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Siem Reap, Angkor Wat to Phnom Pen

July 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment

Angkor Wat is simply amazing. It’s unlike any ruins that I have visited before. Huge towering citadels surrounded by dense jungle convey a real mystery. The largest citadel is about 3km across surrounded by a huge moat where the course of a river was diverted to form the moat. Smiling Buddha faces adorn many of the temples that are carved into huge stone columns. One temple, Angkor Tom, has more than 30 of these pillars with Buddhas all staring silently into the jungle. Since these were made between the 9th-13th centuries, a lot of hard work went into them.

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One of the temples was deliberately left with huge trees growing over portions of the ruins. This is where Tomb Raider was filmed and it’s easy to see where they got their inspiration from. For people travelling to this part of the worlds, its well worth it.

We hired a car and driver the 1st day hoping to take advantage of the AC in the car but it turned out it was necessary and the cab driver moaned incessantly about how difficult it was to make a living while telling out about Korean clients who would tip him $50 USD as well as pay for all his meals. The cost to rent to the car and driver was $25 USD so he was out of luck with us.

We spent 2 days going through Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples and spent one night drinking heavily with an Irish couple we met at the local bar strip. Siem Reap is a total tourist town, so much so that all the prices on the menus are in USD. The bar strip is closed off to traffic each night (its only a block long) and the tourists wonder up and down looking for places to eat and drink. We did 3 bars, had at least 10 gin and tonics between the two of us and managed to spend $10 USD. Our friends spent a total of $4.75 because they were drinking beer. We managed to crawl into bed at about 4 AM that night and were more than a little slow getting up the next day.

We had a flight out of Phnom Pen at the end of our stay and looked at our options for getting there. We could fly, take a deluxe bus or take a taxi. Bus was the cheapest but after the horrors of bus travel in Vietnam we decided to take a taxi! for 5h for the total cost of $50 USD (about 300 km), about half the cost of flying. I thought it would be a great way to see the countryside and we could have AC as well.

Well it turns out that as soon as the driver left Siem Reap, he started in with the horn. The car was a nice Camry but the driving was, again, a little tense. The countryside turned out to be a disappointment as well; basically all rice paddies and small shacks by the side of the road selling pretty much anything.  There were a number of small towns that we passed through but nothing of distinction. I was hoping to go through a bit of jungle but again I was disappointed.

When we arrived in Phnom Pen, our driver didn’t know the hotel we were staying at and he didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Cambodian. Eventually he drove us to the branch office of the travel agent where we had made the booking and I spoke with somebody who gave him directions and we finally made it to the Pacific Hotel. It was an acceptable hotel, nothing special. We wandered the streets for a few hours, had a meal, went to bed and left for the airport to catch a flight to Bangkok and then onto Chiang Mai the following day.

Tags: Blogroll · Cambodia · Driving · Siem Reap · Travel

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Photo Gallery of Angkor Wat Posted | Sharon and Jacques' Excellent Blog // Feb 16, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    [...] I have added the first of several galleries of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is relatively unknown in North America but is considered one of the 10 wonders of the world. It is the world’s largest religious monument and its well worth visiting. It’s first mentioned in our travel blog here.   [...]

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