Angkor Wat

After some discussion with Amy and Jason, we decided on hiring a tuk-tuk to take us around Angkor Wat for the day. It was too far a slog for cycles and cheaper than hiring three motorbikes. And if it rained, we’d have some kind of shelter. The tuk-tuks here are different again from other countries’ being a standard motorcycle harnessed to a covered trailer. Kind of cool and likely utterly illegal in the UK.

Now I’ll be honest. I expected to be somewhat underwhelmed with Angkor Wat. I mean, it’s just some old (very old) buildings and I’ve seen old buildings in umpteen countries now. Admittedly, it’s an enormous complex with carvings; steep steps; trees growing through, from and on collapsed stonework; huge archways. And so on. But it’s just old buildings made of very weathered stones. Isn’t it?

Well, for $20 entry fee plus $5 (including tip) each for the tuk-tuk I’d say we all had a great day. Amy was certainly the most enraptured (and paid for a 3-day pass), Jason found it “cool” and I was admittedly impressed by the majesty of the whole thing. One day, though, was definitely enough for me to visit – as Amy put it – an adults’ playground. Angkor Wat cannot be appreciated fully by those unable to climb (up and down) very steep, worn stone steps.

There are quite a few monkeys around near the start of the circuit and they’re surprisingly tame for animals which aren’t generally fed by the public. I took far too many pictures of them including an adorable baby.

At one of the buildings I encountered a team of people similar to the ones Hans and I were accosted by in India and Sri Lanka – voluntary “guides” who, after generously walking you around, asked for money for a service you’d not requested in the first place. After initially rattling off some information, the conversation went like this:

Him: How long you been here?

Me: This is my third day in Angkor Wat and my third trip to Cambodia. I am only taking some pictures I did not get yesterday.

Him: Oh. Where you from?

Me: Latvia.

Him: (pause)

Me: It’s in Europe.

Him: Oh, OK. Goodbye!

There’s an astounding amount of work going in to rebuilding many of the ruins, some from stones recovered from quite some distance. I won’t go through everything we saw – there are enough references online and in print form if you want to find out more – but I was definitely glad we went. I can understand why so many do visit, and I’m thankful it didn’t rain!

We “lost” Jason towards the end and doubled back trying to find him. He’d been waylaid talking to a monk about football. Stranger things happen, but not much.

The only annoying thing is the number of people trying to sell you things and – as usual – far too many are children. I did pick up two patches for my collection (Laos and Cambodia), and I swear I paid well over the odds for them but the people at Angkor just don’t seem to haggle. I assume the cost of owning a store there is too high and with now being the “off” season they can’t afford to lose out.

Back at the hostel, we arranged to meet at 7:00 for dinner and make plans for the next day or so. Amy will be going back around Angkor Wat, I want to go and give blood and Jason wants to mooch around town. I also need to book my bus ticket to Phnomh Penh, try and get an answer out of the insurance company regarding my camera and prod the hostel in Dubai I’m trying to make a reservation with.

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