to US dollars (baht in Thailand) but small change, i.e. less than a dollar, will be handed back in Cambodian riel. In no time I have four currencies with me (euros still as well).
A tuk tuk is still the main form of transport for tourists and motorcycles for the people living here. While I’m sitting in my own tuk tuk that is basically a carriage being pulled by a moto I see entire families of up to 6 people sitting on one moto and it also includes their bags. The difference is there.
The purpose of my visit is to see the temples of Angkor. This 12th century temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world. My Lonely Planet says this:
Angkor is one of the world’s foremost ancient sites, with the epic proportions of the Great Wall of China, the detail and intricacy of the Taj Mahal, and the symbolism and symmetry of the pyramids, all rolled into one.
This has to be on your itinerary if you travel in or near Cambodia!
I bought a 3-day pass for 40 dollars and the first day I visit only the main temple Angkor Wat. I am on my own and can therefore decide my own pace. Seeing Angkor Wat is unbelievable, its beauty is magnificent and it is unlike anything I have ever seen. The only downside to this temple is the amount of people visiting. The temple is enormous and this is only the first of the 10 temples in total I will visit in the next days.
Anyone who has ever visited Scheveningen, especially Mirke, might know that seagulls can attack when you are eating a sandwich. Apparently monkeys at Angkor do the same thing but than with fruit. I was walking with a plastic bag with pineapple when I noticed that I had drawn attention from some monkeys, but no alarms just jet. I at least thought they would wait for me to finish. Then I felt this little childish hand grabbing my pants, except this was not a child but a monkey. It came out of no where and my movement scared away the monkey. But he was ready to go again, so before he had the change I threw my fruit on the ground and disposed of the plastic bag. Only moments later I saw another tourist who had an even more aggressive one, a monkey came from behind climbed via his leg up to his back and shoulder and grabbed the fruit he was having. Lesson learned for the next time. Do not bring fruit close to the monkeys! (and know I now why one says ‘brutale aap’)
The next morning I came back with a small group to do the small tour plus sunrise. We left the hostel at 4:30 am to pick a good spot but of course we are not the only ones there. Hundreds of people are standing with us at the ‘sweet spot’ for the sunrise were you can see the reflection in the lake. Unfortunately it is a clouded morning and we are not treated with a red morning sky but it is still amazing.
After Angkor Wat we visit five other temples. Unlike the main temple nature has had its way with these ones and there are a lot of temples with trees grown right through them. Unfortunately I cannot use my camera pictures until I am back in the Netherlands, so for now the ones with my iPhone.
It is no surprise this is a UNESCO world heritage site.
On the third day I do the grand tour with four temples and a sunset. We are out of luck again as it starts raining while we are at the third temple. But because of this we are treated with a double rainbow.
When I was not visiting the temples I was strolling on the markets. No matter which country I am in, I always love markets. There is a night market right next to the hostel but almost all stalls have the same products. And as a tourist you always have the seller standing right next to you. “Lady, lady, special pryy for you, first customer I can do discount, good luck for my son”. Discussing prices is something I am getting better at, but I’m sure I am still paying too much.
And then there was the old market with far more local people. Here they sell just about anything and everything. An aisle with fresh meat and fish being prepared on the spot, lots of fruit and veggies and right next to this could be shoes again. There were hairdressers washings customers hairs in for European standards unnatural positions (lying on a wooden bench on crates with her head above a bucket while being rinsed with water).
A fresh smoothie a day is becoming a standard and right outside my hostel I could even get delicious pancakes. This makes me very happy.
My hostel (Onderz) was okay, I met some nice people and there was a rooftop swimming pool. And I brought my first laundry to a station. It goes by the kilo: 1 kilo is 0,75$ and it’s ready within half a day.
Now I’ll be traveling to Phuket, after Angelina Jolie I might now follow James Bond to Khao Phing Kan or Leonardo DiCaprio to “The Beach” Phi Phi island.