Temple Hopping

This is my second attempt at this so not so poetic as the first. It will have to do.

So, after a lazy day around Siem Reap recovering from the scam bus we finally orgainsed a tuk-tuk to take us to the temples. Our driver was lovely and has been ferrying us around for 3 days. We went to buy a ticket for the next day in the afternoon and if you buy it before 5pm they throw in sunset for that afternoon for free. Our driver took us to the foot of the hill of the temple we were visiting and we set off up the hill through the trees. Time was ticking on so we had to rush up the hill overtaking all the slow-mos! When we reached the top we could see the temple peeking through the trees glowing orange in the sunset.

After a moment to catch our breath we started the climb up the temple. The steps are ridiculous! They are about 10-15cm deep and over a foot high. The people of Angkor must have had tiny feet and long legs! With each step I had to pull myself up with my arms like climbing a ladder, and I daren’t look down! When we reached the top it dawned on me that the way up was also the way down. I thought I would have to travel the 50 metres down on my bum! The sunset was lovely setting over the masses of water and jungle canopy that surrounds the area. We also bumped into 4 of the people we travelled with on the scam bus from Thailand. It turns out they were taken to the wrong hostel and scammed also, so at least we weren’t the only ones!

The next morning we woke up at 4.15am to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise. It was surprisingly cold on a tuk-tuk at that time in the morning and I had dressed for a hot day of climbing up and down temples. On our walk to find a good spot to sit and watch sunrise we came across a little crab side-stepping along on the path. The Cambodian behind us explained that there are lots of them around that come up out of the water and people like to catch them and eat them. That explains why we only saw the one! The sunrise was beautiful as it comes up directly behind the large temple. (Photos to follow) There were of course hoards of people once more! After sunrise we wondered around the back of the temple to look at the water and the south gate of the monument. As we were about to leave to get back to our driver a congress of Macaques rushed out of the trees. There were big ones and lots and lots of babies!! We took plenty of photos and videos. There was a woman who was setting up a little stall on her bicycle to sell bananas to tourists for the monkeys but as she turned her back a huge bunch of about 12 bananas was taken by one of the monkeys and he ran up one of the trees to chow down! Clever thing.

We then went on to visit several other temples, each with more ridiculous steps than the last. The final temple we visited was the famous one you will all know from Tomb Raider, guidebooks and TV. It is well known for the huge trees and roots growing all over the walls and steps of the monument, as the temple was engulfed in the jungle for over 500 years. I can definitely see why it is the most popular! After a good 6 hours of temple hopping we returned to the hostel as we were hot, tired and I was starting to burn.

I have to say, I think this is the best hostel we will ever stay in. The room is fantastic with A/C, a fan, a huge bed (Pez and I could sleep about 6 feet away from each other!! But apparently I only leave him a few inches to sleep in!), a great bathroom and a TV with 80 channels! The best thing about this hostel though is the staff. It is one big family, but not all related. Some of the younger people work here for free, so eat and sleep here so that they can go to school. The owner has almost adopted them to allow them to get an education. We have had many long talks with each of the staff and it is lovely to hear them talk so enthusiastically about school. There is a donation box in the corner that goes to the local school which we will definitely be leaving some money in before we go tomorrow.

Call that a knife!?

Busy few days! We met up with old Muso Gez, Noony didn’t want to be involved with the rhyming names so she kept her’s the same. We left Noony out of the conversation for about 20 minutes whilst we caught up about old friends and fierce enemies. The pizza kept us relatively entertained, Noony had to be different again and had a burger. Having not seen him for a few years, the dark Cambodian backdrop did nothing to dampen our spirits and conversation. The beggers asking for money to help fund schoolbooks and shoes for the local school or something was a downer. I mean I’m just trying to enjoy my Italian pizza. After the crying turned to a distant echo we made our excuses and left.

Noony walked behind Gez and me as we walked through town stopping only to look at the stuffed crocodiles. They were in a human fighting pose and they looked ace. I thought to myself, “Where do they find these crocodiles that already know how to fight?”

The next day I found the answer.

A girl staying at the hostel, (which is a brilliant hostel; free coffee, water and breakfast. Noony will give a better review I’m sure) said to the staff they could see crocodiles from their window and, being a lousy eavesdropper, noisily twisted my wooden chair round, crossed my legs and stared intently. They asked if they could go see them. The young daughter of the owner said yes, but the mum said to just take up to the top of the building and look down. We were a bit disappointed, even more so when our camera died after just one photo. When the mother left the daughter said to come with her, so we put on our shoes left at the foot (boom boom!) of the hostel and squeezed through a gap between the metal fence and wall and meandered into the crocodile farm owner’s garden.

We climbed onto the four foot high scaffolding to look at these marvelous seven feet crocodiles and their strong twitchy back legs. We only later found out that feeding time was about half an hour after we left and considering these creatures only get fed once in a while I knew tucking my toes in behind the wooden slates was not a paranoid delusion.

Today we went to Artisan Craft Centre which was set up to teach 18-25 year olds the art of stone and wood carving, metalwork, silk painting and, to a lesser extent, nude drawing; they asked me to put my clothes back on. To learn that it was free (for both us and young Cambodian apprentices) was inspiring and goodies made were sold in the shop. We bought a little metal elephant that you can open up to find empty space. This let me know that it was hollow.

Our tuk-tuk driver that we had kept for the past three days not only spoke good English, but drove slowly and well! This meant we could lean back and enjoy the view. Of desolate housing, working toddlers and polluted river fishing. It certainly does open up your eyes, or it would have if dust hadn’t kept flowing behind my new Ray-Ban sunnies.

Upon writing this Noony’s hour long masterpiece about Angkor Wat was deleted by the blog. She is furious and is currently writing a letter to the head of wordpress. No wait, it’s the blog again.

To finish I’ll tell you that my favourite quote this week came from the street children at Angkor Wat trying to sell cold drinks, scarfs and paintings. They were incredibly insistent and followed you even after saying, “No, thank-you” about 30 times. We decided to be much firmer with our responses so when asked if we wanted a cold drink I replied, “No, thank-you. I DON’T. WANT. ONE.”

“Oh, you want two?”

Angkor What?

This stupid thing deleted my blog about the temples. I am too annoyed to write it again now so it will have to be at a later date. Grr!