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.

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