An Alien in Spain - Visits Cambodia (Siem Reap / Angor Wat)

Hi everybody, My last morning in Battambang and the heavens opened and it poured down just to show the end of the wet season had not happened but I left the Star Hotel at 6.45 am and was at the boat station at 7am.

Now this boat was the same size as the one I took up from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh but there the similarity ended

This one had a bench seat either side to sit on with no glass or even perspex where the windows should have been, no windscreen glass and all the luggage was strapped on the back of the boat with a tarp over it all.

By the time we were 30 minutes into the ride every one was sitting on soaking wet cushions and holding covers up to the window to keep the rain out but on the bright side this was only to last 3 hours and the last two hours we dried off when the sun came out.

Despite the bad weather the boat ride across Tonie Sap Lake is a great experience and can only be done at the end of the rainy season as after the lake level drops and boats are unable to navigate life on the lake is vibrant and the lake appears to have hedgerows growing out of the lake everywhere which are in fact the tops of trees.

Arrival in Seam Reap is at a landing station outside of town and there are numerous Tuk Tuk drivers willing to take you into the main part of town for $2 US where you will find a number of good quality hotels at a reasonable price around the main area called Pub Street.

My Hotel called The Gloria Angkor was a little out of town but excellent quality rooms and a good breakfast included and as well as turning down the covers on the bed each night and leaving a container of sweets and a lotus flower they even provided a free return Tuk Tuk service between 6 pm and 10 pm between the Hotel and Pub Street.

That Evening I ate a Khmer Meal in Khmer Kitchen which set me back $4 with a beer and would recommend.

The next day I hired a driver and Tuk Tuk for 3 days which was the duration of my stay and because the distances covered each day varied the cost did as well day 1 $13 US day 2 $21 Us and a half day 3 cost $10 US.

The draw to Seam Reap is the multitude of Wats in the area the most famous being Angkor Wat and to visit these there are three passes to be bought one day costs $20 US - Three day cost $40 and the week $60 US and depending how excited you get over old temples buy accordingly. My choice had been the 3 day pass but to be honest after 2 days I was templed out and told my driver to go anywhere but another Wat.

Anyway I digress - Angkor Wat is magnificent and will take a while to see everything so allow half a day and be prepared there is a lot of climbing in high temperatures so take plenty of water and a sun hat - From Angkor Wat you can visit Angkor Thom - Baphoun - Phimeanakes - The Elephant Terrace and the Leper King Terrace before passing through Victory Gate to Bayon - Ta Keo - Ta Promh - Banteay Kdel & Prasat Kravan. The following is a selection of each.

All of the above have a different take on a Wat and are interesting but when it is very hot and unfortunately at every stop you are met by a Hoard of Kids trying to sell you anything it all becomes a little bit too much.

While on the subject of the street kids I heard from a reliable source that you should not buy from these children as they are run by gangs similar to "Slumdog Millionaire" and when they are no longer cute they are traffiked on so only buy from the elderly women who really do need the money for themselves.

That night I again ate in Pub Street at The Angkor Palm a buffet menu for $7.50 US and a beer for $1.50 and it was excellent - Afterwards there is a bar run by an Aussie called The Warehouse that is good fun.

The next day after the obligatory visit to a Wat (Pre Rup) we drove 52 KM to Kbal Spean where I really enjoyed the 1500 climb up a mountain over boulders and through a forest to a waterfall and stream that you can go in and where the ruins of the Khmer Rouge vendetta against education were to be seen.

After leaving here we headed off to visit The Cambodian Landmine Museum (entry $2 US) which is run by an ex US Serviceman who fought in the war and is very interesting and well worth the visit.

Headed off to watch the sunset from the top of a Wat called Phom Bakheng but on the way stopped off at Banteay Srey Temple didn't think I would enjoy but very interesting and again worth a visit.

The sunset is quite breathtaking and probably romantic if not for the fact there are about 500 people on the top of the Wat - get there early as they stop entry at 5.30 pm and it is very popular and also be prepared the climb to the top is hard going after a long day.

In The evening I had a meal in The Temple that has a free floor show of Khmer Dance - The dancers were good although service was slow but the food was good worth it $6 US for the dancing.

Last day and I didn't want to see another Wat so we drove out of town to Banteay Samre where I was assured I could have a swim but although the lake was probably quite safe as no one else was in the water I decided to give it a miss.

We drove instead to The Cambodian War Museum (entry $5 US) here in the open are all forms of ordnance from Tanks to anti aircraft guns US helicopter Gunships to Russian M I G fighters all that have been in the war and are now decommissioned.

The Khmer Village of Culture is another good place to visit but at a cost of $15 US for half a day go in the afternoon when most things are happening.

This covers the things I found to do in and around Seam Reap and I didn't scratch the surface as there are a multitude of clubs pubs and restaurants as well as shopping and night markets so definitely a place worth visiting.

I can recommend if you are thirsty buy a coconut for $1 US and let them open it up the inside is cool and will really refresh you and lastly if you need a haircut fellas be prepared to have it cut short without being asked but you will only be charged about $3 US so although you are scalped you won't be fleeced as well.

On that note I will be leaving Cambodia and flying to Vientiane capital of Lao in time for the festival Boun Awk Pansa to mark the end of Buddist lent and to experience the backpackers capital Vieng Vien and Luang Pabang so until the next time.

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