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Winter Vacation - Siem Reap, Cambodia 2007/01/03

A templing we will go


View Winter Vacation 2006 on agc_cwm's travel map.

Vut (our tuk-tuk driver) picked us up at 5am, as promised, to go up to the temples for sunrise. We got passed by every other tuk-tuk and tour bus (of which there were many) on our way there. Better a safe, slow driver, we figured, and as long as we made it there before the sun rose, we didn't care how fast we were going. We stopped at the gate to buy our tickets; everyone else seemed to be in a huge hurry. We assumed that, since the temples had been there for hundreds of years already, they weren't going to move in the time it took us to get a ticket, so we just relaxed and let everyone else panic. For a map of the temples sites, click here.

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After we got our tickets, we asked Vut where everyone tends to go for sunrise. He told us Angkor Wat temple. We said "OK, let's not go there. Where else is good?" He laughed pretty hard at this, and then told us about another place where you could see the sun rise over a lake, at Sras Srang. It was pretty quiet and there weren't many people. However, the first person we met was a little kid who said "Would you like to buy a coffee? Books?" Then we met three more kids with the same questions. We watched the sunrise, which was obscured by some clouds. But, still very beautiful.

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Andrew then decided he needed a coffee, so he ordered one from one of the kids. After this, he was swarmed by children selling scarves and postcards. Needless to say, he bought some postcards and a scarf while I was off picking out a pair or pants. The children who we didn't buy from would get really disappointed/angry, asking "Why not more? What about me?" which totally rips your heart out and stomps on it. After Andrew finished his coffee, we wandered off to find Vut, who by this point had our entire route planned for the day.

Banteay Kdei temple, across from the lake, was our first stop. We saw the gate and thought that was cool. We then walked through the gate and saw the temple itself, which was even more impressive. We walked through the first part of the temple and were amazed. Then we walked a little bit further and saw that it opened up and kept going back even more. This was Andrew's favourite temple, and it holds a special place for me too, because it was the first one we went to, and we had no idea the place was going to be so freaking big. And this wasn't even the biggest! We couldn't fathom what we had gotten ourselves into.

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After we walked through the temple, we went back to find Vut, who the drove us to our next stop at Ta Prohm. This temple is still overgrown with trees, so it feels sort of undiscovered. They say if they tried to remove the ginormous tree roots from the structures, the temple would totally collapse. This is by far my favourite temple. This is the temple where some of the scenes from Tomb Raider were filmed.

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While we were going through, a little boy "befriended" us (I mean, Andrew) and started showing us all these cool trees and carvings we could take pictures of. And two rooms, one with a really big echo and one with a small echo. They were pretty cool. It was really helpful to have a little guide. I knew this from the start, but he was expecting to be paid after all was said and done, but Andrew figured he was just doing it out of the goodness of his heart. The boy's brother was waiting for us after we were through walking through the temple. Andrew gave them some money (which I guess they thought wasn't enough), and we were off to meet Vut on the other side of the temple complex. He asked us if we were hungry, and we said we definitely were. He took us to one of the little tent restaurants nearby that his cousin runs. I think Vut has cousins everywhere. We decided to eat and relax there. It was good to get some food into our bellies.

After we finished eating, we made our way to Ta Keo temple. We climbed the steep, shallow steps all the way to the top, took in the view, and went back down. We think Vut was amazed at the speed we were templing; we don't really play around. We see it, look at some carvings, and get out.

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We did a quick once-through of Thommanon temple as well.

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After a short drive, we arrived at Angkor Thom, a huge temple complex.

Here we saw the Terrace of the Elephants:

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the Terrace of the Leper King:

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Bauphon:

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Bayon:

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and other ruins. By the end of our trek around this site, it was about 1pm, and we were pretty freaking hot, sweaty, and tired. We opted to go back to our hotel and take a midafternoon nap, shower, and get some lunch before heading out again in the afternoon. We told Vut to meet us at 2:30.

When Vut picked us up, we had decided that we would go to a crocodile and snake show. It looked like a pretty sketchy joint, and we paid too much to get in. But if all that money goes to caring for the animals, then I have no problem with it. During the show, there was dance music, and a DJ, and the handlers taunted snakes and crocodiles for our 'viewing pleasure'. I was mostly disgusted by this, but Andrew seemed to enjoy himself a bit. Also, Vut got in for free and had a great time.

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We left the reptile farm and started back into town to see Angkor Wat, the biggest temple in the park. Apparently it is the largest religious monument in the world. It was pretty huge, and incredibly crowded. We arrived when the lighting was good, so we got some pretty nice photos. Andrew climbed to the top, but I had had a bit much for one day, so I stayed down. He took some pictures of himself at the top. As the sun was setting, we left the temple to go back to our hotel.

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We had a great day with Vut, so we asked him to take us around again the next day. We decided to meet at 8:30, and said goodbye.

We went back up to our room, got cleaned up and relaxed a bit. We left again and went across the street to the internet cafe. We had to empty our memory cards and check emails. Andrew got yelled at for using Skype.

After internetting, we went down to the Old Market area for supper. We went to the Blue Pumpkin to eat, and picked up a few little souvenirs after we finished. By this time we were really wiped, and so we went back up to our hotel and crashed hard.

Posted by agc_cwm 05:54 Archived in Cambodia

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