BootsnAll Travel Network

Angkor part deux

After my first day of temple exploring, I was hungry and decided to try some of the food stalls around the market. They run about $0.75-$1 for a meal instead of paying $3 for the same meal in the restaurant. They are also quite clean looking and frequented by foreigners. As I walked to a nearby restaurant, I felt a strong tug on my arm and looked down to see this little Cambodian boy >3 hanging from my arm with a huge grin on his face. He had his legs up and was swinging. I am not sure where he came from, but I swung him around for a while and then managed to disentangle myself from him. He ran off somewhere with a younger looking girl. I believe they were children from one of the stall workers. I made it to my chosen stall and sat down. I ordered fried rice and a dragon fruit shake. The food and shake were very good as I had never eaten dragon fruit before. Sitting next to me was a German who decided to have a conversation with me in German with about two English words thrown in. All I could make out was there was some area in Thailand with lots of people trying to push girls on you (not Bangkok). I could never figure out how he felt about that, so I just nodded and made agreeing noises at what seemed appropriate times. After supper I went in the market just to see what a Laos guidebook would cost. I had paid $11 for a used four-year-old one in Bangkok. Wouldn’t you know, the latest Laos guidebooks were on sale here for $3.50 brand new. I went ahead and bought one. I will trade both books when I get back to Thailand and hopefully make all of my money back on the brand new guide book plus some.

The next day I set out at 8:30 am with Rond for more temple exploring. Like last time I will give brief descriptions of some of the more impressive temples.

Pre Rup: A very large temple in the quincunx design. It was possibly used as a crematorium.

Preah Neak Pean: This is actually more of a series of fountains than a temple. There are four small pools surrounding a bigger pool in the middle with a temple in the very center. The four smaller pools have water spouts of various shapes set in artificial caves. The pools are now empty.

Preah Khan: This is a huge complex surrounded by a moat. It has four entrances each accessed by a bridge over the moat. The bridges are lined with figures re-enacting the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Most of the figures’ heads have been chopped off for the black market. There is a large outside wall full of carvings of garudas holding up a nagas. There is also a large structure of unknown purpose in the compound that more resembles Greek temples than Khmer architecture with its series of round fluted columns. The structure has been partially restored and is full of passageways and fallen rocks.

I had hoped that these further out temples would be less of a circus than the crowds surrounding the main attractions of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. While they were definitely less crowded, one still had to deal with large tour groups who got out of buses in groups of 40 people. Of particular annoyance was an Italian tour group that I seemed to be unable to get away from. They apparently felt the need to stand on the top of every single temple and scream as loud as they could at members of their group still below. I went for supper again at the market food stalls. This time I had dragon fruit and mango shakes. This stall appeared to put yogurt or something in them as they were thick. They are only $0.50 each.

Today I went to two temples about 60 km out from Siem Reap. My whole trip for the day was over 100 km leading me to have a very numb bottom from the motorcycle. This was in no small part due to a long section of very bad road. I thought for sure I would have these temples more to myself just due to sheer distance to get to them. Alas, it was not to be again. On my way to the first temple, I was passed by a large tour bus. To be fair these temples were the least crowded that I had been to.

Beng Mealea: For the most part this temple has been left almost in its natural state and is very overgrown. The attraction of this temple is that one can see what temples looked like before they were cleaned up for tourists. One can clamber as they like over piles of fallen rocks and through hallways that look as if they may collapse at any moment. They have made some concessions for tourists. There is a wooden walkway being built and currently extended throughout the temple. Also some walls have been shored up. While these improvements make it safer, I fear that when it is all complete the temple may go the way of the others, full of ropes and no entry signs. I don’t know this for sure, and I hope not as this temple provides a good peek into what the early explorers of the region must have found.

The temple was also surrounded until recently by minefields. The front of the temple has been cleared, but there was a mine clearing team working in a field behind the temple. The area was full of men with metal detectors, surrounded by skull and crossbone signs.

Banteay Srei: This is a smaller Hindu temple known for its very intricate carvings. Probably some of the best in the whole Angkor area.

I returned to my hotel around 1:00 pm after seeing these two temples. Tomorrow, I will head to Battambang by boat and from there try to catch the only train running in Cambodia to Pursat.

1. Trip country costs: Nepal: $26.50/day 57 days. My costs were high here due to the expensive Indian visa and rafting trip.
India: $19/day 32 days. Super low due in large part to the hospitality of the people whom I stayed with in Agra and Baroda. In general India is more expensive than Nepal.

2. Siem Reap: Siem Reap/Angkor Wat is expensive. The town has turned into a tourist destination and is priced accordingly. One has to pay $40 for a three day pass to see the temples (1 day = $20, 1 week = $60). The problem is as in most developing countries very little of the money is actually used to keep up the temples or better the lives of the local people. My expenses haven’t been this high since China. I am hoping that the rest of the country has raised prices like here. I was a bit disheartened to learn from my new Laos guidebook that the remote border crossing I planned to use is no longer so remote. Gone are the days of taking a scenic boat to the border. Now apparently one has to get on a very high priced tourist bus. More on this in about a month when I head this way. I hope the boats are still running.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Angkor part deux”

  1. Joe Says:

    “Word of the Day?” Is Preeti with you?

  2. Preeti Says:

    LOL – glad to see my influence rubbing off on others. And for the record, I’ve seen that word before. The Taj Mahal is also designed in a quincunx. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around a 140-m wide moat.

  3. Posted from United States United States

Leave a Reply