The Khmer castles

Apologies for a distinct lack of blog posts. For some time, we were travelling overland on trains, buses and taxis and I had nothing much to report. Then, I was struck down, as so many travellers are, by a nasty stomach bug that left me bedridden and close to the bathroom for four days. It was not pleasant, but I’m pleased to say it has now passed. 

Before the awful bug, we had an amazing day exploring the temples and ruins at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the surrounding areas. This huge complex of ancient sites is one of the main reasons western tourists come to Cambodia, that and the 50p beers, highly appreciated by the chap. Angkor Wat is a breathtakingly beautiful place, especially first thing in the morning which is the ideal time to visit. The blazing sun is already approaching high in the sky, but at least you get a couple of hours at a moderate temperature before the 40C heat kicks in. 

Silouhette of Angkor Wat in the morning

We arranged a tuk tuk driver through our hotel and I think this was the ideal way to travel between the sites. Walking would have been exhausting and a car would have been too expensive. Having a breeze pass over us as our tuk tuk drove along was a refreshing break from the sun. 

View from the tuk tuk at Angkor Wat

Our guidebook seemed to suggest that it could take up to a week to see all the vast array of buildings in the area, so we allocated two days to see it all. But after one long morning, we felt we had seen as much as we wanted to. You pay for entry to the complex and show your ticket at each temple you stop at. This is in addition to the cost of the tuk tuk driver, so our day out cost us approximately $60. I’m sure if you had the money to pay for a guided tour at each temple, it might take you a bit longer, but we were quite happy to wander through unaided, taking pictures and admiring details as we went along. We had been to the National Museum in Siem Reap the day before, so we had an overview of Khmer history and could place some of the temples in context. I would recommend doing this if you want to save money on guided tours. As always in Cambodia, guides hovering around the entrance of Angkor Wat might not be exactly who they appear to be. I would recommend organising a guide through your hotel if possible, or booking in advance. 

Cambodia is a a country rich in history and culture, despite its lack of wealth. Big hotels and corporations are already sneaking in, so it will be interesting to see how the country develops over the next few years. Angkor Wat has been standing since the tenth century, so I think it’s safe to say tourists will still be coming to gawp in awe at its size for many years to come yet. 

Yours truly at one of the smaller temples within Angkor Thom

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