Siem Reap, Cambodia
My hotel in Siem Reap was really out of the way. So much so that no one seemed to know exactly where the hotel was. That seems to have become a theme for this trip. Booking online is easy. Finding it after you have booked it seems to be the challenge.
Anyway, after circling the city a few time we finally found it. It was far from downtown, but fairly close to the Ankgor Wat ruins. The free breakfast started at 7:00am, so I told my driver to meet me at 7:30. By then the sun had already risen a good bit and it was very toasty. The entrance to the ruins were about a 15 minute drive. After paying the $40 US fee for three days of entry–by the way they took my picture and put it on my pass–we were finally on our way.
And now, onto one of the Seven Wonders of the World! The road was really starting to fill up with bicycles, tuk-tuk's and minivans. After we entered the park, it was still a long long way to the Ankgor Wat ruins. My guide book suggested that I leave the largest and finest set of ruins till last, but my driver would have nothing of it, and drove me right to the main entrance. It was massive! Surrounded by a gigantic mote it must have been a mile square. There was a stone walkway/bridge which even at this early hour, by then it was 8:30 am, was filled with people. I just kinda of shuffled along, almost in a daze, with everyone else. It was hard not to just shoot a million pictures. Everywhere you turned there was a magnificent view. Once I finally entered the courtyard things really started to get exciting. Of course all of the shots had people in them, but I reasoned that they would just give scale to the massive stone structures. I also promised myself that tomorrow I would, forgo breakfast and get a much earlier start.breakfast and get a much earlier start.breakfast and get a much earlier start.
I took the better part of two hours to just skim the surface of all of the nooks and crannies. These people really loved to line things up, so that if you were looking down a narrow tunnel,, at the end was a view of a majestic statue, or stairs, or another entrance, or in most cases another bunch of bunch of tourists.s It was easily to get turned around. There were 4 entrances that were a good bit apart, but I finally found the right way out. My driver Crystal was waiting patiently.
As soon as I got back in the tuk-tuk we were off again. The distance to the next set of ruins was very long. I had thought about bicycling the route the next day, but after I saw the distances and the heat, I booked Crystal for the next day also. This first day I finished up at 3:30 and when I returned to the hotel I slept the sleep of the dead. I was so whooped I immediately fell into a drug like induced coma, and didn't get up until 7:30 pm. On at whim I called Crystal, and asked him to bring me to downtown.
I was not ready for downtown. It's as if all of the crowds from the ruins made their way to Night Market and Pub Street. Pub Street was especially full, with one after another restaurants of all types. I picked one at random called the Temple. I tried to get a table on the street, but they were all taken. Inside, to my delight was a large flat screen TV with two pool tables. I ordered a drink, a pizza, and decided to shoot a game of pool.
Afterwards I strolled down the night market until I came to a store with a big neon sign that proudly proclaimed, “NorthFace.” Now this I got to see! I bought a pair of NorthFace pants, because remember I had tourn pants, because remember I had torn the seat out of my last pair.
The next two days were an exact repeat of this one, except of course that I got earlier starts. I found that I had a good two hours before the crowds started to arrive.