Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Sleepy Dusty Town That Is Siem Reap


Hark! I was going through the entire batch of photos we took from our Cambodia trip and i realised, we didn't take any city photos of Siem Reap (which is mostly dusty of course...)! Unpleasantness... Much to the abomination of budding photographers! Arghh... Must be snap happy the next time! Like meebops...

Anyways, this will be the first of the many post to come on Siem Reap...!

Let us start out with a picture of our US$15 ride. I can't remember Mr. Tuk Tuk's name but for the price we paid, he patiently bam-bammed his motorbike from our hotel to view sunset and a day's worth of trip to the majestic Angkor Wat! (Admission tickets to the Angkor is not included...)

Fact: Tuk-Tuk Uncle No. 3745 was the cheapest, friendliest, most pleasant looking Tuk-Tuk Uncle in the whole of Siem Reap (Oh yes! We went Tuk-Tuk shopping!!!) He wasn't pushy (like those other buggers), always smiling and very very patient. Ok, so his Tuk-Tuk wasn't equipped with the largest seats for our bearish buttocks and it was a little squeezy and squeaky but he was our best choice. 3745 is also, only 42 years old (despite his looks) and resembles my late grandfather from the state of Perak, Malaysia.

I must say there were more things to see and go to in Phnom Penh then we ever get to in Siem Reap, possibly because PP is the capital city of Cambodia. Being "city chics" ourselves, we were pampered enough to get all oogly-eyed at the old war-torn buildings turned cafe bustling with expats and tourists, aromatic coffee in giant coffee cups, great massage, good food...........................

WARNING! Our depiction of Siem Reap is biased! And only centered within the compounds of the Holy Temples of Angkor Wat... Those who have seen more of SR should look away now!

This is an aerial overview of the majestic temple of Angkor Wat, from atop Bakheng Hill. The temple in which you will have to climb hand and foot on is called the Phnom Bakheng - which is easily the most scenic, solitary refuge you probably can find in all of Angkor.

BEAR NOTES: Arrive at the summit of the temple just before sunset and if you're lucky, you might just be able to spot the Angkor Wat down below (you normally would anyway!). According to some guidebooks, you would also be able to see the Phnom Krom to the Southwest near the Tonle Sap, Phnom Bok (pronouced penumbok for those in the know...) in the Northeast, Phnom Kulen in the East and the West Baray.

The Travelling Teddies (Meebops especially!) weren't too fond being greeted by the long flight of steps for sunset... Yup, yet another long climb up the stairway to heaven...

And oh no no... It wasn't an easy climb either. What with our fat little paws and Cubbies with her little booties on her hands and feet. Wasn't easy at all! Bah!

There were people who reported to have used the "elephant trail" up the temple which is apparently longer but less step. Well, from what we saw, no trails of the elephants here... so we used the shorter and oh-so-steep way up.

Right hand... Left foot... Left Hand... Right Foot... Left Foot... Right Hand... Left.. no.. Right.. Arh.. Left... Duh!!!

All those who survived the climb were disappointed that God wasn't there after all (what a bummer...) and most paced around the top snapping pictures after pictures of the areas surrounding the temple, while waiting patiently for the Sun to set.

Meebops for instance took several positions in the same spot and will then later pick the best looking picture of all... She is so fond.. so fond of doing that little vain pot bear thing...

And the moment we've all been waiting for... An overview of the sunset in Siem Reap from atop Bakheng Hill (temple, one of the hundreds found in Cambodia alone!). It wasn't much of a sunset that evening because the evening was cloudy; but it was serene and breathtaking nonetheless!

After the sunset and on our way down from the long climb uphill, we were greteed by a string ensemble consisting of musicians (with physical disabilities) who were victims of the vicious land mines, laid down by the Khmer Rouge, the Heng Samrin and Hun Sen regimes, the Vietnamese, the KPLNF and the Sihanoukists.

Apparently (though not surprising), Cambodia has one of the largest rates of physical disability in any country in the world due to land mine accidents! And even till today, no one know exactly how many landmines were planted in Cambodia and how many still remains.

Best advice you can get when you travel to Cambodia?- STAY OFF THE ROADS LESS TRAVELLED! Literally...



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