My last two days in Siem Reap before I board the bus to big bad Bangkok!
17.02.2012 - 18.02.2012 28 °C
The last two days have been spent in Siem Reap, meandering about and just enjoying being lazy. As such, this may not be such a long post as I don’t have too much interesting stuff to describe.
I checked out of Bun Kao’s this morning but I remain here while I wait for my bus, which is to come in about 8 hours at 2am. True to his kind nature, Bun Kao was happy for me to stay here and leave my stuff until the overnight bus to Bangkok came, and even offered to let me use his downstairs shower before I leave if I so desire. He reminds me of Miss Long in the warmness of his never-fading smile, which I’ve found to be a really nice thing while travelling. That being said, I hadn’t liked this hostel so much because people hadn’t been so friendly and it was very quiet (though that was kind of nice in itself) – but there was a particularly notoriously creepy Australian guy in my dorm who just skulked around all day drinking beer, playing computer games and not being very polite or friendly, which I think made a bit of a downer in our room. Last night a couple more girls came which was nice, and I also met a great lady this morning who is quite a bit older than most of the crowd here but, in vocabulary similar to her own, she is ‘absolutely fabulous fabulous fabulous darling!’. She’s had quite some interesting travels and I’d urge you to check out www.backpackinggranny.com as she’s got some great photography.
Anyway, I’m just rambling now and I’ll get back to my chronological self! Yesterday I woke bright and early at about 4.30am so that we could watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, which is apparently a bit of a ‘must-do’. The lovely Sun Lee was our driver again and after meeting Matt downstairs we departed shortly after 5. There were a number of people with the same idea as us and Angkor Wat was a hive of activity. We were there pretty early and I got a great spot right on the edge of the moat/lake type thing on what I thought were freely provided mats – though these were removed once I refused to buy coffee from a lady walking around. I was waiting there for a good while just taking a number of photos as the sky got lighter and lighter, but became quite confused as the shades evolved from black to navy to blue, with very few hints of brilliant pink or orange that I’d been expecting. Unfortunately, the morning we’d chosen to go was particularly overcast and there was no amazing sunrise to be seen – although I still think I got some nice photos regardless, particularly with panorama mode. I considered coming back this morning or for the sunset, but Angkor Wat has certainly been my most expensive endeavour on this trip (a 3 day pass is $40 and a tuk tuk for a day is $15, though this cost can be split). I guess this just gives me another reason to return to Cambodia some day, which I’m sure I will.
After exploring Angkor Wat for a while, I got a ‘mystery baguette’ which I think contained pork and got back into the tuk-tuk to explore the temples on the ‘small route’ which we hadn’t seen before. I forget the names of them – but the first one I really enjoyed, I think it might’ve been Banteay Kdei but I forget as I wasn’t paying much attention to the names. I think we also visited Ta Keo, and of course Ta Phrom, which was great and intertwined with many trees, or ‘choked by two trees’ as the legend goes. However it was full of tourists and there was a lot of reconstructive conservation work going on so there were big part blocked out with scaffolding. Many of the parts were destructed so I think it’s good that they’re doing conservation work, but hopefully next time I return I’ll have a bit more luck. We finished off with visiting Prasat Kravan, which is just a small temple shrine near the exit of the Angkor area. I was more interested in the horse randomly chilling next to the temple, though I don’t think s/he liked me too much.
We finally said goodbye to Angkor Wat, though certainly not forever. Although I’m not really into temples, I do feel like this visit was just a bit of a taster and now that I have a better idea of the temples (I really had no idea what to expect before), I’ll be able to come back and do it properly another time. Possibly bike ride, as a few people have said they’ve done, though it really is a massive distance and I think maybe even just the ride out of the city centre would kill me!
When I got back I had a rest and then went and got some lunch and went for a walk around town. I also found a small shopping centre, which I found strangely relieving. Most of the stores I’ve seen around for the past few weeks have been in marketplaces and small shops and so it was quite nice to walk into an air conditioned supermarket and look at all the stuff they sell. I really enjoy looking at foreign supermarkets and see all the strange things they sell – although this supermarket was surprisingly not very cheap unfortunately! Nothing all that exciting occurred for the rest of the day, though as I mentioned I met some cool people in my hostel, watched some movies and ate too many peanut butter oreos.
This morning I’d wanted to sleep in as I knew it’d be a long day waiting around for the bus, but I just couldn’t, and finally let myself out of bed at 8am. I came down and walked around the streets to see what breakfast was on offer, but Bun Kao’s proved the best value once again and I returned. I’m glad I did, as this is where I met backpacking granny, Geraldine! I eventually packed and tried to have a shower, however the shower stubbornly decided to simply not work for about 20 minutes, so I awkwardly hung out in the hostel room in my towel with a sleepy French guy. I spent the rest of the day with Maisy and Gerry and we went and got some lunch, and I had my first taste of Western food in a while – a chicken burger really did the trick. I’ve been trying to stick to local food, but nothing on the Khmer menu at the place we went to look great.
After this I went for another walk and eventually got some ice cream – yummo! – and finally returned to the hostel about an hour ago. And here I am, waiting for the bus. I’m pretty nervous about this trip as I’ve heard some horror stories about the Cambodia – Thailand route, with twenty people being cramped onto minivans that seat ten and bags being gone through and ransacked under the bus. I tried to avoid the company that I’d heard the worst about and booked the ‘Virak Buntham VIP Nightbus’. I’m still quite worried but it was $13 compared to the $200 airfare, so I guess wish me luck! If I don’t update this in the next few days then either a) I was squished to death on a mini van or b) my laptop and all my possessions were stolen.
Anyway, now to play the waiting game… (with my fingers crossed).