I had opted for a $2 a night hostel- Swimming pool included! Oasis Siem Reap.
My first day in Cambodia was spent relaxing and getting over my 12 hour ordeal of travel from Thailand by coach. The sun was out, a bit patchy in some places but the sun was shinning, therefore, the pool was calling!
Everybody that goes to Siem Reap, goes to see the temples. Angkor Wat being the most famous. But not to forget the countless other ruins and not to mention the temples that were used in the Tomb Raider films starring Angelina Jolie. The day I decided to go to visit Angkor Wat and explore its ruins, it decided to rain (all day). I wasn’t going to let this defeat me or make me change my plans as after all, I had decided to start my travels smack bang in the middle of the wet season- so what could I expect! I decided that the rain today was going to be a good thing. I could get some different photo’s from the generic ‘front view’ against a clear blue skyline.
The temples themselves are Siem Reaps major tourist destination and therefore they understandably come at a cost. You can buy a one day ticket for $37, a three day ticket for $62, or a seven day ticket for $72. (Since August this year, the ticket office also takes debit/credit card which was handy to keep the cash in my wallet) I opted for the three day ticket because after visiting so many temples at once in Thailand, I knew the dreaded feeling of being “all templed out” would hit at some point during the day… and the rest would just blur into one. I wanted to explore, take my time and really feel the essence of each of the different places.
As previously mentioned, Angkor Wat, being by far the biggest, was for day one. The rest of the temples I actually did manage to squeeze into the second day, with no need for a third. That being said, I could have easily stretched it out had I wished.
The temples were not what I was expecting at all. In my head I was expecting the gold and white buildings of Thailand with their painted dragons at the entrance, shoes left outside as a sign or respect and silence in the chambers. What I got was the amazing stone ruins in the middle of forest areas and a chance to explore whilst getting down and dirty in the mud. I was in my element- Thank God (Buddha), I decided not to wear flip-flops!
Day 2 started with a 7am pick up. I could have had an earlier start in order to see the amazing sunrise over the top of Angkor Wat. After looking at the weather forecast and realising it was going to be overcast at that time, I decided on a few extra hours of sleep instead. I headed off and explored Bayon, Banteay Srei, Preah Khan, Phnom Bakheng, Banteay Samré, Thommanon,
Phimeanakas, Phnom Krom, Baksei Chamkrong and West Mebon.
My tuc-tuc driver for the day (known on facebook as Yuth BestBoy) was an amazing help. The tuc-tuc to myself for the entire day set me back $15 which I thought was pretty reasonable considering I was driven around all day long. The knowledge that the local guys have is so in-depth. You Don’t only hear about the temples and their history, but also about all the local goings on and excitement the areas bring to the people. I decided to give this guy $20 instead of $15. He had thanked me so much for giving him a job that day because he was sat waiting around for some work. It really puts life into perspective when someone thanks you so much for giving them work (well it did for me anyway). His enthusiasm and knowledge was just great! He also told me he was really trying hard to better his English, which was great for chatting away. I highly recommend this guy as your personal driver for the day if you can find him. He was sat outside my Hostel, Oasis Siem Reap!
The temples I visited on the second day were each a wonder in themselves. The natural stone walls were crumbling, letting you see into the grey and black stone whilst fresh vibrant green moss grew new life around them. I loved the idea of these ruins creating areas of new life for plants and agriculture… It gave them new purpose and I liked that.